Expanding Drought. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows a large and growing area of extreme drought across the Dakotas and far northwest Iowa, with pockets of drought for the Red River Valley and far western counties in Minnesota. Recent rains restored soil moisture from Mankato and the Twin Cities to Duluth, at least for the short term.
Blocking Pattern = Lingering April Warmth. With a massive ridge of high pressure stalled over the Great Plains and Rockies I don’t see much chance for a volley of cold fronts anytime soon. Part of me wonders if Mother Nature is tipping her hand for the summer: hotter and drier for the central USA? We will see, but we are probably due for a stinking hot summer.
CoreLogic: Southeast Tornado Outbreak Affected Nearly 10,000 Homes. Insurance Journal has details: “Nearly 10,000 homes were impacted by tornado damage that occurred across Alabama and Georgia last week, according to data from catastrophe modeling firm CoreLogic. The March 25 deadly tornado outbreak occurred thanks to prime weather conditions that produced what is known as “supercell” storms that produce the most tornadoes, CoreLogic said. Southern states were rocked by the destructive tornadoes that claimed the lives of 5 people. The severe weather outbreak was especially dangerous due to long-tracked tornadoes – one of which extended for 100+ miles alone, according to CoreLogic’s Tornado Verification Technology...”
Fancier Homes Mean Higher Insurance Premiums Under New Flood System. Bloomberg Green has the details: “The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Friday unveiled the details of an overhaul to its beleaguered National Flood Insurance Program, the initiative’s first major update in 50 years. Most homeowners in the program will have lower or stable premiums, but roughly 11% of homes—largely the highest value ones—will see increases in premiums of at least $10 a month. Those could continue to rise until they reach a cap of $12,000 a year. The NFIP serves roughly 5 million homes, most of which are in high-risk flood areas. Premiums have risen steadily over the years, and yet the program is more than $20 billion in debt, in part because of climate change-related phenomena such as sea-level rise and increased storms and heavy precipitation events, which lead to more intense and more widespread flooding…”
How Cargo Ships Could Detect Tsunamis. I didn’t see this coming. Check out a fascinating post at WIRED.com (paywall): “…Hossen, Sheehan, and their colleagues modeled how well a cargo-ship-based sensing array might actually work. Hossen is the first author on their paper published in Earth and Space Science in February, evaluating ship-borne GPS tsunami forecasting in the Cascadia subduction zone via a computer simulation. Given the region’s steady vessel traffic, the researchers used actual ship coordinates supplied by the global data and analytics provider Spire. While marine traffic typically follows similar routes, the number and spatial distribution of ships varies, which the simulation took into account. The study also simulated tsunami-produced variations in ship elevation and velocity. The team used data assimilation, a technique that combines observations with a numerical model to improve predictions, in order to forecast the virtual tsunamis...”
JetStream: An Online School for Weather. This is pretty cool, if you (or maybe a child or grandchild) wants to learn more about meteorology online, consider this series of weather explainer posts at Weather.gov: “Welcome to JetStream, the National Weather Service Online Weather School. This site is designed to help educators, emergency managers, or anyone interested in learning about weather and weather safety. The information contained in JetStream is arranged by subject; beginning with global and large-scale weather patterns followed by lessons on air masses, wind patterns, cloud formations, thunderstorms, lightning, hail, damaging winds, tornados, tropical storms, cyclones and flooding. Interspersed in JetStream are “Learning Lessons” which can be used to enhance the educational experience. You are free to use the materials in any manner you wish. We welcome your feedback on this project. Your input will greatly assist others in teaching the “hows” and “whys” of weather. Not sure where to begin? Click to see all topics in JetStream in the Topic Matrix.”
Air Pollution Puts Children at Higher Risk of Disease in Adulthood. ScienceDaily has a summary of a troubling new study: “Children exposed to air pollution, such as wildfire smoke and car exhaust, for as little as one day may be doomed to higher rates of heart disease and other ailments in adulthood, according to a new Stanford-led study. The analysis, published in Nature Scientific Reports, is the first of its kind to investigate air pollution’s effects at the single cell level and to simultaneously focus on both the cardiovascular and immune systems in children. It confirms previous research that bad air can alter gene regulation in a way that may impact long-term health — a finding that could change the way medical experts and parents think about the air children breathe, and inform clinical interventions for those exposed to chronic elevated air pollution…”
Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Aims to Turbocharge U.S. Shift from Fossil Fuels. The Washington Post (paywall) has an analysis: “President Biden’s infrastructure plan would turbocharge the country’s transition from fossil fuels, using the muscle and vast resources of the federal government to intervene in electricity markets, speed the growth of solar and wind energy, and foster technological breakthroughs in clean power. The linchpin of Biden’s plan, which he detailed in a speech Wednesday in Pittsburgh, is the creation of a national standard requiring utilities to use a specific amount of solar, wind and other renewable energy to power American homes, businesses and factories. The amount would increase over time, cutting the nation’s use of coal, gas and oil over the next 15 years. While 30 states and the District of Columbia already direct their utilities to include some portion of renewable energy, Biden’s strategy would amount to the most sweeping federal intervention in the electricity sector in generations...”
How Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Will Address Climate Change. TIME.com has more details: “…None of that is to say the proposal is light on dedicated climate proposals. The Administration calls for $174 billion to help advance domestic production of electric vehicles and $35 billion for climate-related research and development, for example. Those big ticket items sit alongside smaller but significant proposals like the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps that would create jobs by employing people to conserve public lands and the start of a new program to hire people to plug oil and gas wells across the country. The value alone of these climate-focused programs—easily totaling in the hundreds of billions of dollars—would make the American Jobs Plan the biggest ever single U.S. investment in tackling climate change...”
How Biden Plans to Tackle the Climate Crisis in His $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan. Vox.com provides additional perspective on how the president’s infrastructure plan will address climate change: “…It will also build off of the American Rescue Plan to revive the nation’s struggling public transit, which will help keep polluting cars off the roads. $85 billion will be put toward repairing existing buses, light rail, and other transit lines. Not all of the plan’s transportation investments will be explicitly green, though; a chunk of the funds will also go to maintaining roads and highways. For the second-largest contributor to the US carbon footprint — the power sector — the plan proposes establishing a Clean Electricity Standard. The policy would mandate utilities across the country to increase their share of clean electricity. Along with the expanded 10-year tax credits for renewable energy in the plan, it would be a key tool to get the nation to Biden’s goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035…”
Global Forest Losses Accelerated Despite the Pandemic, Threatening World’s Climate Goals. The Washington Post (paywall) reports: “The loss of forests critical to protecting wildlife and slowing climate change accelerated during 2020, despite a worldwide pandemic that otherwise led to a dramatic drop in greenhouse gas emissions, a global survey released Wednesday has found. The Earth saw nearly 100,000 square miles of lost tree cover last year — an area roughly the size of Colorado — according to the satellite-based survey by Global Forest Watch. The change represents nearly 7 percent more trees lost than in 2019...”
Warming Baseball Season. Climate Central takes a look at the ongoing warming trend during the MLB season: “Opening day is tomorrow, and the baseball season is warming up due to climate change. Since 1970, Major League Baseball (MLB) cities have warmed an average of 2.1°F during the baseball season. The greatest warming occurred in Toronto for the Blue Jays (warmed by 5.2°F) while the least occurred in Oakland, California for the Athletics (cooled by only 0.1°F). As temperatures increase, so does the frequency of heavy rain events and bouts of extreme heat—weather conditions which can postpone games and impact the health of players and fans. And for baseball stats enthusiasts, it can also affect the probability of home runs. MLB has taken strides to become more green and sustainable in recent years, including LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified stadiums, LED field lights, solar energy use, and more…”
“Immediate and Drastic”. The Climate Crisis is Seriously Spooking Economists. Never a good thing to spook economists worried about a house of cards climate scenario. CNN.com has the story: “Worsening inequality, trillions of dollars in economic damage and depressed economic growth. Those are the outcomes that economists fear we will face unless the world aggressively confronts the climate crisis. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of economists agree “immediate and drastic” action is warranted to curb emissions, according to a survey released Tuesday from the Institute for Policy Integrity at the NYU School of Law. That’s up sharply from 50% in 2015. Since that time, the United States has been hit by an onslaught of extreme and deadly weather events including Hurricane Maria, massive wildfires in California and this year’s deep freeze in Texas…”
Survey of Economists Shows Climate Crisis Demands ‘Immediate and Drastic Action’ to Avoid $30 Trillion In Annual Climate Costs: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “A new survey released yesterday by the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law found two-thirds of the over 700 economists polled recognize that climate action is cheaper than inaction. Of those surveyed, 74% agree “immediate and drastic action is necessary” to address the climate crisis, and 70% think climate change will worsen economic inequality. The economists embraced net-zero goals, and estimated that failure to act on the climate crisis will cost $1.7 trillion, annually by the mid-2020s, rising to about $30 trillion a year by 2075. “There is a clear consensus among these experts that the status quo seems far more costly than a major energy transition,” which is why “economists overwhelmingly support rapid emissions reductions,” Derek Sylvan of NYU School of Law, who led the survey, said.” (CNN, The Independent, Thomson Reuters Foundation, E&E $, Reuters, Axios)
Vatican Calls for Action to Assist People Displaced by Climate Change. The Catholic Sun reports: “Whether people admit it or not, climate change and environmental destruction are forcing millions from their homes, and Catholics have a responsibility to assist them, Pope Francis wrote in the preface to a new document. “When people are driven out because their local environment has become uninhabitable, it might look like a process of nature, something inevitable,” the pope wrote. “Yet the deteriorating climate is very often the result of poor choices and destructive activity, of selfishness and neglect, that set humankind at odds with creation, our common home.” The papal preface appears in “Pastoral Orientations on Climate Displaced People,” a document released March 30 by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development…”
Want to Create 5 Million Green Jobs? Invest in Public Transportation in Cities. A post at Thomson Reuters Foundation caught my eye: “In a world reeling from the impact of COVID-19, investing in public transport could create 4.6 million jobs by 2030 and cut transport emissions, mayors in some 100 cities said on Tuesday. A “green and just recovery” with investment in buses and trains, particularly electric vehicles, would also reduce car use and air pollution, and protect vulnerable residents, said C40, a network of cities pushing for climate action. “The road to recovery is paved with investments in our infrastructure,” said C40’s Cities Climate Leadership Group chairman and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, in a statement. “Public transportation is more than just a way to move people around. It’s a vehicle for opportunity, equity, and a better quality of life...”