Excessive Heat To Spill Over Into August Jul 30, 2012

A Whiff of Weekend Relief. The strongest push of Canadian air since early June is forecast to arrive Saturday as winds swing around to the northwest, pulling slightly cooler, drier air south of the border. By Sunday the predicted heat index (above) will drop into the low 70s over the northern half of Minnesota, a welcome push of free A/C (one that will last about 48 hours, give or take).


$61 million. Amount of money the Koch brothers have allegedly given to groups denying climate science since 1997. Source: Greenpeace.


The evidence is solid and accumulating rapidly. Humanity is putting itself at increasing peril through human-induced climate change. As a global community, we will need to move rapidly and resolutely in the coming quarter-century from an economy based on fossil-fuels to one based on new, cutting-edge, low-carbon energy technologies.” – Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, in an article at madison.com; details below.


26 days above 90 F. at Indianapolis, a new record. Old record set in 1901.


Converted Skeptic. “Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified scientific issues that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Now, after organizing an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I’ve concluded that global warming is real, that the prior estimates of the rate were correct, and that cause is human….Our results show that the average temperature of the Earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, and one and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase is due to the human emission of greenhouse gases.”

– excerpt of a New York Times Op-Ed from former climate skeptic, Richard Muller, lead author of the “BEST” (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature) project. Details from The New York Times below.

Nagging Warm Bias. Although NOAA CPC’s 6-10 Day temperature outlook shows the worst of the heat shifting across the Plains into the Rockies, the extended outlook for August (upper right) shows a warm bias for much of the USA, the center of the heat forecast over the Middle Mississippi Valley and the Ohio Valley, complicating any recovery from the drought for much of the Corn Belt.


Withering Drought. Here’s a post from the Hastings, Nebraska office of the National Weather Service: “Where’s the water for swimming in the Platte?


Expanding Drought. Here’s an entry from the Pleasant Hills, Missouri office of the NWS, via Facebook: “Curious how the drought has progressed since early June? We’ve constructed a “drought progress map” focused on changes to the drought status from June 5th through the latest drought monitor update on July 24.”


5-Day Rainfall Outlook. The drought continues to worsen over the Central Plains; little rain expected through Saturday of this week. Monsoon rains soak Arizona, heavy showers and T-storms over the southeastern USA, the approach of slightly cooler air sparking some 1/2 to 2″ amounts over the Upper Midwest by late week. Map: NOAA HPC.
* a tornado at 11,900 feet above sea level? KOMOnews.com has the story of a Colorado hiker/photographer who captured the “second highest” tornado in U.S. history.
The Big (Unsettled) Apple. Thanks to @roland99 for sending in a photo of a turbulent sky over Manhattan.
Haboob Warming. Jodi Daly captured the photo (upper left) as a haboob, a massing cloud of dust and sand triggered by T-storm outflow boundaries swept across Tolleson, Arizona. Upper right: Loren Ziegler snapped a photo as the rolling cloud of sand pushed into metro Phoenix.

Beetle Invasion From Space. Milder winters have allowed bark beetles to survive, and decimate millions of acres of forestland out west; here’s an excerpt of a story from NASA’s Earth Observatory: “A single pine bark beetle is about the size of a grain of rice. But when the beetle population swells, it can have a major impact on forest health. And that’s exactly what has been happening across the Rocky Mountains over the past decade. In Colorado, severe beetle infestations showed up in lodgepole pine forests about 50 miles west of Boulder and Fort Collins around 2000. Over time, the affected area grew so that by 2011 the infestation had spread east to ponderosa pine forests that were much closer to the two cities. (A map showing the progression between 1998 and 2011 is available here). The beetle epidemic caused so many trees to die-off that the impacts are visible from space. The Thematic Mapper on Landsat 5 acquired these images of lodgepole pine forests near Grand Lake, Colorado on September 11, 2005, and September 28, 2011—before and after a severe infestation led to die-off of the tree canopy.”

Why The London Olympics Is The First Real-Time Games. You have to give NBC Universal credit for taking a calculated risk (making all the events available in real-time on the web – not saving everything for taped, after-the-fact broadcast in prime time hours later. Here’s an excerpt from mashable.com: “Whether London 2012 is the first “social” Games has sparked much debate in news media and on the social web. While compelling arguments have been made for both sides, social media’s role in the Olympics isn’t the most exciting conversation about this year’s competition. It’s about timing. The London 2012 Olympics are undoubtedly the first real-time Games. It differs from any other Olympic event in how fans and viewers can experience all competitions while they’re taking place. Though Friday’s Opening Ceremonies weren’t broadcast live in the United States, all 32 sporting events will be live streamed for the first time ever.”

UK Ensemble Olympic Showcase. The U.K. Met Office has created some special high-res models and graphics showing hour-by-hour rain chances for the Olympic Games in London. More details: “An animated probabilistic rainfall forecast. The forecast spans a 30 hour period and is divided into hourly steps. Each frame shows the chance that rain (greater than 0.2 mm/h) will fall sometime within a 1 hour time window displayed on the image. No information is provided on the duration of rainfall — it could last for the full hour or just a few minutes. The product giving the chance of more than 30 minutes of rain in an hour should be used to find out if it is likely to be mostly wet or not.”

Olympics Weather: Cool & Soggy. Click here to see the latest extended forecast for London from Ham Weather. Highs will be in the 60s through Friday with frequent showers, possible thunder. Typical weather for Great Britain.

Want To Save Money? Move Downtown. It may be counterintuitive, but there’s some sound logic to this. Here’s an excerpt from smartmoney.com: “If you want to save money these days, you have to move into the city. Crazy, but true. No wonder McKinsey & Co., the strategy consultant, recently produced a report predicting a new golden age for the American city. When I was growing up, the story of the American city was a sad one. The middle class had fled to the suburbs. Downtown was dying. But based on my math, people are going to be moving back. Why? Three reasons: Interest rates. Gas prices. And the Internet. Let me explain.”

17 Funniest Descriptions Of Interview Subjects The News Has Ever Broadcast. Yes, these Chyron fonts (character generators) actually showed up on the Boob Tube, during local TV newscasts. If you need a laugh click over to funnyordie.com.


Soggy Medals

My favorite Olympic events? Umbrella-Wrestling and Synchronized Puddle-Jumping. Track and Field participants may need fins & scuba gear as skies over London unload torrents of cool, ill-timed rain.

My earnest suggestion is still falling on deaf, IOC ears. “Every Olympic event should include one fan pulled from the stands, to provide some perspective.”

I’d watch that.

Shocking news: a nearly perpetual heat wave centered over Kansas City expands north again this week, although it won’t be as withering as previous hot spells. T-storms flare up late Wednesday, and linger into early Saturday, when slightly cooler air pushes south.

Yes 80-85 F now qualifies as “relief”.

The fairly reliable ECMWF model shows another run of mid-90s next week; NOAA CPC predicts a warmer-than-average August.

We’ve always had heat waves, drought & downpours. But there’s a growing body of evidence that these extremes are becoming more extreme; coming more frequently.

Today’s climate stories (below) include a new study from former climate skeptic, Richard Muller. The great irony: Koch-money funded the research, which essentially confirms what climate scientists predicted 30 years ago.

It’s a Homer Simpson moment.


Climate Change Study Forces Skeptical Scientists To Change Minds. More on the Muller “conversion” and the latest “BEST” results from The Guardian; here’s an excerpt: “The Earth’s land has warmed by 1.5C over the past 250 years and “humans are almost entirely the cause”, according to a scientific study set up to address climate change sceptics’ concerns about whether human-induced global warming is occurring. Prof Richard Muller, a physicist and climate change sceptic who founded the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (Best) project, said he was surprised by the findings. “We were not expecting this, but as scientists, it is our duty to let the evidence change our minds.” He added that he now considers himself a “converted sceptic” and his views had undergone a “total turnaround” in a short space of time.”

Photo credit above: “Prof Richard Muller considers himself a converted sceptic following the study’s surprise results.” Photograph: Dan Tuffs for the Guardian.

Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Results. This new reanalysis of surface stations incorporated 1.6 billion temperature records from 16 preexisting data archives. More details from the Berkeley site: “Berkeley Earth has just released analysis of land-surface temperature records going back 250 years, about 100 years further than previous studies. The analysis shows that the rise in average world land temperature globe is approximately 1.5 degrees C in the past 250 years, and about 0.9 degrees in the past 50 years.”

Global Temperature Trends. North Ameria is frying this summer, but the U.K. is experiencing one of the coolest summers in decades. Keeping a global perspective is challenging, but essential. Here is more information from Columbia University: “(Above) are maps of the mean surface temperature anomaly for the past month, the past three months, and the past 12 months. Regional weather patterns, apparent on the monthly time scale, tend to disappear in averages over longer time scales. In the chart in the lower right we show the 12-month running means of the global land-ocean temperature anomalies.”

No, Warming “Didnt’ Stop In 1998”. Map above from Columbia University: “The figure (above) shows 60-month (5-year) and 132-month (11-year to minimize the effect of the solar cycle) running means of the surface temperature deviation from the 1951-1980 mean. This graph makes clear that global warming is continuing — it did not stop in 1998. The year 1998 was remarkably warm relative to the underlying trend line (see updated Figure 12 of “Storms”), in association with the El Nino” of the century (updated Figure 13). But the underlying global temperature has continued to rise, despite the fact that solar irradiance for the past few years has been stuck in the deepest solar minimum in the period of satellite data (updated Figure 11).”

“Our Summer Of Climate Truth”. Here’s an excerpt of a post from Dr. Jeffrey D. Sachs, economics professor and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, at madison.com: “…The past couple of years have brought a shocking number of extreme events all over the planet. In many cases, short-run natural factors rather than human activity played a role. During 2011, for example, La Niña conditions prevailed in the Pacific Ocean. This means that especially warm water was concentrated near Southeast Asia while colder water was concentrated near Peru. This temporary condition caused many short-term changes in rainfall and temperature patterns, leading, for example, to heavy floods in Thailand. Yet, even after carefully controlling for such natural year-to-year shifts, scientists are also finding that several recent disasters likely reflect human-caused climate change as well. For example, human-caused warming of the Indian Ocean probably played a role in the 2011 severe drought in the Horn of Africa. The current U.S. mega-drought probably reflects a mix of natural causes, including La Niña, and a massive heat wave intensified by human-caused climate change.”

New Global Temperature Reanalysis Confirms Warming; Blames CO2. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from a (former) climate skeptic, Richard Muller at The New York TimesRichard Muller, the head of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, will publish an op/ed next week in the New York Times summarizing his group’s findings with regard to global temperature trends. From a copy of the op/ed, Converted Skeptic, circulating on the web: CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified scientific issues that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Now, after organizing an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I’ve concluded that global warming is real, that the prior estimates of the rate were correct, and that cause is human.”
Bombshell: Koch-Funded Study Finds “Global Warming Is Real”, “On The High End” And “Essentially All” Due To Carbon Pollution. An excerpt from Joe Romm at Think Progress: “…Yes, yes, I know, the finding itself is “dog bites man.” What makes this “man bites dog” is that Muller has been a skeptic of climate science, and the single biggest funder of this study is the “Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation ($150,000).” The Kochs are the leading funder of climate disinformation in the world!

It gets better:

Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.

These findings are stronger than those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group that defines the scientific and diplomatic consensus on global warming.”

Graphic credit above: “The decadal land-surface average temperature using a 10-year moving average of surface temperatures over land. Anomalies are relative to the Jan 1950 – December 1979 mean. The grey band indicates 95% statistical and spatial uncertainty interval.” A Koch-funded reanalysis of 1.6 billion temperature reports finds that “essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.”




Climate Change Could Erode Ozone Layer Over U.S. Here’s an excerpt from a blog at smithsonian.com: “For the past 25 years, it seemed that we’d pretty much solved the ozone problem. In the 1970s and 80s, people around the world grew increasingly alarmed as research revealed that chemicals we were producing—such as CFCs, used in refrigeration— had started destroying the crucial ozone layer, high up in the atmopshere, that protects us from the sun’s harmful UV radiation. In response, world governments came together to sign the Montreal Protocol in 1987, which phased out the production of ozone-depleting chemicals. The concentration of these chemicals in the atmosphere leveled off within a decade. Yesterday, though, Harvard scientists hit us with some bad news: It looks as if climate change could actually cause the depletion of the ozone layer to resume on a wide scale, with grim implications for the United States.”

Image credit above: “Climate change could produce an ozone hole over the U.S. similar to the one observed over Antarctica, above, in 2006.” Image via NASA.

Following The Isotopes Leads Scientists To Useful Climate Change Data. Here’s a snippet of an article at The Prairie Star: “Rebecca Phillips is working this summer in the blooming alfalfa fields at the ARS-Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory south of Mandan, N.D., measuring trace gases that have been associated with climate change. The ARS plant physiologist has been conducting this work for the past few years and has collected useful data for producers. Phillips said her goal in studying these gases is to give producers information on how they can be productive and profitable using the best conservation management practices that reduce gas emissions.”

Photo credit above: “Rebecca Phillips, plant pathologist at ARS-Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory, works out in the fields in Australia studying carbon fluxes with other scientists.”


Readers Jump Into The Climate Fray. Here’s an excerpt from an interesting article at The New York Times (focused on reader response to a series of recent NYT article on climate change posing new risks to aging infrastructure and how extreme storms and higher water vapor levels may be impacting Earth’s ozone layer): “…Other readers e-mailed directly with their thoughts. Rick Eisenstat, a former Navy officer, weighed in on the question of whether climate change presents a real and present danger to the United States and the world. “In fact,” Mr. Eisenstat wrote, “the military has already answered that it is. This determination is often absent from the national debate but the impact it can have on it — and the country at large — is significant.” He said the American military was leading the way in energy conservation efforts to save money and reduce threats to supply lines. These efforts are having a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions, said Mr. Eisenstat, now a law student at Tulane University.”



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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune startribune.com/weather And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather


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