Tag Archives: Climate and weather

Making Sense of Weather and Climate

Read Making Sense of Weather and Climate: The Science Behind the Forecasts, by Mark Denny if you want to … well, do what the title of the book says.

I know a lot of you are interested in global warming/climate change, so you need to know that this book is not mainly about that (but it is covered). Rather, this book is the Rosetta Stone that allows you to connect a general understanding of the planet (it is round, it spins, it has an atmosphere that includes water vapor, and tends to reside between -50 and +50 degrees C, etc.) and the person on the TV talking about air masses going up and down and what is going to happen during “the overnight” and “the overday” and such. Continue reading Making Sense of Weather and Climate

Why is this year’s hurricane season so much worse?

It isn’t. Well, it is a little, but not totally. OK, it is, but actually, it is complicated.

First, you are probably asking about the Atlantic hurricane season, not the global issue of hurricanes and typhoons and such. If you are asking world-wide, recent prior years were worse if counted by how many humans killed and how much damage done.

With respect to the Atlantic, this was a bad year and there are special features of this year that were bad in a way that is best accounted for by global warming. But looking at the Atlantic hurricanes from a somewhat different but valid perspective, last year was worse (so far) and this year is ordinary, within the context of global warming. So, let’s talk about the global warming question first.

How Global Warming Makes Hurricane Seasons Worse

The effects of global warming on hurricanes in the Atlantic have two interesting features that must be understood to place this discussion in proper context.

First, we are having a bunch of bad decades in a row probably because of global warming. If we compare pre-1980, for a decade, with post 1980, or pre vs. post 1990, or anything similar, the more recent years have had more hurricanes than the earlier years. Comparing to even earlier time periods is tricky because of differences in available data (Satellites make a difference, probably, even with giant weather features like hurricanes). This is mainly due to increasing sea surface temperatures, but there are other factors as well.

Hurricanes are more likely to form when sea surface temperatures are higher. Higher sea surface temperatures can make a hurricane larger or stronger. Hurricanes will last longer if there is more, higher, hurricane-hot sea to travel over. If sea surface temperatures are high enough to cause hurricanes earlier in the year or later in the year, the hurricane season can be longer. Possibly, storms that in a non-warmed world would not have made it to “named storm” status are moved to that level of strength and organization because of the elevated sea surface temperature.

Sea surface temperature increases of small amounts cause large changes in hurricanes, and large changes in hurricanes cause larger changes in potential damage level. The increase in Atlantic sea surface temperatures over recent decades have probably been sufficient, according to my thumb-suck estimate that I strongly suspect is close to correct, to make about half the hurricanes that would have existed anyway jump up one category. Then, when hurricanes get stronger, the amount of damage they can do goes up exponentially. So the sea surface temperature increases we’ve see with global warming easily explain the fact that we’ve had more hurricanes overall, and stronger ones, over the last twenty or thirty years than during the previous years back to when the data are still pretty good.

Second, the science says this will get worse. There is one 2007 study (by Vecci and Soden, in Geophysical Research Letters) that suggests that maybe in the Atlantic, smaller size hurricanes will be less likely to form because of increased vertical wind shear, but that study does not mean much for larger or stronger hurricanes. This decade old study is constantly cited as evidence that global warming will not increase hurricanes in the Atlantic. Other studies show that the overall amount of hurricane activity, and the potential higher end of hurricane strength, and the size, and the speed at which they form, and the amount of water they can contain, and possibly the likelihood of a hurricane stalling right after landfall, go up. Up. Up. Up. One study says down and that word, “down” it resonates across the land like a sonic boom. The other studies say we can expect, and to varying degrees already see, up, up, up, up, up, and denial makes words like “up” and “more” and “worse” and “exasperated” dangerously quiet. Please don’t fall into that trap. Oh, by the way,the one study that says “down” has not been replicated and though experts feel it has some merit, it is far from proven and there are reasons to suggest it my be problematic.

Comparing the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season to Other Years

Funny thing about hurricanes: They exist whether or not they menace you. Every year a certain number of hurricanes (usually) form and wander about in the Atlantic ocean for a while, maybe hitting some boats, but otherwise doing little more than causing some big waves to eventually reach beaches in the Caribbean or the eastern US.

This year, we’ve had four major hurricanes so far. Harvey, which maxed out as a Cat 4, ravaged and flooded Texas and Louisiana. Irma, maxing at Cat 5, ravaged Florida after wiping out islands in the Leewards and doing great damage to Cuba and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Maria, maxing out as a Cat 5, did major damage in the Leewards and notably wiped out Puerto Rico. So, four Major Hurricanes formed in the Atlantic and hit something major.

Meanwhile, Jose, another Major hurricane at Cat 4 status, still spinning about in the North Atlantic, is one of those that hit nothing. And that’s all so far this year.

Last year, there were almost exactly the same number of named storms in total (so far) and just like 2017, 2016 had four major hurricanes.

You remember Matthew, which scraped the Atlantic coast and was rather damaging. But do you remember Gaston (Cat 3)? Nicole (Cat 4)? Otto (Cat 3)?

Gaston and Nicole wandered about in the Atlantic and hit nothing. Otto was for real, it hit Central America, but not the US, so from the US perspective, it counts as a non-hitting hurricane. Also, it was only barely cat 3 and weakened quickly.

From 2000 to 2016, inclusively, we have had an average of 15 named storms per year, with a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 28, with most years being between 10 and 16. So far 2017 has had 13 named storms. We may have a couple more. So, likely, we will be right in the middle.

For the same period, the number of hurricanes has ranged from 2 to 15 with an average of about 7. This year, we have had … wait for it … 7. We may or ma not get another one, not very likely two more. In other words, this is an average year for the number of hurricanes.

For the same period, the number of major hurricanes ranges from 0 (though only one year ad zero, it is more typical to have 2 in a low year) to 7, but again, 7 is extreme. It is usually from 2-5. The average is just over 3. This year, we have four. That’s pretty typical.

So, within the context that the last couple of decades has had a somewhat higher than average frequency of hurricanes, and probably more strong ones than previous decades, this we had a typical year this year.

Why does it feel different? Why is it in fact difference, with respect to the horror of it all? Because we had more landfalls, and more serious landfalls.

Keep in mind that Harvey could have hit Houston differently and done more damage. Keep in mind that Cuba beat up Irma, then Irma failed to strike Florida in just the right way to do maximum damage. Keep in mind that after wiping out Puerto Rico, Maria swerved quickly out to sea. In other words, keep in mind that this year could have been much worse than it was.

This is the point that you must understand: Any year can be like this year, or worse. And, with increasing sea surface temperatures and other global warming related factors, worse still.

Heartland Institute BS Book

I had the immense pleasure and great honor of joining Molly, Nick, and Tim on the Geeks Without God podcast to talk about the recent mailing of a book and some other material about climate change to science teachers, by the Heartland Institute. This mailing was an effort to sow seeds of doubt about climate science, but the way they pulled off this little caper will probably have the opposite effect.

The Heartland Institute does not survive this conversation. No kittens or puppies were harmed, though.

Go Here To Listen To the Podcast, and Support Geeks Without God (not safe for work, depending on where you work)

As you listen, you may find the following items of use.

For more information about the Heartland Institute, go HERE.

Also, this.

For more information about the Consensus Project (the good guys) go HERE.

NASA GISS is HERE.

The Berkeley Earth Project is HERE.

For more on Judith Curry, go HERE.

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 10.47.39 AM

Stop punching the hippies

My coffee mug, just sayin:

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 10.50.14 AM

To find out more about ALEC, go HERE.

More on the police state.Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 10.56.17 AM

Public input for Minnesota on the Volkswagen settlement.

This is what a science textbook looks like

LOL:Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 11.03.06 AM

Making Sense of Climate Denial, Climate Denial 101 course

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Collecting meteorites

Recommended books about climate change:

The central scientific argument explained most clearly: Dire Predictions, 2nd Edition: Understanding Climate Change

But what about the models, were the models wrong or right? Climatology versus Pseudoscience: Exposing the Failed Predictions of Global Warming Skeptics

In the eyes of a political cartoonist: The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy

A cogent account of he politics of climate denial: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines

Follow the money: Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

An Update on the Arctic Sea Ice

As we pass through Spring on the way to summer, the sea ice in the Arctic is starting to melt. The ice usually peaks by the end of the first week in March or so, then slowly declines for a few weeks, then by about mid-May is heading rapidly towards its likely September minimum.

With global warming the ice has been reaching a lower winter maximum, and a much lower summer maximum. This is caused by warm air and water, and it contributes to global warming. The more ice on the sea for longer, during the northern Summer, reflects away a certain amount of sunlight. With less ice, less sunlight is reflected away. This is called a “positive feedback” but it is not a “positive” thing. It is a negative thing. (But it is not a “negative feedback,” that’s something different!)

We have seen a steady, but mostly recent, decline in sea ice. For years, climate science deniers have been telling us not to worry, the Arctic ice would come back.

But it hasn’t, and it is not going to.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center keeps track of the amount of sea ice on the Arctic. They have a nifty tool that you can use to plot the data from 1979 to the most recently available information, which is generally a today or yesterday. I used that tool to make a series of graphics I’d like to share with you here. Read the captions to get the key interpretations. The bottom line: Arctic sea ice reduction has accelerated and is not showing any sign of stabilizing.

I’m reminded of a saying allegedly uttered by thoracic surgeons. The bleeding always stops. Eventually. In a similar vein, I assume the reduction of Arctic sea ice will eventually stop. Then the Dinosaurs can live in the Arctic again!.

The chart with no year by year data shown. The grey line is the "baseline" which is usually a 20 or 30 year period against which to measure each year.  The grey area is the range over which almost all years occur in this baseline. Since it is two standard deviations that is about 95% of the years within the baseline period. Any year outside of that line is a significant anomaly.
The chart with no year by year data shown. The grey line is the “baseline” which is usually a 20 or 30 year period against which to measure each year. The grey area is the range over which almost all years occur in this baseline. Since it is two standard deviations that is about 95% of the years within the baseline period. Any year outside of that line is a significant anomaly.
These are the first ten years of available data. Notice that during this period, essentially, the 1980s,  all the years are above the average for most of the year.
These are the first ten years of available data. Notice that during this period, essentially, the 1980s, all the years are above the average for most of the year.
As we shift to the next ten year period, 1990 to 1999, the total ice cover throughout the year is less, close to the baseline average.
As we shift to the next ten year period, 1990 to 1999, the total ice cover throughout the year is less, close to the baseline average.

This trend continues in more recent years, with almost all years being below the baseline average.  Remember that second graph above where all the years were above average? That shows that the baseline is set during a period of actual warming, so it is an underestimate of how much ice should be there. And now, during the period 2000 - 2009, all the years have much less ice than this.
This trend continues in more recent years, with almost all years being below the baseline average. Remember that second graph above where all the years were above average? That shows that the baseline is set during a period of actual warming, so it is an underestimate of how much ice should be there. And now, during the period 2000 – 2009, all the years have much less ice than this.
Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 7.50.55 PM

This is the third year in a row that maximum sea ice has broken a record for being low.

The Inconceivably Bogus Republican Science Committee Hearings

Last week, House Representative Lamar Smith held yet another masturbatory hearing to promote climate science denial. Smith is bought and paid for by Big Oil, so that is the most obvious reason he and his Republican colleagues would put on such a dog and pony show, complete with a chorus of three science deniers (Judith Curry, Roger Pielke Jr, and John Cristy). I don’t know why they invited actual and respected climate scientist Mike Mann, because all he did was ruin everything by stating facts, dispelling alt-facts, and making well timed Princess Bride references.

The hearings were called “Full Committee Hearing- Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method.”

Several others, including specialized climate science writers as well as mainstream media, have written about the hearings:

<li><strong>Dana Nuccitelli at the Guardian:</strong> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/apr/04/inconceivable-the-latest-theatrical-house-science-committee-hearing">Inconceivable! The latest theatrical House 'Science' committee hearing</a></li>

… as is usually the case in these hearings, despite being presented with the opportunity to learn from climate experts, most of the committee members seemed more interested in expressing their beliefs, however uninformed they might be.

At the 2:04:05 mark in the hearing video, Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL) provided a perfect example … asking witness Judith Curry what causes ice ages (Milankovich cycles, which we’ve known for nearly 100 years), so that he could make the point that natural factors caused past climate changes – a point that usually leads to a common logical fallacy (presented here in cartoon form).

Webster proceeded to claim it was “the standard belief of most scientists” in the 1970s that the Earth was headed into an ice age.

This has been discussed at length on this blog, see especially this guest post. It is indeed true that back in the 1960s (and a little ways into the 70s) climate scientists considered cooling as well as warming for future scenarios. As Dana points out in his post, this was partly due to the consideration of aerosols (dust) that might cause a cooling effect sufficient to push us into an ice age. But it has been understood for much longer that the most likely scenario was not cooling, but warming, if we keep putting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

<li><strong>Ben Jervey</strong> at Desmog: <a href="https://www.desmogblog.com/2017/03/29/house-science-committee-hearing-lamar-smith-michael-mann-climate-consensus-deniers">House Science Committee Hearing Pits Three Fringe Climate Deniers Against Mainstream Climate Scientist Michael Mann</a></li>

Ben nots that the intent of these hearings, despite the alt-reasons given by the chair, was to provide a platform for the tiny number of scientists (plus Roger) with positions that must be regarded as firmly in the science denial camp.

Besides Dr. Mann (author of The Madhouse Effect) the other three experts will all be familiar to DeSmog readers:

  • Dr. Judith Curry, a former professor at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who has since resigned to focus on her private business, Climate Forecast Applications Network. Curry has admitted to receiving funding from fossil fuel companies while at Georgia Tech, and she is frequently cited and quoted by climate skeptic blogs and fossil fuel-funded politicians for her stance that the climate is “always changing.”
  • Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and Director of the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and the official Alabama State Climatologist since November 2000, who routinely critiques climate modeling and has sung the praises of carbon dioxide.
  • Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., who is not a climate scientist, but a climate science policy writer working at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and who Joe Romm at Climate Progress once called “probably the single most disputed and debunked person in the science blogosphere, especially on the subject of extreme weather and climate change.”
  • “The witness panel does not really represent the vast majority of climate scientists,” said Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, an Oregon Democrat. “Visualize 96 more climate scientists that agree with the mainstream consensus … 96 more Dr. Manns.”

    <li>Dan Vergano at BuzzFeed: <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/danvergano/mann-inquisition?utm_term=.vwArzR8GR#.kaXl5RdKR">This Famous Climate Scientist Just Endured A Washington Inquisition</a></li>
    

    Climate science went on trial on Wednesday at a hearing held by Congress’s notoriously grouchy science committee.//

    The witness list pitted Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann — a lightning rod for energy industry-funded attacks on scientists for two decades — against two scientists critical of their own field, former Georgia Tech scientist Judith Curry and University of Alabama satellite scientist John Christy, as well as a political scientist, Roger Pielke Jr. of the University Colorado, who has argued against links between climate change and extreme weather. These three climate skeptics had collectively testified 20 times previously at similar Congressional hearings.

    As Dan implies, the gang of three deniers, and a few others, have been before this and other panels in the US Congress again and again. Interestingly, the short list of deniers available has grown shorter over the years. There are no new ones — that 97% consensus figure works only if you include everyone. If you look only at younger scientists, it is very hard to find any deniers — so there is some attrition for the usual demographic reasons. But also, at least one denier, Heartland funded alt-Harvard scientist Willie Soon, has been taken off the list because his reputation died an ugly death from self inflicted wounds.

    <li>Devin Henry at <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/326336-members-researchers-spar-over-climate-science-at-hearing">The Hill: House Panel Hearing Becomes Climate Change Sparring Session</a></li>
    

    “The current scientific consensus on human-caused climate change is based on thousands of studies conducted by thousands of scientists all around the globe,” committee ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) said.

    … Michael Mann criticized committee Republicans for their NOAA probe, saying it “is meant to send a chilling signal to the entire research community, that if you, too, publish and speak out about the threat of human-caused climate change, we’re going to come after you.”

    Mann sparred directly with Smith, highlighting a Friday article in Science magazine that criticized Smith for speaking at a conference for climate change skeptics. Science magazine is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    “That is not known as an objective writer or magazine,” Smith said.

    Mann replied, “Well, it is ‘Science’ magazine.”

    This part, which is also discussed in the above referenced piece at the Guardian, was amazing. When Smith called the United State’s primary science journal a biased source, I could hear the sound of jaws dropping in unison across the world.

    <li>Rebecca Leber at Mother Jones: <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/03/michael-mann-lamar-smith-house-science-committee">A Scientist Just Spent 2 Hours Debating the Biggest Global Warming Deniers in Congress</a></li>
    

    Michael Mann lamented that he was the only witness representing the overwhelming scientific consensus that manmade global warming poses a major threat.

    “We find ourselves at this hearing today, with three individuals who represent that tiny minority that reject this consensus or downplay its significance, and only one—myself—who is in the mainstream,” he said in his opening testimony.

    Mann blasted Republicans for “going after scientists simply because you don’t like their publications of their research—not because the science is bad, but because you find the research inconvenient to the special interests who fund your campaigns.” He added, “I would hope we could all agree that is completely inappropriate.”

    <li>Emily Atkin: <a href="https://newrepublic.com/minutes/141716/house-republicans-held-insane-hearing-just-attack-climate-science">House Republicans held an insane hearing just to attack climate science</a></li>
    

    The Trump administration has been nothing if not a master class in gaslighting—the art of manipulating people, often through lies, into questioning their own sanity—and its pupils on Capitol Hill have clearly been taking notes. On Wednesday, the Republicans on the House Science Committee held a three-hour hearing on the merits of climate change science, a cavalcade of falsehoods so relentless and seemingly rational that one might well need psychiatric counseling after having watched it.

    I’m going to disagree with Emily on the ordering of things. The Republicans were already very good at doing this. It may be that Trump learned from them, or it might just be that governing from the conservative agenda and real estate both involve a lot of gaslighting.

    But, she is right; this is gaslighting. EG:

    At one point, a Republican on the committee even tried to pin the label of “climate denier” on Michael Mann, a world-renowned climate scientist the Democrats had called to defend mainstream science. Georgia Congressman Barry Loudermilk asked Mann if he though it was possible, even in the slightest, that humans are not the main driver of climate change. Mann said that based on the current data, it’s not possible. Loudermilk concluded: “We could say you’re a denier of natural change.”

    Dave Levitan at Gizmodo: Today’s Congressional Hearing on Climate Change Was a Colossal Train Wreck

    It was, overall, a horrendously depressing display of scientific illiteracy, but there were some odd bits of optimism to be found. The witnesses all agreed at various points that yes, the climate is changing and that humans play a role (though they disagreed, contrary to overwhelming evidence, on the magnitude of that role), and they also agreed that the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to Earth-observing systems at NASA, NOAA, and elsewhere are a monumentally dumb idea.

    What’s more, perhaps the best point was made by one of the GOP witnesses, Roger Pielke, Jr.: “Scientific uncertainty is not going to be eliminated on this topic before we have to act.”

    In other words, not knowing everything is not a justification for doing nothing.

    One of the more disturbing moments during the hearing was when Republican representative Clay Higgins asked Mike Mann if he was a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. At first, I was surprised to hear the answer: “No.” Then, I realized, that if you are a smart witness, often called as a witness, then other than the major professional societies, it is probably better to not be a member of anything.

    It was even more shocking when Higgins, who is clearly not the sharpest bullet in the chamber, demanded that Mann provide proof that he is not a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Mann indicated that he had already provided his resume, which does not say that he is a UCS member, but would be happy to send a second copy.

    Sorry, Mike, that is not proof that you are not a card carrying member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. You will need something better than that. Here, for example, is a valid Not a Member card:

    Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 1.28.08 PM

    You’re welcome.

    I have placed the YouTube video of the entire hearing at the bottom of the post.

    Starts at about 15 minutes:

    How Global Warming Causes Extreme Weather: New research

    I want to tell you about what may be the most important research result in the area of climate change in recent years. First, a little background.

    We know from paleoclimate studies that the Earth’s climate system changes from time to time enough to leave a mark. For example, it is widely thought that during the “ice ages” (periods of extensive or moderate glaciation) over the last couple of million years, areas that are currently very dry had a lot more water. Some combination of rain and evaporation (more rain and less evaporation) conspired to fill playas (dried up lakes) or salt lakes (like the Great Salt Lake in Utah) with so much fresh water that inland basins filled and started to drain out to the sea. It is hard to imagine how the weather would have been so different to make the arid regions of the American West into very wet places, long term, but it happened.

    As we head towards a warmer and warmer planet, one would think that whatever happened during the ice ages would be the opposite of what we would expect in the future. To some extent that is almost certainly true, as certain regions will likely be much dryer in a heated up world than they were during the cooler ice ages. But some patterns of climate change are not simply characterized by temperature. The pattern of movement of air, and the pattern of moisture in the air, can be different from one climate system to another in very complex ways. Perhaps (this is very conjectural) the recent intense rains we see in the American West would be a common phenomenon in a warmed world. Perhaps the phenomenon of ARkStorm, a very rare situation where several “pineapple express” style storms happen over a single winter, large ones, in rapid sequence, filling the dry valleys of the American West with giant lakes and wiping out low lying villages and most of the crop land. That kind of feels like the Pleistocene when the great inland deserts were converted int great inland lakes! Or, perhaps the multe-year california drought that we experienced up until just a few months ago will become the “normal” situation.

    Don’t get me started, but it is not difficult to imagine a world in which the American west has 4 to 10 year long droughts punctuated with a couple of winters in a row sufficiently wet to fill those lakes, so we get both!


    ADDED: Jet Streams, Extreme Weather and Other Things with Stefan Rahmstorf


    Here is the point of all this: Back in the 1950s through the early 1980s, by my estimation, North America (and probably many regions in the world) experienced stereotypical storm patterns that were like storm patterns seen over many centuries, though with the occasional interruption for something strage for a few years. 1860 – 1861 were strange years out west. The 1930s were strange in a lot of places. But what happened startomg around 1980 or so was different.

    Prior to 1980s, storms in North America came from certain directions, were more common during certain times of years, dropped a range of precipitation amounts on the ground, and rarely were severe in the amount of rain that occurred. After 1980, the timing and various aspects of the physical nature of those storms including their apparent directionality and the speed which with they passed through, changed.

    For example, in Minnesota, at the Twin Cities airport, there was an average of about 1.64 above 2 inch rainfall events per year for the hundred years of record keeping before 1971. In the time following, to the present, that number went up to about 2.7. Since about 2000 that number has gone to close to 3.5. Meanwhile, out east, the frequency of large blizzards has gone from one every few years to at least one in most years.

    Putting this a slightly different way, the chance in a given year of having a major storm around these parts has more than doubled, with that doubling happening well within the lifetime of most of the people who live in the region.

    I’ve written before about a special class of research on climate change that I have always regarded as among the most important. The authors of that earlier work overlap with the most recent work, with a key player being Stefan Rahmstorf. Rahmstorf and his colleagues, a few years ago, tackled an interesting problem that others had also noticed, and for which a number of explanations were floating around. Speaking of floating, this work surfaced and got some real traction when the Rocky Mountains near Boulder, and up near Calgary, were each hit by a really bad and very special kind of storm.

    In each case, the storm system was trained along a very curvy and slow moving jet stream. When the jet stream slows it curves, or when it curves, it slows, or, really, kinda both. When that happens, if there is a big wet storm following along in the air system that itself creates/is created by the jet stream, that storm also slows. Fed by a more or less unending supply of moisture, such a storm can drop a lot of rain on a given region. We tend to think of the most severe storms as being fast moving, and they often are. Hurricanes can be pretty darn fast. Rapidly moving fronts coming off a dry line are associated with either tornado outbreaks or derecho storms. But these big and slow jet stream mediated storms are very very wet. Calgary was badly flooded, like no one has seen before. Boulder was very badly flooded more than in anyone’s memory.

    Storms like this happen now and then, and can be found in historical records, and may have even happened in or near Calgary or Boulder at some time in the past. But since Calgary, we have had many many more such storms. Here in Minnesota, we’ve had a few. St. Louis had one. Texas had had a bunch of them. They’ve happened in China, Japan, all across Europe.

    These storms, which are associated with a jet stream that is curvy and slow, are now common, and they were once rare.

    What is the climate change connection? How do we know that global warming causes this?

    There are a couple of different lines of evidence. First, as noted by the earlier work, and exemplified in the graph I put at the top of the post, which I made a couple of years ago, researchers have noticed that these curvy jet stream are more common. Another reason to think this is that curvy jet streams are expected to be associated with an Arctic that is warming more rapidly than the rest of the planet.

    How does that work? I can explain it in general terms that will probably make some atmospheric scientists yell at me, but that I think is close to reality and also understandable by the average science-savvy civilian.

    The big features of the weather system on a planet with an atmosphere have to do with heat reaching equilibrium across the planet. There is more heat near the equator, less near the poles, so it is all about heat moving from the equators to the poles, but also, hot stuff, water or air, making that journey. This hypothetically sets up an interesting phenomenon in the atmosphere that can be thought of as a giant twisting donut — a plain round donut shaped donut, not some hipster cream filled donut — just north of the equator, and another donut just south of it. Air is moving up in altitude at the equator, cools and spreads away from the equator, then drops back down to the surface, and heads back to where it was originally heated to get warmed up again.

    This pair of giant twisting donuts of air helps set up another giant twisting donut of air to the north and south, and those donuts can, in turn, set up another, and so on. On a small planet like Mars, with a thin atmosphere, there may be one single donut per hemisphere. On giant heavy atmosphere planets like Jupiter and Saturn, you get many such donuts, and an overall striped appearance from a distance.

    On earth, you get one really well defined donut (in each hemisphere) then a poorly defined donut, then another donut that is fairly well defined but that is also rotating in a circle, around the pole, much like a donut that got partly stepped on, rolled out the door of the donut shop, and his heading down the street.

    Now here’s the thing, the explanation you can understand once you rap your head around these donuts: If the difference in heat at the equator vs. at the poles is great, the donuts are well defined and energetic. If the difference in heat between the equator and the poles is less, the donuts become less well defined, wobbly, and curvy.

    The upper atmosphere region between adjoining donuts and the jet stream are more or less the same thing. So, as the arctic warms faster than the rest of the planet, the donuts change their configuration and you get curvy jet streams that can set up to remain in the same location over long periods of time.

    Simple.

    There was, however, a major missing part of this theory, and Michael Mann, climate scientist, joined the Rahmstorf et al team to fill in that blank. It is very difficult to be sure that a climatic phenomenon is either a) for real or b) characterizable as you’ve witnessed it, when you are looking at it for just a few years. If there is a change in climate because of the above described effects, there are not too many years of data allowing us to track it, observe its variations, or to figure out exactly how it works. This is complicated by several factors. For example, an alternate but similar explanation for the waves themselves, and the weather that comes with them, is the warming of the North Pacific. Hell, it could be both factors, because both factors may reduce the heat differential between the midriff and heads of the planet.

    There are two obvious solutions to this problem. One is to sit back and wait a hundred years or so and collect data then consider the problem with a lot more information at hand. I’m sure climate scientists are busy doing this as we speak, but it may take a while! The other is to use climate modeling to simulate long periods of time, and see if quai-resonant waves and changes in the weather pattern are associated with anthropological global warming.

    Michael Mann told me “that there is now a detectable influence of anthropogenic climate change on jet stream dynamics associated with extreme, persistent weather events like the 2010 Russian heat wave/wildfires, 2011 Texas heat wave/drought, 2013 European floods, etc. This is the first article, in my view, to demonstrate a robust such connection.”

    This research involved combining some 50 climate models that comprise the CMIP5 project, and historical observations of climate over time. They found that under conditions of a warming Arctic, “standing waves” (quasi-resonant waves in other parlance) formed, just as we’ve seen during recent bad weather events. Above, I focused on rainfall events, but drought, extreme fire conditions, etc. are the other side of the coin, or rather, the other side of the jet streams. A persistent standing wave in a jet stream can cause a few nice and sunny days to transform into several years lack of rain, and a drought.

    “Both the models and observations suggest this signal has only recently emerged from the background noise of natural variability. We are now able to connect the dots when it comes to human-caused global warming and an array of extreme recent weather events,” said Mann.

    Here is the abstract of the paper:

    Persistent episodes of extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere summer have been shown to be associated with the presence of high-amplitude quasi-stationary atmospheric Rossby waves within a particular wavelength range (zonal wavenumber 6–8). The underlying mechanistic relationship involves the phenomenon of quasi-resonant amplification (QRA) of synoptic-scale waves with that wavenumber range becoming trapped within an effective mid-latitude atmospheric waveguide. Recent work suggests an increase in recent decades in the occurrence of QRA-favorable conditions and associated extreme weather, possibly linked to amplified Arctic warming and thus a climate change influence. Here, we isolate a specific fingerprint in the zonal mean surface temperature profile that is associated with QRA-favorable conditions. State-of-the-art (“CMIP5”) historical climate model simulations subject to anthropogenic forcing display an increase in the projection of this fingerprint that is mirrored in multiple observational surface temperature datasets. Both the models and observations suggest this signal has only recently emerged from the background noise of natural variability.

    Historical data and cutting edge modeling and analysis strongly indicates that global warming, caused by human release of greenhouse gas, is increasing the frequency of persistent weather extremes such as very wet or very dry conditions. This paper looked at the northern hemisphere summer.

    We have long passed the point where you can say with a straight face, “you can’t attribute a given weather event to global warming.” Climate change is change in climate; weather is climate today, climate is weather long term. Weather generally carries the climate change signal, and some of the weather is very different than it was prior to recent decades because of that change. You can’t separate a given weather event from global warming.

    Michael E. Mann, Stefan Rahmstorf, Kai Kornhuber, Byron A. Steinman, Sonya K. Miller & Dim Coumou, 2017, Influence of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Planetary Wave Resonance and Extreme Weather Events.

    Broadcast Media Dropped The Climate Change Ball in 2016 UPDATED

    Media Matters has an amazing and rather depressing report out on the way broadcast media in the US covered climate change.

    I’m going to give you a handful of bullet points that reflect only some of the results of this detailed study, then you go read it.

    <li>Bottom line: Coverage in 2016 was a fraction of the previous year, even though there was more climate change news in 2016 than most years ever have.</li>
    
    <li>ABC covered climate change for a total of six minutes during the entire year of 2016</li>
    
  • None of the major networks discussed the climate related consequences of a Clinton vs. a Trump presidency
  • In most areas, PBS did better than the commercial networks.
  • There was not a single mention of national security concerns related to climate change, and almost noting on public health impacts
  • The Clean Power Plan was virtually ignored on Sunday shows and hardly covered anywhere else
  • Climate change denial got uncritical coverage by CBS, Fox and PBS, all sourced from Trump campaign people or Trump himself
  • The Exxon Knew story was completely ignored by the major networks.
  • Read: How Broadcast Networks Covered Climate Change in 2016

    _____________________________________________
    Best and current books on Climate Change
    _____________________________________________

    UPDATE:

    From Media Matters:

    U.S. senators are calling on broadcast networks to fulfill their duty and bolster their news coverage of climate change, after a Media Matters study found that the networks dramatically decreased their coverage of climate change in 2016, during a campaign in which the U.S. elected a climate denier as president.

    Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) issued statements this week calling on the major broadcast networks to fulfill their responsibility and provide audiences with essential reporting on the impacts of and science surrounding climate change, as well as related policies. The senators’ statements were made in response to a study by Media Matters finding that in 2016, evening newscasts and Sunday shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as Fox Broadcast Co.’s Fox News Sunday, collectively decreased their total coverage of climate change by 66 percent compared to 2015.

    Read the statements from the Senators here.

    Dr. Gavin Schmidt’s Epic Response to Scott Adams

    Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, the once funny but now highly repetitive cartoon about a nerd who has a job in an office.

    Dr. Gavin Schmidt is high up in the top ten list of world class climate scientists. He is Director of the currently under siege GISS Unit of NASA, where much of the climate science done by that agency is carried out. If you read my blog, you’ve read his work, because you also read RealClimate, where GS writes about climate science in a manner designed to be understandable to the intelligent, honestly interested, thoughtful individual.

    Adams has a history of going after core science concepts, often substituting scientific reality with his own. He has done so with climate science.

    And, he’s done it again. In a recent blog post (of yesterday) Adams tries to “convince skeptics that climate change is a problem”

    This is a re-hash of earlier posts he’s written, in which he does the old denial two step. Of course climate change is real, he says. I’m not a scientist, he says. I don’t know jack about climate science in particular, he says. Then, he uses up piles of ink telling climate scientists how they’ve got all the science wrong.

    His objective, I assume, is to spread and nurture doubt about climate science and science in general.

    Dr Schmidt caught a tweet of Adams’, pointing to his absurd blog post, and responded with a series of tweets addressing all the things.

    I wanted to preserve this excellent, well documented and richly illustrated TweetTextBook, and it occurred to me that you might want to see it too. So, here are the tweets.

    Feel free to add additional relevant tweets to the comments, if you like. I hope this doesn’t break the Internet.

    El Nino Season Two?

    It is like that stabby lady in the bath tub in that movie.

    Here, I’ll give you a more readable version of the graphic from NOAA:

    Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 3.10.43 PM

    The chance of an the Pacific ENSO system being neutral, meaning, not adding extra heat to the atmosphere and not removing extra heat form the atmosphere, is about 50% from now through mid 2017.

    But, the chance of a la Nina is pretty darn low, and the chance of an El Nino, which would add more heat to the atmosphere than the average year, is not only approaching 40% but it has been growing.

    A second El Nino this close on the last one, which was a very severe El Nino, will not be as strong because there is that much heat stored up in the Pacific. A lot of it came out last time. But there is a fair amount left in there, so we could have a real, if not major, El Nino event this summer or fall.

    Or not. This is really up in the air, as it were. But it is a little unusual to see a second El Nino this close in time, so I thought you might find this interesting.

    Natural Hazards and Risk Reduction in the Modern World

    Great disasters are great stories, great moments in time, great tests of technology, humanity, society, government, and luck. Fifty years ago it was probably true to say that our understanding of great disasters was thin, not well developed because of the relative infrequency of the events, and not very useful, not knowledge that we could use to reduce the risks from such events.

    This is no longer true. The last several decades has seen climate science add more climatic data because of decades of careful instrumental data collection happening, but also, earlier decades have been added to understanding the long term trends. We can now track, in detail, global surface temperatures well back into the 19th century, and we have a very good idea of change over time, and variability in, global temperatures on a century level scale for centuries. There is a slightly less finely observed record covering hundreds of thousands of years and an increasingly refined vague idea of global surface temperature for the entire history of the planet.

    This is true as well with earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis. Most of the larger versions of these events leave a mark. Sometimes that mark is an historical record that needs to be found, verified, critiqued for veracity, and eventually added to the mix. Sometimes the mark is geological, like when the coastline of the Pacific Northwest drops a few meters all at once, creating fossilized coastal wetlands that can be dated. Those events are associated with a particular kind of earthquake that happens on average every several hundred years, and now we have a multi-thousand year record of those events, allowing an estimate of major earthquake hazard in the region.

    And so on.

    The theory has also developed, and yes, there is a theory, or really several theories, related to disasters. For example, we distinguish between hazard (chance of a particular disaster happening at a certain level in a certain area) vs. risk (the probability of a particular bad thing happening to you as a results). If you live and work in Los Angeles, your earthquake hazard is high. You will experience earthquakes. But your risk of, say, getting killed in an earthquake is actually remarkably low considering how many there are. Why? Partly because really big ones are rare and fairly localized, and partly because you live in a house and work in a building and drive on roads that meet specifications set out to reduce risk in the case of an earthquake. Also, you “know” (supposedly) what to do if an earthquake happens. If, on the other hand, you live in an old building in San Francisco, you may still be at risk if the zoning laws have not caught up with the science. If you live near sea level in the Pacific Northwest, your earthquake hazard is really low, but if one of those giant earthquakes happens, you have bigly risk. Doomed, even.

    Since my own research and academic interests have involved climate change, sea level rise, exploding volcanoes, mass death due to disease, and all that (catastrophes are the punctuation makrs of the long term archaeological and evolutionary record), I’ve always found books on disasters of interest. And now, I have a new one for you.

    Man catastrophe books are written by science-interested or historically inclined writers, who are not scientists. The regurgitate the historical record of various disasters, giving you accounts of this or that volcano exploding, or this or that tsunami wiping out a coastal city, and so on. But the better books are written by scientist who are very directly, or nearly directly, engaged in the work of understanding, documenting, and addressing catastrophe.

    Curbing Catastrophe: Natural Hazards and Risk Reduction in the Modern World by Timothy Dixon is one of these. Although I was aware of Dixon’s work because of his involvement in remote sensing, I don’t know him, so I’ll crib the publisher’s bio for your edification:

    Timothy H. Dixon is a professor in the School of Geosciences and Director of the Natural Hazards Network at the University of South Florida in Tampa. In his research, he uses satellite geodesy and remote sensing data to study earthquakes and volcanoes, coastal subsidence and flooding, ground water extraction, and glacier motion. He has worked as a commercial pilot and scientific diver, conducted research at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and was a professor at the University of Miami, where he co-founded the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS). Dixon was a Distinguished Lecturer for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) in 2006–2007. He is also a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Geological Society of America (GSA), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He received a GSA Best Paper Award in 2006 and received GSA’s Woollard Award in 2010 for excellence in Geophysics.

    Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 11.21.23 AMThis book covers risk theory, the basics of natural disasters, uncertainty, and vulnerability of humans. Dixon looks specifically at Fukushima and the more general problem of untoward geological events and nuclear power plants, and other aspects of tsunamis (including the Northwest Coast problem I mention above). He talks about energy and global warming; I found his discussion of what we generally call “clean energy” a bit outdates. He makes the point, correctly, that for various reasons the increase in price of fossil fuels that would ultimately drive, through market forces, the development of non-fossil fuel sources of electricity and motion is not going to happen for a very long time on its own. Environmentalists who assume there will be huge increase in fossil fuel costs any time now are almost certainly mistaken. However, Dixon significantly understates the rate at which solar, for example, is becoming economically viable. It is now cheaper to start up a solar electricity plant than it is to start any other kind of plant, and the per unit cost of solar is very low and rapidly declining.

    Dixon is a bit of a free marketeer, which I am not, but a realistic one; He makes valid and important points about science communication, time lags and long term thinking, and he makes the case that more research can produce important technological advances.

    By the way, two other books in this genre — catastrophe examined by experts — that I also recommend are Yeats “Earthquake Time Bombs” and the less up to date but geologically grounded Catastrophes!: Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and Other Earth-Shattering Disasters by Don Prothero.

    Climate change is real, it is a problem, and it is getting worse

    The year 2016 was messy and expensive and full of climate change enhanced weather disasters. There were, according to Jeff Masters and Bob Henson, over 30 billion dollar disasters last year.

    This is the fourth-largest number on record going back to 1990, said insurance broker Aon Benfield in their Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report issued January 17 (updated January 23 to include a 31st billion-dollar disaster, the Gatlinburg, Tennessee fire.) The average from 1990 – 2016 was 22 billion-dollar weather disasters; the highest number since 1990 was 41, in 2013.

    The frequency of flood disasters in Europe have doubled over 35 years.

    The number of devastating floods that trigger insurance payouts has more than doubled in Europe since 1980, according to new research by Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance company.

    The firm’s latest data shows there were 30 flood events requiring insurance payouts in Europe last year – up from just 12 in 1980 – and the trend is set to accelerate as warming temperatures drive up atmospheric moisture levels.

    Globally, 2016 saw 384 flood disasters, compared with 58 in 1980, although the greater proportional increase probably reflects poorer flood protections and lower building standards in the developing world

    As I’m sure you’ve heard, he year 2016 was the hottest year on record, and 2017 is also going to be hot. (I personally doubt 2017 will be hotter, but then again, I was thinking that 2016 might not break the 2015 record.)

    Mark Bgoslough as an interesting piece here on how global temperature records are made, analyses, and reported. I recommend reading that. Here, I want to use a graphic he made for that item to point something outI’ve added the green lines. I’ll just leave it here without comment.

    paus_in_global_warming_never_happened

    People in the northeastern US should be about 50% more concerned about global warming than everyone else, because new research suggests that this region will warm about 50% faster than the globe in coming years.

    The fastest warming region in the contiguous US is the Northeast, which is projected to warm by 3°C when global warming reaches 2°C. The signal-to-noise ratio calculations indicate that the regional warming estimates remain outside the envelope of uncertainty throughout the twenty-first century, making them potentially useful to planners. The regional precipitation projections for global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C are uncertain, but the eastern US is projected to experience wetter winters and the Great Plains and the Northwest US are projected to experience drier summers in the future.

    John Abraham summarizes and interprets the results here.

    Regardless of the so-called temperature target, what this study shows is that even if we do keep the globe as a whole to a 2°C temperature increase, some regions, like the Northeast United States will far exceed this threshold. So, what is “safe” for the world is unsafe for certain regions.

    A recent poll tells us that 90% of rural Australians are concerned about the impacts of climate change. Most were concerned about drought and flooding. Fewer than half this coal fire power stations should be phased out.

    I think that if you did a similar poll in the US, you would find that most rural Americans don’t are about climate change, and even fewer think coal should be phased out. Since all rural people, Australians or Americans and everyone else, have already been affected to at least some degree by climate change, and since the science strongly suggests that things will get much worse for them in the future, all of these folks should be concerned and all of them should be for doing something about it. The good news is that the cognitive dissonance we see in the Australia between climate change and concern may be a harbinger for future changes in American attitudes. Australia has probably been affected by severe weather caused or enhanced by climate change to a much larger degree than has Rural America. In short, I expect disdain for coal to catch up to concern about climate change in Oz, while in America, eventually, people will get more and more on board with both.

    Americans are more concerned about not offending farmers than they are about saving them. In American farmlands, we expect climate change to reduce staple crop production substantially by the end of the century. The farmers need to get on board more quickly if they want their grandchildren to be able to be farmers too.

    A question on everyone’s mind: “Is the California Drought over and what does this mean?”

    It looks over. Reservoirs are filling, snow is piling up in the mountains, everything is wet.

    However, there are several things still to consider. For one, the recharging of water supplies is not complete, and if near-zero-rain conditions return right away, the drought will slowly return. This is of course always a concern, but right now we have a slightly different question to ask for California. Is it the case that the conditions that led to the California drought are the “new normal” (a phrase I’m not really happy with) I the sense that from now on, there will be less snow pack, less rainfall, etc. In other words, is it the case that the future of California is generally much dryer all the time with the occasional drenching rainy season, because of climate change?

    We don’t know yet, but there is one fairly obvious area of concern: Snow pack. Snow pack plays a role in watering California. Snow pack forms during the rainy winter, and slowly melts thereafter. If that precipitation wasn’t temporarily stored up as snow, the winter rains would be more flooding, and there would be less water retained in the system for the rest of the year. Increasing warmth, due to global warming, has caused more of the precipitation that falls in the mountains to be rain rather than snow, and it has caused the snow to melt more quickly.

    Warmer temperatures also mean more evaporation, so getting everything all wet and squishy for a few months during the Winter may mean less a few months later when a warm and dry atmosphere starts to drunk the moisture out of the ground and off the reservoir’s surfaces at an accelerated rate.

    This piece by Andrea Thompson at Climate Central does a great job of summarizing the current situation in California.

    I have been noting for years (well, for a couple of years) that the best available paleo data suggest that the current levels of CO2 and/or temperature, protracted over a reasonable amount of time, should be associated with sea levels of about 8 meters. In other words, if you are worried about sea level rise, and you should be, the amount of sea level rise that we are currently locked into is enough to inundate much of Southeast Asia’s rice growing land, large parts of various US states such as Louisiana and Florida, and to cause retreat from many of the world’s most densely settled cities.

    Over recent months the interface between the scientific research and journalism has started to squeeze out the occasional example of this startling fact, one we’ve known for years but have been afraid to say about else we be considered non reputable. From the Independent:

    The last time ocean temperatures were this warm, sea levels were up to nine metres higher than they are today, according to the findings of a new study, which were described as “extremely worrying” by one expert.

    The researchers took samples of sediment from 83 different sites around the world, and these “natural thermometers” enabled them to work out what the sea surface temperature had been more than 125,000 years ago.

    How long will this take? Nobody knows. This depends on how fast the major glaciers melt.

    Carlos Gimenez, mayor of Miami, is already rolling up his pants:

    “Let’s be clear, sea-level rise is a very serious concern for Miami-Dade County and all of South Florida,” Mayor Carlos Gimenez told the crowd Wednesday morning at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center during his annual State of the County address. “It’s not a theory. It’s a fact. We live it every day.”

    Read more here.

    The British Antarctic Survey is abandoning its Halley Base, in Antarctic, because the ice shelf on which it is located had developed a huge crack, so it is no longer safe to be there. They’l be out by the end of March. The crack is known as the “Halloween Crack.” Here’s a short video:

    In the Arctic, sea ice growth so far this year is below any previously observed year. From the National Snoe and Ice Data Center:
    Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 12.08.19 PM

    About Bangladesh:

    Along the coast lies Kutubdia, an island in the Bay of Bengal where lush green rice fields give way to acres and acres of flat fields. Consisting of small rectangles of varying hues of brown, they are salt fields. The encroachment of saline water from rising tides has made rice farming impossible.

    They now “farm” salt. That is not euphemism for farming in salty conditions. They take salt out of the water. That is not a business that will have a lot of future when everybody else along the coasts of low lying countries are doing it as well.

    At the end of 2015, it looked like the negative effects of climate change were accelerating. That turned out to be true, and acceleration of the effects continues. This is probably not a good time to official deny the reality and importance of climate change, but that seems to be what we are doing in the United States.

    Is the California Drought Over?

    My friend Peter Gleick tosses this question aside and informs us that there are actually better questions. Is California having a wet year? How does the snowpack look? Are the reservoirs filling up? Will the groundwater recharge? Will the forests in the Sierra recover with all this precip? Will farmers get all the water they want this year? Will a wet year help the endangered salmon? Will governor Brown cancel the drought declaration? Can Californians stop conserving water and throw some on their lawn?

    It turns out that the answer to most of these questions is not what you would assume unless you know a lot about California’s water. Hey, this would make a great facebook quiz! “Only 50% of Californians can answer all of these questions correctly. Take the quiz now!”

    Anyway, read this: Gleick: Is the drought over? Wrong question!

    Boom: Julia; Karl?

    Update (Mid day Wed):

    The disturbance in the eastern Atlantic is now a depression, and it is reasonably likely that it will be a named storm by mid day tomorrow, Thursday.

    The predictions for the next several days do not have this storm turning into a hurricane any time soon; it should remain a storm or a depression, possibly going back and forth between the two, for four or five days, but after that, perhaps it will turn into something. Or not. Keep an eye on Karl, if this becomes Karl.

    Meanwhile Julia is annoying people in the Southeast, but not doing much. However, keep an eye out for flooding.

    Original Post:
    There was a disturbance in the Atlantic. And it very suddenly developed the attributes to be a named tropical storm, so suddenly we have TS Julia hosing down the East Coast, on land already. That was fast.

    And, farther out in the Atlantic, a zone of disturbance is reasonably likely, but by no means certain, to become a named tropical storm, and it would be called Karl.

    Julia is my daughter, and Karl was my best friend in high school (he died soon after), so this is a big week for me wrt Atlantic storms! Not that you care, but for me it is cool.

    What you might be more interested in is this: The total number of named storms for this time in the Atlantic is normally close to about 10, and with Karl, we’ll be at eleven with several weeks more to go. So, this is becoming a somewhat more active hurricane season than average, as predicted.

    Ian is still out there somewhere.

    Explaining The Recent Extreme Weather: Global Warming

    The human release of greenhouse gasses has ultimately caused changes in weather patterns so that major storm systems in the Northern Hemisphere get wetter and move along more slowly, causing significant rainfall events to occur at a much higher rate than previously. This has become a nearly ongoing phenomenon, with major floods in Canada, Colorado, Texas, Western Europe, Texas again, various places in Azia, more in Europe, Texas again, and so on.

    The short version of the story: The jet stream is often fairly linear, traveling around the planet at a high speed, but it can also get all wavy and those waves can become “quasi resonant” meaning that they sit in the same place for a long period of time. Also, they go slower and thus move weather patterns along more slowly. This can cause the aforementioned major rainfall events, as well as persistent droughts. And we’ve had plenty of both of those.

    I have written quite a bit about this, but especially this item (but see also this). And now we have more research confirming the findings.

    The same (or overlapping) team of researchers that did this earlier work has a new paper out in PNAS. Here’s the summary material from the paper:

    Significance:

    Weather extremes are becoming more frequent and severe in many regions of the world. The physical mechanisms have not been fully identified yet, but there is growing evidence that there are connections to planetary wave dynamics. Our study shows that, in boreal spring-to-autumn 2012 and 2013, a majority of the weather extremes in the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes were accompanied by highly magnified planetary waves with zonal wave numbers m = 6, 7, and 8. A substantial part of those waves was probably forced by subseasonal variability in the extratropical midtroposphere circulation via the mechanism of quasiresonant amplification (QRA). The results presented here support the overall hypothesis that QRA is an important mechanism driving many of the recent exceptional extreme weather events.

    Abstract
    In boreal spring-to-autumn (May-to-September) 2012 and 2013, the Northern Hemisphere (NH) has experienced a large number of severe midlatitude regional weather extremes. Here we show that a considerable part of these extremes were accompanied by highly magnified quasistationary midlatitude planetary waves with zonal wave numbers m = 6, 7, and 8. We further show that resonance conditions for these planetary waves were, in many cases, present before the onset of high-amplitude wave events, with a lead time up to 2 wk, suggesting that quasiresonant amplification (QRA) of these waves had occurred. Our results support earlier findings of an important role of the QRA mechanism in amplifying planetary waves, favoring recent NH weather extremes.

    The paper is: Role of quasiresonant planetary wave dynamics in recent boreal spring-to-autumn extreme events, by Vladimir Petoukhov, Stefan Petri, Stefan Rahmstorf, Dim Coumou, Kai Kornhuber, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.