FIRE

On July 31, 2015, California’s Governor, Jerry Brown issued a Proclamation of a State of Emergency because of the wildfires burning in the state. I’ve decided to post that proclamation in full because it sums up the wildfire situation well. This is Governor Brown’s second state of emergency proclamation this year.

PROCLAMATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY

WHEREAS since June 17, 2015, a series of wildfires has started in the Counties of Butte, El Dorado, Humboldt, Lake, Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, Shasta, Solano, Tulare, Tuolumne, and Yolo. These fires have burned thousands of acres of land and continue to burn; and

WHEREAS these fires have destroyed structures and continue to threaten hundreds of homes, necessitating the evacuation of residents; and

WHEREAS the fires have damaged and continue to threaten critical infrastructure and have forced the closure of major highways and local roads; and

WHEREAS on January 17, 2014, I declared a State of Emergency based on the extreme drought that has now persisted in the State for four years; and

WHEREAS the drought conditions have increased the State’s risk of wildfires, caused millions of trees to die, and increased the severity and spread of the fires throughout the State; and

WHEREAS extreme weather conditions, lightning storms, and high temperatures have increased the risk and severity of fires throughout the State; and

WHEREAS as a result of the numerous fires burning throughout the State, combined with the drought conditions, California’s air quality has significantly deteriorated and impacted public health; and

WHEREAS Federal Fire Management Assistance Grants have been requested and approved for the Wragg Fire burning in the Counties of Napa, Solano, and Yolo and for the North Fire burning in the County of San Bernardino; and

WHEREAS by virtue of the number of fires burning simultaneously, the State’s resources have been significantly committed such that the State will seek the assistance and resources of other states, as necessary, pursuant to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, Public Law 104-321, and sections 179 through 179.9 of the California Government Code; and

WHEREAS the circumstances of these wildfires, by reason of their magnitude, are or are likely to be beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment, and facilities of any single local government and require the combined forces of a mutual aid region or regions to combat; and

WHEREAS under the provisions of section 8558(b) of the California Government Code, I find that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exists in California due to these wildfires.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, in accordance with the authority vested in me by the State Constitution and statutes, including the California Emergency Services Act, and in particular, section 8625 of the California Government Code, HEREBY PROCLAIM A STATE OF EMERGENCY to exist in the State of California due to the wildfires burning throughout the State.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

1. All agencies of the state government shall utilize and employ state personnel, equipment, and facilities for the performance of any and all activities consistent with the direction of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the State Emergency Plan. Also, all citizens are to heed the advice of emergency officials with regard to this emergency in order to protect their safety.

2. The California National Guard shall mobilize under California Military and Veterans Code section 146 (mobilization in case of catastrophic fires) to support disaster response and relief efforts and coordinate with all relevant state agencies, including the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and all relevant state and local emergency responders and law enforcement within the impacted areas.

I FURTHER DIRECT that as soon as hereafter possible, this proclamation be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State and that widespread publicity and notice be given of this proclamation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 31st day of July 2015.

__________________________

EDMUND G. BROWN JR.

Governor of California

ATTEST:

__________________________

ALEX PADILLA

Secretary of State

The current wildfire map of California can change rapidly. This is the latest.

The statistics for the current year are telling.

Wildfires are up over 1,200 compared to last year and over 1,300 compared to the five year average. The fact that total acreage is down might be due to increased personnel and planning for an early start of the fire season and it just might be no longer true since the Rocky Fire in Lake County, one county west of Mendocino County, has exploded to over 46,000 acres. We have a long ways to go before fire season is over if it ever is.

California’s wildfire season typically peaks in the summer and into the early fall, with the most intense fires occurring in late September and October. However, fire experts say that since 2000, the number of days considered vulnerable to fire outbreaks has been growing. Today, California’s fire season is about 70 days longer compared to 40 years ago, Weather.com says. More than half of the 20 largest wildfires in the state’s history have occurred in the past 15 years.

But California isn’t the only state that’s in bad shape.

The States of Washington and Oregon are also having a bad time.

The flames sent a terrifying message: Normally soggy Washington — nicknamed the Evergreen State for good reason and home to the wettest town in the Lower 48 — has never been hotter or drier at this point in the year, officials say, and the fire season has never begun so early or so fiercely.

“It’s more reminiscent of Southern California and the brush fires fed by the Santa Ana winds,” said Peter Goldmark, head of the state Department of Natural Resources. “Now it’s up here in the state of Washington, where this kind of behavior is unseen. It’s heralding a radical change in the kinds of fires we’re going to see.”

And what does happen when a rainforest burns?

The wettest rainforest in the continental United States had gone up in flames and the smoke was so thick, so blanketing, that you could see it miles away. Deep in Washington’s Olympic National Park, the aptly named Paradise Fire, undaunted by the dampness of it all, was eating the forest alive and destroying an ecological Eden.

The old-growth rainforest that stretches across the western valleys of the Olympic National Park is its crown jewel. As UNESCO wrote in recognizing the park as a World Heritage Site, it includes “the best example of intact and protected temperate rainforest in the Pacific Northwest.” In those river valleys, annual rainfall is measured not in inches but in feet, and it’s the wettest place in the continental United States. There you will find living giants: a Sitka spruce more than 1,000 years old; Douglas fir more than 300 feet tall; mountain hemlock at 150 feet; yellow cedars that are nearly 12 feet in diameter; and a western red cedar whose circumference is more than 60 feet.

For firefighters, combating such a blaze in an old-growth rainforest with steep hills is, at best, an impossibly dangerous business. Large trees are “falling down regularly,” firefighter Dave Felsen told the Seattle Times. “You can hear cracking and you try to move, but it’s so thick in there that there is no escape route if something is coming at you.”

But it is Alaska where things are grim.

Every day they update the numbers. And every day, the number of acres burned in Alaska seems to leap higher yet again.

As of Monday, it is at 4,447,182.2 acres, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center — a total that puts the 2015 wildfire season in sixth place overall among worst seasons on record. It’s very likely to move into fifth place by Tuesday — and it’s still just mid-July. There is a long way to go.

According to the Center, 2015 is now well ahead of the rate of burn seen in the worst year ever, 2004, when 6,590,140 acres burned in 701 fires. “Fire acreage totals are more than 14 days ahead of 2004,” the agency notes. In other words, and although the situation could still change, we may be watching the unfolding of the worst year ever recorded.

Let’s not leave Canada out of this post.

Wildfire danger throughout Western Canada is “very high,” according to the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System (CWFIS), with the majority of fire activity taking place in three provinces: Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Alberta. “Nationally,” the CWFIS’ most recent report reads, “fire activity has increased dramatically and is now well above average for this time of year.”

According to Mashable, more than 13,000 people in the province of Saskatchewan have been evacuated because of the fires, making it the largest wildfire evacuation in history for the relatively underpopulated province. The province’s premier, Brad Wall, told CBC News that the fires are “unprecedented” for the region, noting that the area currently burning is about 10 times the average. As of Monday, there were 112 fires burning across the province.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the wildfires up north are causing a “tremendous amount of smoke,” and it hasn’t stopped at the border: smoke from Canada’s wildfires has been seen across Midwest and as far south as North Carolina, bringing a haze to the sky and turning sunsets fiery red. But the smoke also brings dangerous fine particles, which can diminish air quality and, in high concentrations, pose a public health threat.

Smoke drifting south from wildfires burning in Canada clouds the skyline last week in Denver.

David Zalubowski/AP

Smoke conditions on June 10, 2015.

A hazy, polluted Minneapolis skyline from Ridgeway Parkway Park on Monday. (Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via AP)

Tiny particles in smoke from wildfires may increase the danger of acute heart problems, including cardiac arrest and ischemic heart disease, especially among vulnerable people, according to a new study published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The findings are especially worrisome as heavy smoke generated from wildfires in Alaska and Canada continues to drift southward. Smoke already has made its way down into the northern United States, including Montana, the Central Plains, the Upper Mississippi Valley, and into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

“During bushfires there is widespread and huge quantities of smoke, and people are exposed,” said Anjali Haikerwal, study author and a doctoral candidate at the school of public health and preventive medicine at Monash University in Melbourne. “These particulates can be easily inhaled deep into the lungs. These particles may act as a trigger factor for acute cardiovascular health events.”

Then there is that other problem! What does happens when wildfire meets permafrost in Alaska and Canada?

As Sam Harrel, spokesperson for the Alaska Fire Service, puts it in understated terms, “We are on a track for a lot of acres this year.” But the real problem is that the fires could accelerate the melting of permafrost, a layer of ground that’s never supposed to get above freezing. And permafrost is one of Earth’s great storehouses of carbon. Release it, and you speed up climate change.

What ties all that together is “duff,” the thick layer of moss, twigs, needles, and other living or once-living material that blankets the forest floor. Duff can be up to a foot thick, and it provides the insulation that keeps permafrost cold through even the sunny days of summer. But when fire comes along, duff becomes fuel. Burning duff releases carbon too, of course, but losing it is like ripping the insulation out of a refrigerator.What ties all that together is “duff,” the thick layer of moss, twigs, needles, and other living or once-living material that blankets the forest floor. Duff can be up to a foot thick, and it provides the insulation that keeps permafrost cold through even the sunny days of summer. But when fire comes along, duff becomes fuel. Burning duff releases carbon too, of course, but losing it is like ripping the insulation out of a refrigerator.

It’s also a particularly bad time for the permafrost to lose insulation. Last year was Alaska’s hottest ever recorded. Alaska has warmed twice as fast as other states. Alaskans are already worried about how melting permafrost will damage the state’s transportation infrastructure—permafrost is supposed to be permanent, and northerners build roads on it. It’s also a unique habitat for animals and plants.

Losing permafrost wouldn’t just affect Alaskans and Canadians, though. All the permafrost in the world currently stores an estimated 1.4 trillion tons of carbon, twice the amount in the atmosphere. What happens if all that carbon gets released? “We don’t know the answer to that,” says Jon O’Donnell, an ecologist with the National Park Service’s Arctic Network.

 

Globel Fire Maps

On Earth, something is always burning: wildfires started by lightning or people, controlled agricultural fires, or fossil fuels. When anything made out of carbon — whether it’s vegetation, gasoline, or coal — burns completely, the only end products are carbon dioxide and water vapor. But in most situations, burning is not complete, and fires or burning fossil fuels produce a mixture of gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide.

That’s a lot of fire going on people. Think we can handle it?

I have purposely left out all of the dramatic fire pictures and the stories of lost property and death that accompany most fire related stories. This is just an unemotional post that shows that the planet is on fire.

 

When cyclones tear up Oklahoma and hurricanes swamp Alabama and wildfires scorch Texas, you come to us, the rest of the country, for billions of dollars to recover. And the damage that your polluters and deniers are doing doesn’t just hit Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas. It hits Rhode Island with floods and storms.

Sheldon Whitehouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Little Boy-Christ Child-El Niño

It seems that this year everyone is expecting and many hoping for a strong El Niño to develop off the California coast. Part of that sentence is wrong. El Niños don't develop off the California coast. They develop along the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean and the resulting effects push north and south along the coasts of North and South America.

Sea surface temperatuers in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean during the very strong 1997 El Nino event.

So, what is going to happen this year? Well, a few months ago meteorologists began to take note of sea surface height conditions (measured via satellite) that were strikingly similar to what we saw in the months preceding the two last big El Niños (1997-’98 and 1982-’83). This led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to issue an official El Niño watch in early March. Since then, those conditions don’t seem to have gone away – and so the likelihood of El Niño forming continues to rise…

That whole paragraph was written last year on June 18, 2014 in a Grist.com article. As everyone knows that possible El Niño fizzled out. The article states that european scientists thought there was an 90% change of El Niño forming. So much for predictions I thought. In fact there are many confusing ideas about El Niños that people have in their heads. I was so convinced that my “idea” of an El Niño was going to happen last year that I collected numerous articles about when, where, and how and deleted them when it didn't happen. That was dumb because it actually did happen.

The long-anticipated El Niño has finally arrived, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. In their updated monthly outlook released today (March 5, 2015), forecasters issued an El Niño Advisory to declare the arrival of the ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean near the equator.

Due to the weak strength of the El Niño, widespread or significant global weather pattern impacts are not anticipated. However, certain impacts often associated with El Niño may appear this spring in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, such as wetter-than-normal conditions along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Note the “wetter-than-normal conditions along the U.S. Gulf Coast” and think Texas.

RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN / AP

So we really did have an El Niño and nobody really knew because of the confusing nature of El Niños.

Will an El Niño actually help break the California drought? Maybe it will and maybe it won't. It might depend on it's strength. The website, The Myths and Realities of El Niño, explains,

 

However, not all El Niños have the same strength or location, and consequently their impacts can vary significantly. In general, the larger the area and the greater the warming of the eastern Pacific's equatorial waters, the greater the impact on other regions. Since 1950 there have been 23(24?) years during which the equatorial Pacific has warmed enough to be classified as an El Niño. There have been a total of eight seasons beginning in years (1952, 1953, 1958, 1969, 1976, 1977, 2004, 2006, 2013) classified as “weak” El Niños, eight years (1951, 1963, 1968, 1986, 1991, 1994, 2002, 2009) as “moderate”, four years (1957, 1965, 1972, 1987) as “strong” and two years (1982, 1997) as “very strong” El Niños.

Will an El Niño bring lot's of rain to California. Maybe it will and maybe it won't.

Historical records for the past six plus decades for Central California, including the SF Bay Area, show that during the twenty-two El Niño events the rainfall has been roughly above normal (i.e., > 120%) half the time and below normal (see Climatology of El Niño Events and California Precipitation]

Over the same span, Northern California had three wet years during the five strong events, with five above-normal seasons during the seventeen weak-to-moderate El Niños.

Southern California showed more of a wet bias during strong El Niños with above-normal rain in four of the five seasons, near normal the fifth year. During weak to moderate events Southern California precipitation was above normal six of the 17 seasons, near normal six seasons and below normal the remaining five years.

The bottom line is that California can get wet during El Niño, but not always. As a matter of fact, the California drought in the 1976-77 winter was during a weak El Niño. It is important to keep in mind that El Niño is not the only thing happening in the atmosphere and that other patterns can either enhance or detract from its overall impact.

Will an El Niño cause massive damage to California due to flooding. Once again maybe it will or maybe it won't.

It is just as likely that California will have significant flooding in a non-El Niño year. Of the 10 costliest flood years in California since 1950, only four happened during a season when there was an El Niño. Two others occurred during seasons with La Niña, and the final four were when the temperature of the tropical Pacific was near normal…

The major weather pattern that causes flooding in California is when a strong surge of subtropical moisture dumps copious amounts of rain over a portion of California for five to seven days. These are so-called Atmospheric Rivers (“Pineapple connection”) and they are slightly more prevalent during years when there is no El Niño.

Where did El Niños get such a big and scary reputation? I think it's Chris Farley's fault.

It a little late in this post but let's give a simple explanation of what an El Niño is.

    Usually, the wind blows strongly from east to west along the equator in the Pacific. This actually piles up water (about half a meter's worth) in the western part of the Pacific. In the eastern part, deeper water (which is colder than the sun-warmed surface water) gets pulled up from below to replace the water pushed west. So, the normal situation is warm water (about 30 C) in the west, cold (about 22 C) in the east.

    In an El Niño, the winds pushing that water around get weaker. As a result, some of the warm water piled up in the west slumps back down to the east, and not as much cold water gets pulled up from below. Both these tend to make the water in the eastern Pacific warmer, which is one of the hallmarks of an El Niño.

    But it doesn't stop there. The warmer ocean then affects the winds–it makes the winds weaker! So if the winds get weaker, then the ocean gets warmer, which makes the winds get weaker, which makes the ocean get warmer … this is called a positive feedback, and is what makes an El Niño grow.

So the question of the day is will this year's El Niño be a super strong one. Many people think so but are hedging their bets. What's the current prediction?

Nearly all models predict El Niño to continue into the Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, with many multi-model averages predicting a strong event at its peak strength (3-month values of the Niño-3.4 index of +1.5oC or greater; Fig. 6). At this time, the forecaster consensus is in favor of a significant El Niño in excess of +1.5oC in the Niño-3.4 region. Overall, there is a greater than 90% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, and around an 80% chance it will last into early spring 2016.

Some are predicting the strongest El Niño ever recorded. The eastern Pacific Ocean has already seen some strange occurrences this year with record warm temperatures, record sea lion and Cassin's Auklet die-offs and strange marine life showing up.

Credit: NOAA Fisheries West Coast/Flickr

Over 50 birds doc­u­mented by a COASST team out­side of Lin­coln City, OR. © COASST

There are some things that an El Niño can bring and one of these is higher sea levels.

The El Niño event underway in the Pacific Ocean is impacting temperature and weather patterns around the world. But its effects aren’t confined to the atmosphere: A new study has found that the cyclical climate phenomenon can ratchet up sea levels off the West Coast by almost 8 inches over just a few seasons.

When water warms, it expands; in the case of the oceans, that means higher sea levels. This is part of what is causing the global-warming linked long-term rise in the oceans, as they absorb much of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. (Melting land-bound glaciers are also contributing to overall sea level rise.)

The clearest signals from El Niño on coastal sea levels were found along the West Coast; the find wasn’t surprising given that El Niño is a Pacific-based phenomenon.

On Hamlington’s charts, for example, the very strong El Niño events of 1982-83 and 1997-98 clearly jump out in the West Coast data. While the tide gauge and satellite data largely agreed, the satellites seemed to slightly underestimate the El Niño-related rise.

Unsurprisingly the biggest seasonal effects on sea level came during the fall and winter months, when El Niño events typically reach their peak.

The sea level rise signature from El Nino events during the four seasons (top) and the satellite and tide gauge records showing spikes during El Nino years, particularly in 1982 and 1997.

Credit: Hamlington, et al./JGR: Oceans

Sea-level measurements from Fort Point in San Francisco since 1900. This is the longest continuous sea-level record for any site on the West Coast of North America.

Source: US Geological Survey, 1999. USGS Library Call Number: (200) F327 no. 99-175.

From the above chart you can see a rising sea level during normal seasons already. Add in an El Niño year and you can have problems. This is an excellent link that take you to the Ocean Health Index site.

Construction of private homes on the frontal dunes. Homes in central Monterey Bay were threatened by erosion during the high tides, elevated sea levels, and large storm wave of the 1983 El Niño.

Photo courtesy of Gary Griggs, University of California, Santa Cruz

 

A huge wave breaks over the seawall at Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge and crashes onto a parked car on February 1, 1998. Throughout the following week, high winds and heavy rains combined with abnormally high tides to wreak havoc in the San Francisco Bay region. Inset photo shows a worker hauling sandbags through floodwaters in Sausalito, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, on February 7. U.S. Geological Survey scientists have shown that these extreme conditions were the direct result of the 1997—98 El Niño atmospheric phenomenon. (Photos by Lea Suzuki and Vince Maggiora / copyright San Francisco Chronicle.)

El Niño conditions, because of the higher sea levels, cause problems for the endangered Snowy Plover (in addition to it's many other problems) and sand loving shorebirds.

The impacts of El Niño (ENSO) winter storm events have not been mentioned in earlier plover monitoring reports, but the resultant beach erosion could be a contributing factor in reducing available nesting habitat. It may also affect over winter survival rates of potential breeding adults, thus causing a decline in breeding population the following summer. Figure 2 shows a recurring pattern of decreased total number of breeders in years following ENSO events. This trend would support the need for large scale habitat restoration at Point Reyes and further investigation into the impacts of climate change on Western Snowy Plovers.

This study shows problems for other shorebirds.

During an El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event (1997–1998), the extent of sandy habitat was greatly reduced and intertidal habitat was mostly converted to rocky substrate. The overall abundance of shorebirds and the mean abundance of some common species (e.g. sanderling) were depressed, and an uncommon species (surfbird, A. virgata) was unusually abundant during the ENSO event. In summary, the results suggest that sandy beaches are important habitat for many species of shorebirds…

There is further proof that El Niño conditions also affect migratory birds.

We found that migratory birds that over-wintered in South America experienced significantly drier environments during El Niño years, as reflected by reduced Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values, and arrived at stopover sites in reduced energetic condition during spring migration. During El Niño years migrants were also more likely to stopover immediately along the northern Gulf coast of the southeastern U.S. after crossing the Gulf of Mexico in small suboptimal forest patches where food resources are lower and migrant density often greater than larger more contiguous forests further inland.

It doesn't appear to me that California can handle a strong El Niño that involves strong storms with lot's of rain. Recently the remnants of Hurricane Dolores caused some damage in Southern California.

A rare and powerful rainstorm has drenched parched southern California, simultaneously wreaking havoc on major roadways and power lines while helping firefighters gain control of a wildfire that broke out on Friday.

Heavy rains on Saturday and Sunday closed beaches and knocked out power for many southern California residents. The storm rained out a Los Angeles Angels home game for the first time in two decades. The San Diego Padres home game has also been postponed due to inclement weather.

A bridge along Interstate 10, a major freeway connecting southern California and Arizona, washed out on Sunday amid the deluge in the desert. The collapse injured one driver and left hundreds of other cars stranded. It also cut off traffic in both directions, brining travel to a grinding halt.

summer storm delivered rain, thunder and lightning to central and southern California on Saturday, leading to beach closures, flash floods and outages that left tens of thousands of people without power. Photograph: John Bender/AP
A car hangs on the collapsed bridge of the eastbound Interstate 10 freeway west of Desert Center, California. Photograph: Handout/Reuters
So far I've only talked about the west coast. El Niños can have wide ranging effects on other parts of the United States. Some of these can be good and others not so much.

Coastal communities along the U.S. East Coast may be at risk to higher sea levels accompanied by more destructive storm surges in future El Niño years, according to a new study by NOAA. The study was prompted by an unusual number of destructive storm surges along the East Coast during the 2009-2010 El Niño winter.

From 1961 to 2010, it was found that in strong El Niño years, these coastal areas experienced nearly three times the average number of storm surge events (defined as those of one foot or greater). The research also found that waters in those areas saw a third-of-a-foot elevation in mean sea level above predicted conditions.

 

Peru has already declared a state of emergency but other parts of the planet welcomes an El Niño.

Fires in southeast Asia, droughts in eastern Australia, flooding in Peru often accompany El Niño events. Much of the media coverage on El Niño has focused on the more extreme and negative consequences typically associated with the phenomenon. To be sure, the impacts can wreak havoc in some developing and developed countries alike, but El Niño events are also associated with reduced frequency of Atlantic hurricanes, warmer winter temperatures in northern half of U.S., which reduce heating costs, and plentiful spring/summer rainfall in southeastern Brazil, central Argentina and Uruguay, which leads to above-average summer crop yields.

After writing this lengthy article what will it be? Disaster or relief? We will just have to wait and see. It does mean that we will see the hottest year ever. Good luck everybody wherever you are. Hope for the best. I will be on the beach observing it all.

UPDATE–11/18/2015. The 2015 El Niño just crossed into record territory

It's been likened to Godzilla for a reason — the 2015 El Niño event, which can be found amid overheated waters of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, has crossed a threshold into record territory.

The weekly index of average temperature departures from average across the central and eastern equatorial tropical Pacific has exceeded 3 degrees Celsius, or 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, above average for the first time since this index began in 1990, according to new data released on Monday.

This data would suggest that the El Niño that forecasters have said would rank in the top three events ever recorded, has already hit the top spot. But that's not quite the case, since official El Niño strength rankings are based on longer-term averages, specifically, a three-month average.

UPDATE–5/8/16- So did the Godzilla El Niño help relieve our drought in California? Here's the latest map.

“The storm starts, when the drops start dropping

When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping.”

Dr. Seuss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HEAT

I haven’t really felt like writing lately. Don’t know why but maybe it’s the heat. There’s a big smile on my face as I write that comment. Thanks to the app WunderStation you can see that we’ve only had one day over 70° this summer. That was a big 72°F on June 9th. As I look at the chart, what’s scary about it are those winter temperatures.

When we first moved to the Mendocino County coast almost 10 years ago I remember joking about having to turn on the heater during the summer because of the constant fog and low temperatures. That rarely happens these summer days. I have proof that things are changing.

I have never been able to grow zucchini here on the coast. This beauty was just harvested today. So how hot has it been? How about a headline like this.

NOAA: Hottest First Half Of Year In Northern Hemisphere By Stunning 0.36°F

 

Another headline.

Another month, another global heat record broken _ by far

This AP story has some good quotes in it. Good quotes for this post not the planet.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Earth dialed the heat up in June, smashing warm temperature records for both the month and the first half of the year.

Off-the-charts heat is “getting to be a monthly thing,” said Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. June was the fourth month of 2015 that set a record, she said.

“There is almost no way that 2015 isn’t going to be the warmest on record,” she added.

NOAA calculated that the world’s average temperature in June hit 61.48 degrees Fahrenheit (16.33 Celsius), breaking the old record set last year by 0.22 degrees (.12 degrees Celsius). Usually temperature records are broken by one or two one-hundredths of a degree, not nearly a quarter of a degree, Blunden said.

And the picture is even more dramatic when the half-year is considered.

The first six months of 2015 were one-sixth of a degree warmer than the old record, set in 2010, averaging 57.83 degrees (14.35 Celsius).

June was warm nearly all over the world, with exceptional heat in Spain, Austria, parts of Asia, Australia and South America. Southern Pakistan had a June heat wave that killed more than 1,200 people — which, according to an international database, would be the eighth deadliest in the world since 1900. In May, a heat wave in India claimed more than 2,000 lives and ranked as the fifth deadliest on record.

Earth has broken monthly heat records 25 times since the year 2000, but hasn’t broken a monthly cold record since 1916.

“This is what anthropogenic global warming looks like, just hotter and hotter,” said Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona.

Another AP story with the headline-

SUMMER IS SIZZLING: HEAT RECORDS FALL ACROSS US WEST

Seattle, not accustomed to prolonged hot weather, saw its hottest June ever.

The average high temperature each day in June was a record 78.9 degrees, breaking the 1992 record by more than 3 degrees, said Johnny Burg, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Seattle.

“Our high is supposed to be in the low to mid 70s at this time and lows in the mid-50s,” he said.

Instead, the Seattle area is seeing highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s.

Because the Seattle area suffers few heat waves, many people do not have air conditioning.

The weather was also dry in the Seattle area in June, when only 0.23 inch of precipitation was recorded. That’s the fourth driest June on record.

Meanwhile, June temperatures were scorching in in Eastern Washington, with many record highs set.

The two highest readings in June were 113 degrees at Chief Joseph Dam and in the town of LaCrosse. The towns of Chelan, Ephrata, Odessa and Omak all recorded record highs of 110 degrees in June. Spokane reached a record 105 one day.

June in Las Vegas is officially the hottest ever.

The National Weather Service said the average June temperature recorded at McCarran International Airport was 91.9 degrees, breaking the previous record of 91.5 in 2013.

More than half of last month was at or above 105 degrees. A meteorologist said June 13 through June 30 brought 18 consecutive days of temperatures in that range.

There’s never been that many in a row or in total in a June month. In 1961, there was a streak of 12 days straight and in 1985, there were 17 total.

Salt Lake City also saw the hottest June on record following the warmest winter ever.

The National Weather Service said the average temperature last month was 77.5 degrees, breaking the previous record of 75.7 set in June 1988.

The average monthly low of 64.5 degrees also beat the 63.3 degrees in 1918.

Phoenix is known for its stifling summer heat, but June 2015 stood out.

It was the third hottest month the city has endured since the National Weather Service began keeping records back in 1895. The warmest June in Phoenix was in 2013 where temperatures averaged 94.8. The average temperature for this June was 94.0.

Time reported, More Than 2,300 People Have Now Died in India’s Heat Wave

Grist reported, Europe is so hot right now — and only going to get hotter

If you were in Paris or Madrid as June transitioned to July, you could be forgiven for thinking you had been transported to the equator, as temperatures across Western Europe soared over 100 degrees F, toppling records during major sporting events like the Tour de France.

The unusually early surge of summer heat was almost certainly affected by the overall warming of the planet, which has at least doubled the chances of such a heatwave, a group of scientists working with Climate Central, as part of its World Weather Attribution program, has concluded.

One of the clearest findings of climate science has been that heatwaves will become more common, more intense, and longer as a result of global warming. Heatwaves today are already happening in a world that is 1.6 degrees F warmer than at the beginning of the 20th century. Warming has also influenced the way that weather patterns, including those that usher in heatwaves, behave.

It’s not just the days that are getting hotter.

Summer Nights Are Heating Up Across U.S.

Global warming often conjures scenes of sweaty, scorching summer days, but daytime temperatures aren’t the only thing expected to rise in a warming world. Nights, too, are expected to get sultrier, with overnight lows not dropping as much as they used to.

When nighttime temperatures stay warm, they can cause health problems by not allowing bodies to cool down after hot days. This can be particularly dangerous for vulnerable populations like the elderly and for those without air conditioning. And according to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, rising nighttime lows can also tax power grids, as air conditioning demand stays high, and can negatively impact crops and farm animals.

Climate Central has a handy chart where you can plug in your state to see how nighttime temperatures have climbed since 1970.

July scorcher baking much of U.S. This recent news flash from CNN is happening now.

I’m only using this news flash in this post for one reason. How it begins and how it ends.

(CNN)It’s days like these that make you appreciate why Willis Haviland Carrier deserves a spot on Mount Rushmore.

With triple-digit heat indices across a large swath of the U.S., the man who’s credited with inventing modern air-conditioning holds a special place in the hearts and homes of the some 70 million Americans currently under a heat advisory…

…God bless you, Willis Carrier.

Pope Francis singled out air conditioning as an example of “harmful” consumption in his June 18 Environmental Encyclical,

People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity, but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption, which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more. A simple example is the increasing use and power of air conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever-greater demand. An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behavior, which at times appears self-destructive.

The Pope’s mention of air conditioning caused some controversy.

That’s assuming the outsider lives in a very cool climate, or doesn’t mind sweating. Anyone not so lucky probably thinks the inventor of air conditioning should be canonized. In France about 10 years ago, roughly 15,000 mostly elderly people died during a heat wave, in part because they lacked the aforementioned wasteful air conditioning.

If saving the planet, or our souls, depends on giving up air conditioning or cars, we are all indeed on the road to perdition. The pope at one point favorably cites the example of the desert monks. But while living a life of contemplation in the middle of nowhere suited St. Anthony of Egypt just fine — he is reputed to have lived to 105 — most of us aren’t spiritual superheroes, nor does monasticism as a general matter tell us anything useful about improving the lives of the poor.

But at least when everyone died at a much earlier age, we weren’t engaging in the ravages of the planet that so exercise Francis. This sinful assault on the Earth, by the way, largely consisted in taking otherwise completely useless glop from the ground and using it to power economic and technical advances that enriched average people beyond anyone’s imagining. This is obviously a secular miracle of the highest order, although the religiously inclined might think: Thank God for fossil fuels, and above all, for the human ingenuity that figured out what to do with them.

You might want to read the above story in it’s entirety. It explains why solving the climate change problem will be next to impossible. It’s also why I’m pessimistic about the future.

Climate Central has this to say about air conditioning,

As the world swelters, so will energy demand rise: the heat extremes generated by climate change are likely to raise the global demand for air conditioning by 72 percent. So people will generate more heat and release more carbon dioxide just to stay cool as the thermometer soars.

Right now, the U.S. uses more energy to keep cool than all the other countries in the world combined. “But this distinction might not remain true for long,” he says. “Several developing countries rank both among the most populous and hottest areas of the world. As personal incomes rise in those countries, their use of air conditioning will likely go up.

In all, 87 percent of U.S. households now have air conditioning and it takes 185 billion kilowatt hours of energy annually to keep American homes cool. But other countries have begun to turn down the thermostat. In 2010 alone, 50 million air conditioning units were sold in China. Air conditioning sales in India are growing at 20 percent a year.

Altogether, he reasoned, eight of the world’s nations have the potential to exceed U.S. air conditioning use: India would surpass the U.S. 14-fold if Indians adopted U.S. standards of cooling; China more than five times and the Indonesians three times.

But, Sivak warns, as affluence increases, and as global average temperatures rise, so will demand: “This trend will put additional strains not only on global energy resources but also on the environmental prospects of a warming planet.”

Just goes to show what kind of trouble the planet is in. The first thing we can do is turn the air conditioner down.

Cold offices bad for productivity and the environment

Heading to work in the summer can often mean dressing in layers, pairing sandals and shorts with sweaters and leggings.

But not only are overly air conditioned offices affecting our summer fashion choices, they’re part of a larger environmental issue.

Jose Etcheverry, an associate professor in the faculty of environmental studies at York University and co-chair of the Sustainable Energy Initiative, says cooling down offices in particular is a big problem.

“They use way more energy than they should,” he said.

“The energy comes from dirty sources and we have this vicious cycle that ends with people freezing in their desks in the middle of a hot summer. This is happening in many, many places around the world; it’s not just here in Canada.”

An in-depth New York Times report not only condemned the use of air conditioning as an environmental problem, it cited multiple studies that find workers are less productive in cooler temperatures.

Etcheverry said there are more examples today of eco-friendly buildings, but not enough, and reducing energy usage needs to be a priority.

“We need to use the resources in a more efficient and conservative manner and also ensure that the sources of the energy that we use come from renewable energy … so we’re not destroying the planet for something as simple as air conditioning.”

By the time we see that climate change is really bad, your ability to fix it is extremely limited… The carbon gets up there, but the heating effect is delayed. And then the effect of that heat on the species and ecosystem is delayed. That means that even when you turn virtuous, things are actually going to get worse for quite a while.

Bill Gates

 

It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.

Yogi Berra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shady Dell- It Tried to Kill Me!

The words Shady Dell brings up images in my mind of a seedy motel in Florida. There would even be an alligator farm nearby. I tried but couldn't find that seedy motel but there are a heck of a lot of alligator farms in Florida.

The Shady Dell in Arizona looked interesting if you're looking to experience the 1950's.

Nine lovely, fully restored vintage aluminum travel trailers await you at the Shady Dell in Bisbee, Arizona. Whether it is the 33 foot Royal Mansion built in 1951 and restored with leopard carpet, martini glasses, Diner-style breakfast booth and phonograph with a collection of 78rpm records, or the 1947 Tiki Bus Polynesian Palace, complete with hand-carved outrigger bar and your own Tiki God, the Shady Dell’s individual trailers will surely send you back to a time when freedom was just another word for jumping in your aluminum house on wheels, finding the Rat Pack on the radio and navigating the open road in search of your own slice of the American Dream.

It might be a place to stay if I ever get to Ramsey Canyon, a famous birding area.

Our Shady Dell in Mendocino County is also near a noted birding spot known as Usal Beach Campground.

After a winding 35-mile drive north of Fort Bragg on Northern California’s remote craggy coast, you reach a hidden road. Beyond it, shrouded in fog, beckons a magical redwood forest fit for the set of a fantasy movie. Sword ferns, moss and lichens blanket the forest in green. Delicate orchids and trillium accent the duff. The silence is so profound it’s as if the forest is holding its hands over your ears.

…the plan includes a trail to lead visitors through the best parts of Shady Dell. Louisa Morris, Director of Conservation and Trail Programs at Mendocino Land Trust, is working with the League to lead the project.

Trail construction will begin on June 15, 2015, thanks to support from members like you and the California State Coastal Conservancy, which has contributed $3.4 million toward the forest’s purchase and the planning and building of the path.

“Creating a trail that will take people to the spectacular features of this forest is really exciting,” Morris said. The trail will add 2.3 miles to the Lost Coast Trail, fabled for leading hikers north through neighboring Sinkyone Wilderness State Park and beyond.

Now Shady Dell doesn’t have official trails, and it’s not ready for the public. Morris’s goal is for the trail to lead visitors along the towering cliffs and through the stand of candelabra trees. Construction is tentatively scheduled for completion by summer 2016.

“The candelabra trees are unforgettable,” she said. “You’ve never seen redwood trees like these. My vision for the trail is that you’ll come around and suddenly, there they will be. It will be magical.”

Where you might ask is Shady Dell?

The Shady Dell Creek property is adjacent to the 7,800-acre Sinkyone Wilderness State Park to the north and the 49,500 acre Redwood Forest Foundation property to the east, which is conserved by a working forest easement. Also to the north is the Sinkyone Intertribal Wilderness Council land, which connects to the 60,000-acre King Range National Conservation Area, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. To the south are lands managed by Soper-Wheeler, a private timber company. Elevations across the property range from nine feet to 938feet and slopes from 0-80%.

The 957-acre property contains a variety of highly valuable habitats, including one mile of coastline with sandy beach and steep coastal bluffs, as well as riparian and forested habitat types.The coastal bluff scrub provides habitat for as many as five sensitive plant species, including Mendocino Coast Indian Paintbrush. Records from the California Natural Diversity Database indicate several occurrences of an old forest lichen named “Methuselah’s beard lichen” (Usnea Longissima) on the parcel, suggesting complex forest structure. The property also offers habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl and large fauna such as elk, deer, bear and bobcats. Early to mid-succession redwood and Douglas fir forest surrounds Shady Dell Creek, a tributary of Usal Creek, which supports habitat for Chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead trout.

What is the project?

The planned trail corridor will meander through redwood forest, coastal bluff scrub and coastal prairie habitats. As designed, the trail will largely be constructed along the footprint of an existing legacy logging road, which will minimize any impacts to the plant and animal populations present. The trail route will include a ten foot buffer to avoid impacting a rare moss population (Fissidens pauperculus – poor pocket moss) discovered during the botanical study.

The proposed project involves construction of a 2.3 mile pedestrian trail which will include three wooden boardwalks, retaining walls, interpretive and directional signage, stairs(231), benches, a 25-foot pedestrian bridge, a viewing platform, and a small parking area. Most of the trail will be constructed on a legacy logging road and require minor vegetation removal. The trail has been designed to include a ten foot buffer to avoid any disturbance to a rare moss (Fissidens pauperculus) found to occur in the vicinity.

The History of the site can be found here.

The acquisition, completed Oct. 27 (2011) and announced today, is part of a complex transaction designed to preserve 50,635 acres of redwood forest in a remote coastal area north of Fort Bragg where environmental activists and loggers once battled over the fate of California's stands of timber.

You might be asking why I'm writing about this? Short answer is that the Mendocino Land Trust(MLT) contracted with me to do breeding bird surveys along the trail path. The long answer is there are various state agencies involved in the project and permits were needed for parts of it. The granting of these permits required the MLT to do these breeding bird surveys. Because of my volunteer time with the Big River Bird Surveys I was asked if I would like to be involved. I said yes and on April 14, I received the word that the team of Nicolet Houtz, MLT's Trails and Stewardship Coordinator, and myself had been approved by the California Department of Fish & Game to conduct the surveys. It was a historical day. The first time I have ever been paid to bird.

Based on the title of this post, maybe I said yes too fast. First of all I learned that I would have to get up at 2AM to get up to Usal Beach at sunrise. On June 4th, Nicolet, Louisa Morris, MLT's Associate Director (and master trail planner) and myself traveled to the project site to survey the south section of the trail. I remember the quote well. “we will have to do a little bush-whacking”. Bush-whacking in this case means hiking an undeveloped trail on the side of a sloping hill through poison oak and California Blackberries. Your footing starts to slip and you reach out to grab something and you get a handful of thorns or something else. At one point where the non-existing trail overlooks the ocean some 900 feet below I found myself hanging on for dear life looking down on that ocean. I started calling Nicolet and Louisa mountain goats.

After getting over to the interior section of the trail they had me climbing over fallen Redwoods and other types of trees. At one point my foot started slipping into the Shady Dell drainage. I believe it was Nicolet who said, I had better hang onto the tree because she had dropped a water bottle down into that drainage never to be seen again.

When we finished that section of the trail they decided to head back the way we came. The problem with that decision was that it was all uphill. I started falling behind. Legs were hurting, heart was pounding and I was breathing heavily. Had to stop frequently. The conversation between Nicolet and Louisa when they had to wait for me probably went something like this. “It looks like it's going to take a longtime to get back to the trailhead at this rate. Maybe one of us should go on ahead and bring the truck down the road to the trail.” That's what happened. Louisa went on ahead while Nicolet made sure I didn't get lost. I know the conversation didn't mention calling 911 because there's no cellphone coverage at Usal. I had to recuperate for a week and I think I still have thorns in my hand.

I learned my lesson from that survey. Started to pump the exercycle at the Woods where I live. I was going to be ready for the next one.

They started the trail on the 15th of June. Who are they? There are two groups helping to build the trail. One is the California Conservation Corps known as the CCC. I believe their motto is, “hard work, low pay, miserable conditions…and more!” The problem with the CCC is that they can be called away to fight fires at anytime. By a strange stroke of geography the Fortuna CCC crew was doing the work instead of the Mendocino County crew out of Ukiah.

The other group is AmeriCorps.

AmeriCorps programs do more than move communities forward; they serve their members by creating jobs and providing pathways to opportunity for young people entering the workforce. AmeriCorps places thousands of young adults into intensive service positions where they learn valuable work skills, earn money for education, and develop an appreciation for citizenship.

I've heard that the hazards of trail building has taken it's toll on several of the workers. Two had to be taken out of the area to get steroid shots for poison oak. There has also been a Mountain Lion sighting that kept one of the cooks in a vehicle for part of a morning. I've also heard that campers in the Usal Campground play loud music and partake in lot's of booze and drugs during holiday weekends. It is also the only local place in the area where you can have lunch with a Roosevelt Elk. He's waiting for you to just stop by.

On July 2nd, Nicolet and I arrived to complete the bird survey on the north end of the trail. I had looked at a topo map of that section and decided that it should be easier on me but…I found out that the first section went straight up the side of a hill. It was going to be the place where most of the 231 stairs were going to be built. I did Ok on the hill because I was the leader and could control the pace. “STOP let's listen here” was my motto for the day. It was my first visit to the “Enchanted” Redwood Forest with it's Candelabra Trees. Being a big Lord of the Rings fan it reminded me of an elven or even an Ent forest.

At the top of the hill it mostly leveled off and the old logging road took us to the north side of the Shady Dell drainage. Handled the way back well with no one having to wait for me to catch up. That exercycle may have paid-off.
Nicolet did find something interesting at the top of the trail. There was a trail and game camera attached to a tree. We waved and smiled as we went by.
The plan is for the trail to be finished in August with finishing touches added in September but that may depend on the fire season. Word of advice. If you are out of shape and want to walk the entire trail start at the south end. More of your walk will be downhill. Have a vehicle waiting at the other end.
My work on the trail is done and I should be ending this post here but during my research I came upon some documentation of a contradictory nature concerning trails. Another title of this post could have been, Care to Join the Debate–Trails or no Trails. Those of you who read my blog know that I've used that theme for several of my posts.
It seems that all trails are not created equal.

More and more studies over the last 15 years have found that when we visit the great outdoors, we have much more of an effect than we realize. Even seemingly low-impact activities like hiking, cross-country skiing and bird-watching often affect wildlife, from bighorn sheep to wolves, birds, amphibians and tiny invertebrates, and in subtle ways.

Impacts from outdoor recreation and tourism are the fourth-leading reason that species are listed by the federal government as threatened or endangered, behind threats from nonnative species, urban growth and agriculture.

You'd be surprised by the ripples left by a day-hiker's ramble through the woods. In 2008 Sarah Reed, an associate conservation scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, and her colleagues found fivefold declines in detections of bobcats, coyotes and other midsize carnivores in protected areas in California that allowed quiet recreation activities like hiking, compared with protected areas that prohibited those activities.

“That is the kind of difference that you don't see often in ecological studies,” Dr. Reed said. Dogs, a frequent villain, weren't the issue for these carnivores; people were, according to her research.

Birds get ruffled, too. Researchers who studied trails around Boulder, Colo., found that populations of several species of songbirds, including pygmy nuthatches and Western meadowlarks, were lowest near trails. “There's something about the presence of humans and their pets when they go on hikes that causes a bit of a 'death zone' of 100 meters on either side of a trail,” said Prof. Rick Knight of Colorado State University.

You can read the article here. It would appear that trail builders are starting to take notice of these impacts.

Typically, the impacts to wildlife from trails aren’t as great as those from intensive development. More and more, however, we realize that— no matter how carefully we tread and no matter how much we desire to “leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures”— building trails can effect wildlife. By entering an area, we may change the ecology of a system that is complex and frequently hard to understand.

Sometimes the effects of building and using a trail are minor and fleeting. Other times they may be more substantial and long-lasting.

The state of Colorado has developed a handbook on the subject. Closer to home is this, Public Access and Wildlife Compatibility Report, developed by the San Francisco Conservation and Development Commission.

There is evidence that public access may have adverse effects on wildlife. Adverse effects on wildlife from human activities may be both direct (such as harassment or harvest) and indirect (such as habitat modification), and effects can be both immediate and long term. Immediate effects may include: nest abandonment (which may increase risk of predation of eggs or young), flushing, increased stress, which can lead to reduced feeding or site abandonment. Long-term effects may include decreased reproductive success, decreased population within species, or decreased number of total species. If improperly sited, public access may fragment habitats and serve as predator access routes to wildlife areas.

Potential adverse effects from public access can be addressed through the employment of siting, design and management strategies to avoid or minimize adverse effects, including such strategies as use restrictions, buffers, periodic closures or the prohibition of public access in specific areas. Siting, design and management strategies can be effective in avoiding or reducing adverse effects on wildlife.

As you read above, the Shady Dell Trail will “largely be constructed along the footprint of an existing legacy logging road, which will minimize any impacts to the plant and animal populations present.” The path to the Candelabra Trees is already known and being used by the public. A well planned access trail will prevent damage to the surrounding habitat. The crews have already remove an abandoned vehicle from the location and cleaned up a dump site but there will be a trail in parts where no trail existed before. In this day and age nothing is black and white. I do know that in working with the Mendocino Land Trust I have developed a new appreciation for the capabilities of their staff and their goals.

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.

John Muir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going a Long Way Without Gas

We are reaching a point where, if we are going to save the planet, we have to change some mental images in our heads. In many ways it's all about our EGO. Who can go the fastest, the furthest, and the highest always gets the most attention and it's generally dependent on using fossil fuels. And example in the birding world is the fossil fuel supported record breaking Big Year of Neil Hayward. Neil Hayward got much more attention then the record establishing fossil fuelless Big Year of Dorian Anderson. We have to decide who we are going to admire, respect and give our attention to. There are many people who are now pushing the limits without using climate changing fossil fuels. This post is about just a few ways that this being done.

Congratulations go out to pilots André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard and the Solar Impulse 2 team.

As noted in this thinkprogress.org article states.

Just before noon, Borschberg landed the Solar Impulse 2 plane in Hawaii after taking off from Japan nearly five days before. The plane was powered without a drop of jet fuel, using only electricity generated from the sun striking the photovoltaic panel across its wing.

Borschberg actually broke one world record before his flight ended, for taking the longest nonstop solo flight without refueling in aviation history. The previous record was a 76-hour flight, held by Steve Fossett for his nonstop flight around the world in 2005.

But when he landed, Borschberg also broke the record for the world’s longest successful solar-powered flight, both by time and by distance. The flight lasted 4 days, 21 hours and 50 minutes, and traveled 8,209 kilometers across the Pacific.

There has never been a solar flight as long as this in the history of aviation.

After today’s landing in Hawaii, Borshberg and Piccard will continue their attempt to fly around the world. The next leg will be from Honolulu to Phoenix, Arizona, and then the two will fly together across the Atlantic on a return journey to Abu Dhabi, where they first took off in May.

Formula E racing is the answer to Formula 1 and 2 racing.

Formula E is a new FIA single-seater championship and the world's first fully-electric racing series.

The inaugural season kick-started in Beijing in September 2014 and runs until June 2015, competing in 10 of the world's leading cities including Miami, Berlin and London. A total of 10 teams, each with two drivers, race on temporary city-centre circuits creating a unique and exciting series designed to appeal to a new generation of motorsport fans.

Formula E also aims to represent a vision for the future of the motor industry, serving as a framework for R&D around the electric vehicle, accelerating general interest in these cars and promoting clean energy and sustainability.

0-62mph in 3 seconds and a top speed currently at 140mph seems fast enough for me.

80 DAY RACE

In April, as many as 30 teams will set out from Paris on a race around the world, each aiming to cover 25,000 miles and make it back to the French capital within 80 days—which means covering about 320 miles a day. And they have to do it without burning any fossil fuels.

The “80 Day Race” obviously is inspired by Verne’s 1873 novel Around the World in 80 Days, in which protagonist Phileas Fogg bets he can circumnavigate the globe in record time, thanks to new technologies like the steam engine.

“New technology allowed [Fogg] to do something really radical,” says race co-founder Frank Manders. “We are currently now in exactly the same situation.” Electric and fuel cell vehicles are within striking range of internal combustion engine-powered vehicles when it comes to efficiency, range, and cost. An international competition to improve the technology is just what’s needed, he says.

Manders says he’s already in talks with 15 teams, and hopes that number will reach 30 by race time. “You have a group of people that really likes big challenges,” he says. “There is a general appeal to a lot of people to do something outrageous, something that really defines your life.”

One of those teams is Storm Eindhoven, a group of 29 students at Eindhoven University of Technology, basically the Netherlands’ MIT. They have no interest in pooling together their spare cash for a Chevy Spark EV. They’re building their own electric ride, and it’s a motorcycle. The world’s first all-electric touring motorcycle, in fact.

The bike will deliver 28.5 kWh of energy—more than the new Nissan Leaf’s 24 kWh—when fully loaded with batteries. The team hasn’t built the thing yet, but says simulations show its range will be a whopping 236 miles. That’s Tesla territory.

Speaking about electric motorcycles–you know things are changing when Harley-Davidson starts thinking about producing one.

Many years ago, in my youth, I briefly rode a motorcycle around. I soon realized that every gray haired person in a huge Cadillac was out to get me. If I were ever to take up riding a motorcycle again I don't think I have the characteristic attributes of a Harley rider. I might go for the Zero SR.

I will probably just keep pushing the pedals of my Gary Fisher bike for as long as I can. I have a birthday coming up. I wonder what advances they are making with electric walkers.

You know, we humans are programmed to think that big changes on the Earth happened a long time ago, or will happen a long time in the future. What we don't realize is that they actually can happen right now. Right here, right now, while we're alive, in our own hours and days and months and years.

James Balog

 

Time is Going to Stop Tonight

Photo: GETTY

Time will stop tonight.

Airlines, trading floors and technology companies are braced for chaos today as world timekeepers prepare to add a leap second to global clocks.

Immediately before midnight dials will read 11:59:60 as clocks hold their breath for a second to allow the Earth’s rotation to catch up with atomic time.

When the last leap second was added in 2012 Mozilla, Reddit, Foursquare, Yelp, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon all reported crashes and there were problems with the Linux operating system and programmes written in Java.

In Australia, more than 400 flights were grounded as the Qantas check-in system crashed.

Experts at Britain’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) who will officially add the second to UK time, warned that markets which are already jittery from Greece could suffer transaction delays if their software was not prepared.

“There are consequences of tinkering with time,” said Peter Whibberley, Senior Research Scientist in the Time and Frequency group at NPL, who is known to colleagues as ‘The Time Lord.’

So I don't want to give you the impression that you can sleep through the event. As I'm writing this here on the West Coast of the United States we have less then 4 hours since it's 8:13PM in Greenwich Mean Time.

If you're reading this post tomorrow we survived another stoppage of time. I going to grab a beer or two and hold my breath for a second.

 

THE END