University of Michigan Teach-In +50

President Carter Adds His No

In an open letter to President Obama, former president Jimmy Carter put it plainly”

“You stand on the brink of making a choice that will define your legacy on one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced — climate change,” reads the letter from Carter and nine other Nobel Peace Prize recipients. “As you deliberate the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, you are poised to make a decision that will signal either a dangerous commitment to the status quo, or bold leadership that will inspire millions counting on you to do the right thing for our shared climate.”

Talking Points Memo  and Bloomberg can help you out on the celebrity No list, if you like.

Global Temperature Variation (up, Up, UP)

From the Guardian, UK… play this clip.

2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record, new figures show. This animation displays a progression of changing global surface temperatures anomalies from 1880 to 2012. Higher than normal temperatures are shown in red and lower than normal temperatures are shown in blue. Global surface temperature in 2012 was +0.55°C (1F) warmer than the 1951-1980 base period average, despite much of the year being affected by a strong La Niña

Urging the President: The Climate is Changing, Are You?

Bill McKibben and his outstanding is doing all he can to shake awake the President.


The president must be pressed to do all he can — and more.  That’s why thousands of us will descend on Washington D.C. on President’s Day weekend, in what will be the largest environmental demonstration in years. But there’s another possibility we need to consider: that perhaps he’s simply not up to this task, and that we’re going to have to do it for him, as best we can.

If he won’t take on the fossil fuel industry, we will. That’s why on 192 campuses nationwide active divestment movements are now doing their best to highlight the fact that the fossil fuel industry threatens their futures.

If he won’t use our position as a superpower to drive international climate-change negotiations out of their rut, we’ll try.  That’s why young people from 190 nations are gathering in Istanbul in June in an effort to shame the U.N. into action. If he won’t listen to scientists — like the 20 top climatologists who told him that the Keystone pipeline was a mistake — then top scientists are increasingly clear that they’ll need to get arrested to make their point.

Climate Change and Humongous Storms

The question of whether climate change has to do with storms such as Sandy has been answered so often there isn’t much more to add.

Did Barry Bonds steroid use have to do with a particular over-the-wall-into-the-water blast?

Can’t be answered.  No cause and effect like the cue ball hitting the number 3 ball into the corner pocket.

Simply put, the juice — steroids or CO2– increase the probability of events related to the effect of the juice: muscle mass is related to harder hit balls, but not to hand-eye coordination.  Balls that might have been long outs, hit harder, might become home runs.  There is a relation — but a complex one.

More muscle mass resulting from steroid is more water content and sea water temperature rise from increasing concentrations of CO2.  A storm that may have been big 50 years ago, with more water and higher ocean temperatures, might become a super storm today.  There is a relation — but a complex one.

Not to mention, sea-level rise — which it is, whether you believe it or not.  It could be the great dragon below the earth’s crust is simply inflating his lungs causing the seas to rise, whatever.  When the seas rise, even old-fashioned big storms will push more water inland, and flood what we need and love.  Superstorms will push even more.

No reputable scientist will ever say, ever, Yup!  That’s a CO2 fired super storm.  All reputable scientists have said, the more CO2, the more water, the more ocean temperature rise, the more likely extreme weather events.

All reputable insurance companies will count up the dollars of ruined assets and, seeing those rise, will raise rates or refuse to insure.

All people with common sense will read their experience and understand Sandy, for example, did not pop out of no where and no thing, and will prepare for more, and worse in the years ahead.

The challenge is to get enough people to vote into decision making positions, those who understand the obvious and help draw down the enormous output of the prime-mover in all of this: Agro-Industrial CO2.

More at  Did Climate Change Supersize Hurricane Hurricane Sandy?

And, from Jeff Masters:

In a stunning spectacle of atmospheric violence, Superstorm Sandy roared ashore in New Jersey last night with sustained winds of 90 mph and a devastating storm surge that crippled coastal New Jersey and New York. Sandy’s record size allowed the historic storm to bring extreme weather to over 100 million Americans, from Chicago to Maine and from Michigan to Florida. Sandy’s barometric pressure at landfall was 946 mb, tying the Great Long Island Express Hurricane of 1938 as the most powerful storm ever to hit the Northeast U.S. north of Cape Hatteras, NC. New York City experienced its worst hurricane since its founding in 1624, as Sandy’s 9-foot storm surge rode in on top of a high tide to bring water levels to 13.88′ at The Battery, smashing the record 11.2′ water level recorded during the great hurricane of 1821. Damage from Superstorm Sandy will likely be in the tens of billions, making the storm one of the five most expensive disasters in U.S. history.

Windy America

Very cool representation of winds across the US, here.  Mezmerizing.

On the Dry Side of Wet

We in northern California felt the rain of the last week or so might have made up for the abnormally dry winter.  Some days it felt like the great dam in the sky was doing an enormous spillway release to save itself.  But wet as we got it’s still been a very dry year.  As of April 1 the snow pack in the northern Sierras is only at 55% and in the south, worse, at 39%.

…the state will probably deliver just half of the 4 million acre-feet of water requested by members of the state water project this year, after an unusually wet 2011 helped fill up the state’s reservoir storage. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons of water – enough water to supply one to two households for a year.

SF Gate:  and The Executive Summary at California Department of Water Resources

Russian Drought / Pakistan Floods / Atlantic Hurricanes

As the old song goes, the foot-bone is connected to the ankle-bone, the ankle-bone is connected to the shin-bone, the shin-bone is connected to the knee-bone…. This is true of just about everything in life. I’ve used it for computer trouble shooting for 30 some years. Parents use it in child rearing — How did that happen? [“It just did,” is seldom the right answer.] It’s a basic truism of human knowledge that there are no causeless events. Science is essentially a centuries long discovery of causes and effects, many of which we do not know, some of which we may never know. Religion, since the time of the neanderthal has a filler called God for any uncaused event.

Connection and cause are also true of weather systems. Problem is, our knowledge of the parts and connections is just about where knowledge of the human body was back when Leonardo smuggled corpses into his studio to study their composition. We don’t have near enough data, or interpretive schema to understand the weather-body as we now do the human one but it’s interesting when some large areas begin to be visible. For example:

Jeff Masters: In summer 2010, Pakistan got Russia’s rain

[The weather we experience is stirred in ways we don’t understand very well by the high-altitude jet streams that circle from west to east, in an undulating (snake like) pattern around the globe. The loops affect high and low pressure zones which in turn affect dryness and moisture in the air, within those zones. wbk]

Jeff Masters: The drought in Russia was caused by a jet stream pattern that took the jet stream far to the north of Russia, and kept low pressure systems that usually go over the country from dropping their rain.

At the same time, part of the jet stream veered south, he said.

The jet stream looped over Pakistan as the yearly monsoon rains were occurring. The monsoon consists of air currents rising over heated land, which lets moisture-laden air flow in from the oceans. Masters said it was hot in Pakistan this summer also. So the monsoon was unusually heavy.

Jeff Masters: When you have hot air like that, it tends to have more water vapor. So now we had an exceptionally strong flow of moist air off the oceans that had a much higher water content than usual. And that’s a recipe for heavy rainfall and heavy flooding.

Channel 4 news in England tells a similar story, though instead of a simple high and low loop as Masters describes, Tom Clark shows a bifurcating jet stream, sending the southern arm down over Pakistan and doing as Masters has it.

The stream has split in two. One arm has gone north, another south. The patch in the middle is Russia’s drought. A circulating pattern of air has been sitting over Russia for far longer than normal, causing the extreme temperatures and wildfires they’ve had there.

But what’s happening over Pakistan is even stranger. The southern arm of the Jet stream has looped down so far it has crossed over the Himalayas into north western Pakistan. Experts at the Met Office tell me this is very unusual.

And the result is that the fast moving jets stream winds high up has helped suck the warm, wet, monsoon air even faster and higher into the atmosphere – and that has caused rains like no-one can remember. It has turbo charged the monsoon if you like. They’re not sure that’s ever happened before.

And if those linkages aren’t interesting enough, how about this one? The same pattern looks like it delayed the on-set of the Atlantic hurricane season and explains why the expected high number of storms did not materialize in August.

Forecasters had predicted that warm sea-surface temperatures and the onset of the weather pattern known as La Niña would make a busy Atlantic hurricane season this year. In June, Phil Klotzbach and William Gray of Colorado State University predicted 18 tropical storms, with 10 reaching hurricane force and five becoming deadly major hurricanes. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast similar numbers.

La Niña arrived on schedule this year, and sea-surface temperatures were at record highs in July and August in the main area where Atlantic storms develop, says Klotzbach. Yet little happened there, and the Pacific was eerily quiet, with no July cyclones in its eastern half for the first time since 1966. Klotzbach attributes the calm conditions to dry air subsiding over the oceans, denying tropical storms the moisture that powers their growth.

Stalled wind

The dry air came from the blocking pattern that stalled the jet stream over Russia and Pakistan, says Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Air rose over Europe and Asia, then descended over the oceans depleted of the atmospheric moisture that fuels hurricanes.

“When the heatwave broke in Russia, that’s when hurricanes started forming,” says James Done of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. Four tropical storms formed in the tropical mid-Atlantic from 21 August to 1 September. The first two, Danielle and Earl, both became powerful major hurricanes, with Earl now affecting the US east coast.

New Scientist

The Devil's Holiday: Fire and Record Heat

Update below

End of July and southern California becomes the devil’s holiday resort. Fires near Tehachipi; fires near Palmdale

“The flames spread to backyard fences at the edge of Palmdale and plumes of smoke streamed across the city of 139,000. About 2,300 structures were threatened.

Fire officials expect low humidity and high temperatures again today with winds gusts of up to 50 mph in the foothills in the evening.

The blaze is reported to be 20 percent contained.

But the main concern is for major power lines carrying electricity to the region”  [CBS]

More Photos

But California is first in our concern only because it is closest.  Just north, Read more of this post