One Last Post, Because It’s Important!

 

I hadn't intended to do this. Why one more post after I retired this blog? It's because the next few weeks are so very important. Can the governments of this planet come together and agree on a binding carbon reduction plan that will continue to make our world a livable one? This is an important question for future generations and the wildlife that depend on it.

Starting today through December 11th, the UN climate change conference:COP 21 will start in Paris. Their goal will be to limit a global temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels by reducing greenhouse carbon emissions. The official name for the conference is 21st Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. That a mouthful so that explains COP21

In the background is the fact that 2015 will be the hottest year ever recorded, the predictions that carbon levels will remain above 400 ppm permanently for the first time ever, and that we have blown through half the 2°C increase already. I wrote over two years ago that 80% of all fossil fuel must remain in the ground to prevent catastrophic warming of the planet. Legislation has finally been introduced in congress to try to do just that. An interesting read about the situation comes from a climate scientist. We don't hear enough from them.

I'm hoping to find many in-depth reports on the climate conference in the media but won't hold my breath. The media these days are concerned with the Middle East Wars and it's refugees (a climate change created problem), police killings, Black Friday Christmas sales, and terrorists attacks. The Paris terrorist attack has already affected the climate conference by preventing planned massive rallies in favor of a climate deal from assembling. But hundreds of thousands rallied around the world. Activists are having to come up with innovative ways of getting their points across.

REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Billboards begain showing up (ironically for me at bus stops) pointing out the hypocrisy of some of the conference's co-sponsors.

For the story on these billboards you can check it out here. For the story on Volkswagen, if you don't know it, you can find the story here.

So the stage is set. Our President Obama will be one of more than 190 heads of state and governments expected at the conference, taking place at Le Bourget outside Paris. More than 170 countries have submitted plans (INDC's) to curb carbon emissions. In conjunction with the event will be the World Climate Summit 2015.

It will be a big deal with celebrities and activists from around the world. Many of those activists will be from island nations asking for a plan that will stop their homes from being inundated by sea level rise. Hopefully Miami, Florida will send a representative.

What do terms like the Durban Platform, common but differentiated responsibility, Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), Loss and damage, and Ratchet mechanism mean? Check out how to understand the jargon coming out of the conference.

How do the numbers on the submitted plans of each country add up? Will they keep the planet under 2°C? The short answer is no! There is some controversy concerning the numbers but there's no difference of opinion that 2°C will be breached.

Impact of national climate pledges (aka INDCs) on world’s greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalents (CO2e).

This means that an awful lot of extra work on lowing carbon emissions needs to be done and there's some evidence that that extra work is coming. When you have Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerman joining forces there's billions of dollars involved. Local commitments will be important.

Thousands of cities, states, regions, provinces, businesses, and non-governmental organizations have already started to move aggressively on climate change. For cities, this means setting transportation, building, and power standards that substantially lower emissions. For companies, this can mean making sustainability a core business practice all the way down the supply chain, recognizing it as a sound policy that will not only help the planet but likely also bolster profits.

What will prevent us from keeping temperatures below 2°C? There are of course the skeptics who will have their own conference in Paris. There are the billions of dollars from the fossil fuel industry confusing the issues. I'm looking at you Exxon but you're are not alone.

And of course there's the Republicans in congress willing to take much of those billions to win elections.

At a hearing Wednesday, Senate Republicans said that any financial commitments made by the United States to help other countries curb carbon emissions would not be approved by Congress, effectively promising to undercut the Paris negotiations before they even begin.

Add in oil rich countries (You will have to wait 14 seconds to get to that last link) and we're up against some powerful forces. Is Saudi Arabia trying to sabotage the Paris climate talks?

What are people around the world thinking about climate change?

Majorities in all 40 nations polled say it is a serious problem, and a global median of 54% consider it a very serious problem. Moreover, a median of 78% support the idea of their country limiting greenhouse gas emissions as part of an international agreement in Paris.

However, according to most respondents, confronting climate change will entail more than just policy changes; it will also require significant changes in how people live. A global median of 67% say that in order to reduce the effects of climate change, people will have to make major changes in their lives.

How about the numbers in the United States?

Nearly three-quarters of Americans see global climate change as a “very serious” (45%) or “somewhat serious” (29%) threat, and two-thirds (66%) say people will have to make major changes in the way they live to reduce the effects of climate change, according to a Pew Research Center report released earlier this month.

People have received all sorts of advice over the past few decades about how to reduce their climate impact – from driving less to recycling more to insulating their homes. Actual changes in behavior, though, have been very much a mixed bag.

And American drivers are showing few signs of shifting away from fossil fuels. Fewer than 3% of the cars, SUVs, pickups and other “light-duty” vehicles sold through October of this year ran on anything other than gasoline or diesel – an even smaller market share for alternative-fueled vehicles than in 2013 or 2014, according to data from the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The EPA also suggests that people consider carpooling, mass transit, working from home or other alternatives to driving to and from work solo. But driving alone remains by far the most common commuting method: About three-quarters of Americans reported last year that that was their main commuting mode, a figure that’s changed little since 2000.

This attitude is what I've found to be the case. With few exceptions, in my little part of the planet, I find that people know about climate change but are unwilling to change their lifestyles. It's business as usual.

Just a fact–the planet will continue to warm even if we stopped carbon emissions today.

Many greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for long periods of time. As a result, even if emissions stopped increasing, atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations would continue to increase and remain elevated for hundreds of years. Moreover, if we stabilized concentrations and the composition of today's atmosphere remained steady (which would require a dramatic reduction in current greenhouse gas emissions), surface air temperatures would continue to warm. This is because the oceans, which store heat, take many decades to fully respond to higher greenhouse gas concentrations. The ocean's response to higher greenhouse gas concentrations and higher temperatures will continue to impact climate over the next several decades to hundreds of years.

Many scientists believe that 2°C is too high and we should stay well below that mark. Some good news coming from the climate conference is a call for limiting the rise to 1.5°C.

There has always been an odd tenor to discussions among climate scientists, policy wonks, and politicians, a passive-aggressive quality, and I think it can be traced to the fact that everyone involved has to dance around the obvious truth, at risk of losing their status and influence.

The obvious truth about global warming is this: barring miracles, humanity is in for some awful shit.

I didn't want to sugarcoat this post. Are we too late? It depends on who you talk to. We should know shortly if if the world has the resolve to take action. Will the future be like the little book titled, The Collapse of Western Civilization-A View From the Future? Will it be worse? Will it be better? Time will tell.

I will leave you will some graphs. I think they tell the story of our situation. If people looking at them can't take action I don't know what will.

NASA
NASA
NASA

The one graph that I've found that explains it all is this one. I wrote about it in a post that I feel was one of my darkest.

Haisam Hussein
Finally I've been meaning to use this video in a post on this blog but never did. It's a NASA time lapse video of a warming planet over time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Was There Something Special About This Last July?

A NOTE ON THIS POST. EVEN THOUGH THIS BLOG HAS ENDED I HAVE CONTINUED TO UPDATE EACH NEW HOTTEST MONTH AT THE END OF THIS POST. DON’T EXPECT A COOLING TREND.

I have been writing these kinds of posts for going on two years. I should just get a template and insert the name of the month and I would be done. But July just might be special. The numbers aren’t all in yet but there’s a good chance that this past July was the hottest month ever recorded since instrument temperature records were first started in the late 1800’s. UPDATE: It’s now officially the hottest month ever.

Global temperatures in July vs. 1951-1980 average. Via NASA.

According to preliminary data from NASA along with information from the Japan Meteorological Administration, July 2015 was the warmest month on record since instrument temperature records began in the late 1800s.

Research using other data, such as tree rings, ice cores and coral formations in the ocean, have shown that the Earth is now the warmest it has been since at least 4,000 years ago.

According to NASA’s data, which is subject to refinement in coming weeks and months as more is analyzed, July 2015’s average temperature nudged past July 2011 by 0.02 degrees Celsius, or .36 degrees Fahrenheit.

In order for 2015 not to be the warmest year on record, the rest of the year would have to turn sharply colder, on a global average. That is not likely to happen, considering both the influence of long-term manmade global warming and a shorter-term climate cycle known as El Niño.

The heat waves began in June before the Indian Monsoon kicked into gear, as high temperatures well into the triple digits Fahrenheit hit India and Pakistan, killing more than 2,000 people.

Madrid, for example, set monthly high temperature records in both June and July, with a record high temperature on July 6 of 103.8 degrees Fahrenheit, or 39.9 degrees Celsius.

Germany broke its all-time heat record on July 5, when the temperature reached 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit, or 40.3 degrees Celsius, in Kitzingen, according to Germany’s National Meteorological Service. The U.K. set an all-time July heat record when the temperature at London’s Heathrow Airport reached 98.1 degrees Fahrenheit, or 36.7 degrees Celsius, on July 1, according to the Met Office.

Maastricht in the Netherlands, set a new national July heat record in July, when the temperature reached 100.8 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38.2 degrees Celsius, according to the Weather Channel.

But if you think that’s hot try to avoid the Middle East.

Wherever you live or happen to travel to, never complain about the heat and humidity again.

In the city of Bandar Mahshahr (population of about 110,000 as of 2010), the air felt like a searing 165 degrees (74 Celsius) today(July 30) factoring in the humidity.

To achieve today’s astronomical heat index level of 165, Bandar Mahshahr’s actual air temperature registered 115 degrees (46 Celsius) with an astonishing dew point temperature of 90 (32 Celsius).

So let’s all of us just keep doing what we’re doing. There’s no problem here. Keep moving along. Nothing to worry about.

UPDATE–August was the hottest August on record.

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for August 2015 was 0.88°C (1.58°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F) and the highest August in the 136-year record. This value surpassed the previous record set in 2014 by 0.09°C (0.16°F). Most of the world’s surface was substantially warmer than average and, in some locations, record warm during August 2015, contributing to the monthly global record warmth. This was the sixth month in 2015 that has broken its monthly temperature record (February, March, May, June, July, and August).

UPDATE–September was hottest September on record.

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for September 2015 was the highest for September in the 136-year period of record, at 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th century average of 15.0°C (59.0°F), surpassing the previous record set last year in 2014 by 0.12°C (0.19°F). This marks the fifth consecutive month a monthly high temperature record has been set and is the highest departure from average for any month among all 1629 months in the record that began in January 1880. The September temperature is currently increasing at an average rate of 0.06°C (0.11°F) per decade.

UPDATE–Incredible October Warmth Guarantees Record Hot 2015

Month after month this year, above-average — and sometimes record — global temperatures have piled up, raising the odds that this year will be the hottest one humanity has ever experienced. And now October has blown those records out of the water.

According to newly released NASA data, October was not only the warmest October on record, but had the biggest temperature difference of any month in the 135 years of NASA’s archive. The month was more than a full degree Celsius (nearly 2°F) above the average for the 1951-1980 base period that NASA uses — an unprecedented feat in all those years of data.

Carbon dioxide levels are also currently drifting back above 400 parts per million, possibly never to dip back down again for the foreseeable future as a strong El Niño event lends the buildup of the greenhouse gas an extra push.

Q

UPDATE–No surprises, this November hottest on record.

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for November 2015 was the highest for November in the 136-year period of record, at 0.97°C (1.75°F) above the 20th century average of 12.9°C (55.2°F), breaking the previous record of 2013 by 0.15°C (0.27°F). This marks the seventh consecutive month that a monthly global temperature record has been broken. The temperature departure from average for November is also the second highest among all months in the 136-year period of record. The highest departure of 0.99°C (1.79°F) occurred last month.

UPDATE–The Earth is on track to end 2015 with an average 1 degree C warming.

It’s all but certain that 2015 will end up as the hottest year on record. And in setting that mark, the world is on track to finish the year 1 degree C above pre-industrial levels, a dubious milestone.

That would make 2015 the first year to crack the halfway mark of 2 degrees C warming, the benchmark that’s been targeted as “safe” climate change and what nations are working toward meeting ahead of climate talks in Paris in December. But Monday’s announcement by the U.K. Met Office hints at how difficult achieving that target will be.


One of the big questions in the climate change debate: Are humans any smarter than frogs in a pot? If you put a frog in a pot and slowly turn up the heat, it won’t jump out. Instead, it will enjoy the nice warm bath until it is cooked to death. We humans seem to be doing pretty much the same thing.

Jeff Goodell

 

The President Asked Me To Do This

It's Monday, August 3, 2015. Today the EPA will issue a final Clean Power Plan rule that will, for the first time, govern carbon emissions from power plants. Initial word on the street is that it's a better plan then previously expected. President Obama has asked me to share this video. I, of course, can not refuse.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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