Temperatures Going Up, and Up and Up

Climate temps-jan-oct-2015

“Earth’s surface temperature has surged high into uncharted territory, thanks to a record-strength El Niño event combined with the long-term rise in temperatures due to human-caused global warming: October 2015 was Earth’s warmest month on record by a huge margin, according to data released by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Wednesday. October 2015 was the second consecutive month with a new all-time warmest month record: September 2015 previously held the record for the largest positive departure of temperature from average of any month among all 1630 months in the historical record that began in January 1880″

From Jeff Masters at Wunderground...

Thought you’d like to know….

The Blob — Brewing up Neurotoxins

Headlines all over this week about the warming ocean and the postponement of west coast crab season. A toxin in algae –domoic acid– has grown so fast, and deep that traces are being found in crab, shellfish, sardines and anchovies — and the critters that eat them, including humans.

The poisonous algae, multiplying since April, is now estimated to be 40 miles wide, in some places reaching down as far as two football fields, marine biologists say. It is the biggest and most toxic bloom researchers have ever seen.  SF Chronicle

As the NY Times put it the Pacific Ocean has become a caldron.  A 4 to 6 degree rise in seawater temperatures in large areas, some have dubbed “the blob,’ is having effects not seen in human history.

“The Blob” has been associated, among other effects, with the unusually dry and warm weather in the western United States. Out in the ocean, the nutrient-poor warmer waters of the Blob — about four degrees Fahrenheit higher than average — are disrupting the food web of marine life. Some species of fish are showing up where they are not expected, including tropical sunfish off the Alaska coast, and an unusual number of emaciated sea lion pups and Guadalupe fur seals are being found stranded on California shores.

Climate The Blob

Of course the Atlantic ocean has problems as well — and much the same. The cod populations off the coast of Maine are in serious decline — because of rising ocean temperatures.

Cod populations off New England are collapsing because waters [temperatures] of the Gulf of Maine have been rising 99 percent faster than anywhere else in the world since 2004, researchers say. Earthweek and National Geographic.

We could also go to the Indian Ocean / Gulf of Aden, where Tropical Cyclone Chapala hit Yemen, dumping ten years worth of rain during its passage, and bringing a storm surge into the coastal city, Mukalla, laying waste to large parts of the waterfront. First time in recorded history such a storm has landed here.  Earthweek.


The Big Melt is Getting Bigger

Several big news dailies featured top-of-the-fold photographs of the most recent evidence of greater than expected ice melt in the arctic, which will lead inexorably to rising oceans and population dislocation of massive proportions.

One story is about new discoveries in the east antarctic.  A major glacier, characterized as the bath plug for much of the continental snow and ice is melting faster than previously known, from below.

Climate Change totten-infographic

Read all in Washington Post

The other story was at the opposite end of the globe, in Greenland where a team of scientists has been dropped in to take measurements of the size and flow of an enormous snow-river

in the  the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, one of the biggest and fastest-melting chunks of ice on Earth, [which] will drive up sea levels in the coming decades. The full melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could increase sea levels by about 20 feet.

Very good graphic display of what is happening and why knowing more about it is so important.

Go Green! California Strengthens The Promise

By the end of 2030, half of California’s electricity will come from the wind, the sun and other renewable sources under a new law that sets one of the country’s most ambitious clean-energy targets.

The law, signed Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown, accelerates California’s shift away from fossil fuels as its dominant source of energy and marks another milestone in the state’s fight against climate change.

climate renewable_energy

And despite the loud complaints, and successes of fossil fuel addicts, the changes have brought more jobs to the state.

“It’s not an accident that the clean-vehicle industry is headquartered in California,” said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra, a company that makes electric buses. Formerly based in South Carolina, the company this week celebrated the opening of its new headquarters — in Burlingame.

“California really invented the market, or forced the market, for hybrid technology and electric vehicles,” Popple said. “It’s attracted the kinds of companies that want to work on these technologies.”

SF Gate

Coral Reef Bleaching Continues Apace

Corals are turning chalk white and dying on reefs stretching from the Florida Keys to Palm Beach County, in what experts call one of the worst episodes in two decades of coral bleaching.

Climate Change fl-coral-bleaching

Under stress from unusually warm water, the corals are expelling the tiny bits of algae that give them their fiery streaks of red, orange or green color and that provide the coral with nutrition.

That’s today’s news from the SunSentinel similar to that of December, 2011


Here are comparison photos from America Samoa taken two months apart.


And in Hawaii, everybody’s favorite paradise?

Water temperatures around Hawaii are currently about 3 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal, Chris Brenchley, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Honolulu, told the Associated Press.

According to the AP, [coral] bleaching has been spotted in Kaneohe Bay and Waimanalo on Oahu and Olowalu on Maui. On the Big Island, bleaching is reported from Kawaihae to South Kona on the leeward side and Kapoho in the southeast.

Courtney Couch, a researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, told the AP that an entire mile and a half of reef on the eastern side of Lisianski Island was essentially dead.

Read more:

Water, Food, Land and Genocide

Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University and author, most recently of Bloodlands: Eastern Europe Between Hitler and Stalin contributed a very disturbing Op-Ed piece to the NY Times on Sunday.  This is just a part:

To expand Germany’s Lebensraum, Hitler aimed to seize Ukraine from the Soviet Union, starve 30 million Eastern Europeans and transfer the food to Germany. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the campaign had two major aims: the control of fertile Ukrainian soil and the destruction of Jews living there. It was this invasion that placed defenseless Jewish children at the mercy of the murderous Einsatzgruppen.

Climate change threatens to provoke a new ecological panic. So far, poor people in Africa and the Middle East have borne the brunt of the suffering.

The mass murder of at least 500,000 Rwandans in 1994 followed a decline in agricultural production for several years before. Hutus killed Tutsis not only out of ethnic hatred, but to take their land, as many genocidaires later admitted.

In Sudan, drought drove Arabs into the lands of African pastoralists in 2003. The Sudanese government sided with the Arabs and pursued a policy of eliminating the Zaghawa, Masalit and Fur peoples in Darfur and surrounding regions.

Climate change has also brought uncertainties about food supply back to the center of great power politics. China today, like Germany before the war, is an industrial power incapable of feeding its population from its own territory, and is thus dependent on unpredictable international markets.

Read all: The Next Genocide and plenty of comments from readers, as well.

For a NYRB article of his on the Holocaust and how it is often misapprehended see here. 

500 Year Low in Sierra Snowpack

Multi-Century Evaluation of Sierra Nevada Snowpack

Comparison photos of Sierra Nevada snowpack in 2010 and 2015

These images captured by NASA’s Aqua satellite show the difference between snow cover in 2010—the last year with average winter snowfall in the region—and 2015 across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Credit: NASA/MODIS

The 2015 record low snowpack level in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range is unprecedented in comparison to the past 500 years, according to a new paper published in Nature Climate Change(link is external). In their examination of paleoclimate tree-ring based records dating back to 1500, scientists from the University of Arizona, University of Arkansas, and NCEI’s Paleoclimatology Program expect that the current snowpack low has a strong likelihood of occurring only once every 500 years and only once every 1,000 years below 7,000 feet. Such an exceptional low level poses significant challenges to California, which receives over 30% of its yearly water supply from Sierra Nevada snowpack.


Fires Rage in California

It’s wet and cool around San Francisco, but in the north in the Shasta and Mendocino forests, down to Clear Lake (again!) in the Sierras, east of Stockon and Fresno it’s a burning hell.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. (AP) — An explosive wildfire burned largely unchecked Monday after incinerating hundreds of homes and devastating rural communities north of California’s Napa Valley, leaving at least one person dead and sending tens of thousands fleeing down flame-lined streets.

But it’s not the only one. A second massive blaze, less than 200 miles away, destroyed 135 homes as it spread through Amador and Calaveras counties in the Sierra Nevada. That fire was 30 percent contained.

Both fires have displaced 23,000 people…  MORE at AP


AND this word from Science Advances as reported by Andrew Revkin in the NY Times

New Study: Burn it All (Fossil Fuel), Lose it All (Antarctic Ice and Today’s Coasts)

A new study of Antarctic ice and warming finds humanity will have to write off today’s coastal cities centuries from now if it chooses to keep burning fossil fuels…

In interviews, scientists said that such long-term risks raise profound moral questions for people of today.

“What right do we have to do things that, even if they don’t affect us, are going to be someone else’s problem a thousand years from now?” asked Ian Joughin, an ice sheet expert at the University of Washington who was not involved in the new research. “Is it fair to do that so we can go on burning fuel as fast as we can?

Read all. Video chats included.

Water Recycling, Down the Drain

Carolyn Lochhead for the SF Chronicle does an admirable job of following California politics.  Here she takes a look at a crucial measure to help the drought ridden west, and why it is not coming on-line.

Water recycling may be one of the most promising sources of new water for California, but you’d never know it in Washington.

At half the cost of desalinating sea water, recycling municipal wastewater could create an estimated 1.1 million acre-feet of new water in California. That’s roughly twice as much water as $9 billion in new dam proposals would deliver to the state in a year.

The new reclaimed source would come from purifying water that currently is used once to take a shower or wash clothes or flush a toilet and then cleaned by a wastewater treatment plant and dumped in the ocean. Conservative Orange County is the technology’s poster child.

Yet amid one of the worst droughts in California’s modern history, the Obama administration this year asked Congress for $20 million for water recycling, to be spread across the entire 17-state West. That’s one-fifth the amount the administration targeted on livestock disaster assistance to California ranchers as part of its drought response, using funds under its discretion.

But tapping even that puddle of money is proving difficult because of a Republican ban on earmarks, which will allow no member of Congress to authorize spending on a new recycling project.

SF Chron Sept 7, 2015

Record Breaking Fire Season

Fire Statistics. Note Acres Burned

Fire Statistics. Note Acres Burned

We’ve posted often this summer about the fires sweeping the west, and especially Alaska. Note the number of acres burned so far this year — well above any year of the last ten.