Showery Today – Brighter Weekend Skies
I don’t have the time or energy, but made-to- order-weather would be a worthy tech start-up. Schedule showers for farmers on weekdays (preferably at night). Weekend sun for boaters, golfers and bikers. Everyone happy, living in meteorological harmony.
Weather modification is more hype than substance; on rare occasions we can nudge Mother Nature by seeding clouds to increase snowfall or rainfall slightly. Changing weather on a large scale is still science fiction, at least in the near term. And any weather-tinkering business would include one mad scientist and 50 lawyers, because you’d be getting sued every other day. No thanks.
Pockets of Moderate Drought. Unusually dry weather persists over far southern and western counties, but the dries weather is Red River Valley and far northern Minnesota, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Very High Risk of Wildfires Across Red River Valley. The Minnesota DNR has details: “Continued drought conditions mean very high fire danger persists in northwestern Minnesota. Spring outdoor recreation activity is increasing, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges outdoor enthusiasts to limit the use of campfires and use caution with off-road vehicles that could spark and start a wildfire. Northern Minnesota counties remain under open burning restrictions. Minnesota’s wildland fire management agencies report nearly 900 wildland fires have burned more than 32,000 acres since the beginning of March. The majority of the wildfire activity has occurred in the driest area of the state, the northwest corner. This includes the Oxcart Fire, which burned approximately 13,000 acres on and around portions of the Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge near Mentor, making it Minnesota’s largest wildfire in nearly a decade, and the Goods Fire, which scorched more than 5,500 acres near Red Lake last week…”
Summer Sizzle Southern U.S. – Cool Fronts Bring Frequent Storms Northern Tier. GFS guidance out 2 weeks suggests summer heat will be in full swing over the southern half of the USA as we end the month of May, but Canadian (leakage) will take the edge off any heat over the northern tier states with more frequent showers and T-storms.
2021 Minnesota Fishing Opener Historical Facts. The Minnesota DNR always does a great job putting weather into context. No ice or flurries for the Opener this year: “Opening day temperatures have started as low as 24 degrees at International Falls (1996,2004), and sub-freezing conditions have even affected Minneapolis (31 degrees in 1979). On the warm side, St. Cloud saw 92 degrees in 1987, Minneapolis reported 91 in 1987, and International Falls reached 88 in 1977. Precipitation is not uncommon, but certainly is not the rule either. Three-quarters of past opening days have been free of measurable precipitation, and two-thirds of the fishing openers have been free of any precipitation, measurable or not. On those days with measurable rain, the amounts averaged close to a half-inch in the south and a quarter inch in the north. Rainfall has exceeded one inch once in St. Cloud, and twice in the Twin Cities, with a maximum of 1.64” in 1965. Snow, usually just a trace, was officially recorded in 1963, 1993, 2000, 2009 and 2013 at International Falls, and in 1968 at St. Cloud…”
Penn State Prediction: Fewer Atlantic Hurricanes in 2021 Than 2020. Here’s an excerpt of a press release from Penn State’s Earth System Science Center: “ESSC scientists Dr. Michael E. Mann and Daniel J. Brouillette and alumnus Dr. Michael Kozar have released their seasonal prediction for the 2021 North Atlantic hurricane season, which officially starts on 1 June and runs through 30 November. The prediction is for 11.9 +/- 3.4 total named tropical cyclones, which corresponds to a range between 9 and 15 storms, with a best estimate of 12 named storms. This prediction was made using the statistical model of Kozar et al. (2012, see PDF here). This statistical model builds upon the past work of Sabbatelli and Mann (2007, see PDF here) by considering a larger number of climate predictors and including corrections for the historical under-count of events…”
Tornado Alley Not Living Up To Its Name This Year. Details via CNN and KAKE.com: “Tornado activity in the region of the US known as Tornado Alley was at near-record low levels in April. Not even a dozen tornadoes were reported in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska during the month of April. This accounts for just 16% of all April, preliminary tornadoes in the US, instead of the average of 28%. Only the year 2018 had lower tornado activity since 2000, according to the Storm Prediction Center database…”
Is Tornado Alley Shifting? THV11.com takes a look at potential shifts, a fluke or a trend? Here’s an excerpt: “…Our understanding of tornadoes has grown through the decades, but the public’s perception and the influence of pop culture had always put the focus on the plains as “Tornado Central.” Research has shown that the tornado frequency is increasing in states such as Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi, but decreasing in Texas, which has always been the top state with the most tornadoes. The Significant Tornado Parameter or STP is an index used by Meteorologists that measures atmospheric ingredients that are known to produce tornadoes. Analyzing past STP data and seeing increased tornado reports is what has indicted more of an eastward shift…”
Predicting Tornadoes and Flying Cows: The Science Behind “Twister”. I stumbled upon an illuminating post at syfy.com – here’s an excerpt: “…Storm chasing certainly predates Twister, but it saw an uptick after the film’s release. Professor John Knox of the University of Georgia looked at interest in meteorology over the years and identified what he calls the Twister Effect, an uptick in interest after the release of the movie. The number of meteorological majors increased by about 10 percent in the late ‘90s. It makes sense. I’ve definitely harbored a quiet desire to see a tornado in person, ever since I watched the flick as a kid. Any time I’ve had occasion to travel through tornado alley, I’ve silently hoped to see one in the distance. To date, no luck. Some people took that pursuit to heart, taking up storm chasing either for the adrenaline of it or for science…”
Climate Change is Making Big Problems Bigger. A warmer, more volatile climate is amplifying extremes that have been present since the dawn of time, according to analysis at The New York Times (paywall). Here’s an excerpt: “Wildfires are bigger, and starting earlier in the year. Heat waves are more frequent. Seas are warmer, and flooding is more common. The air is getting hotter. Even ragweed pollen season is beginning sooner. Climate change is already happening around the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday. And in many cases, that change is speeding up. The freshly compiled data, the federal government’s most comprehensive and up-to-date information yet, shows that a warming world is making life harder for Americans, in ways that threaten their health and safety, homes and communities. And it comes as the Biden administration is trying to propel aggressive action at home and abroad to cut the pollution that is raising global temperatures…”
U.S. Has Entered Unprecedented Climate Territory, EPA Warns. The Washington Post (paywall) explains; here’s a clip: “…EPA staffers said the data detail how the nation has entered unprecedented territory, in which climate effects are more visible, changing faster and becoming more extreme. Collectively, the indicators present “multiple lines of evidence that climate change is occurring now and here in the U.S., affecting public health and the environment,” the agency said. In 2020, for example, ocean heat reached its highest level in recorded history, and it fuels marine heat waves and coral bleaching. The extent of Arctic sea ice also was the second smallest on record dating to 1979. Wildfire and pollen seasons are starting earlier and lasting longer…”
ExxonMobil Wants You to Take Responsibility for Climate Change, Study Says. TIME.com has a summary of new research: “ExxonMobil is one of the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas companies—and it wants you to take responsibility for climate change. A new analysis from researchers at Harvard University released Thursday found that the company’s public-facing messaging on climate change since the mid-2000s consistently emphasizes “consumers,” “energy demand” and individual “needs” as the cause of climate change, as well as the avenue for potentially addressing it. Outwardly focusing on consumers’ personal responsibility is one part of the company’s nuanced messaging to deflect the blame for climate change without denying the science behind it, the researchers say…”
Why is Future Sea Level Rise So Uncertain? RealClimate has a good post listing the variables involved, here’s an excerpt: “…The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is the elephant seal in the aquarium. Ever since the 1970s it’s been suspected that it was prone to rapid collapse because the bedrock on which it sits is below sea level (and in some places, thousands of meters below sea level). More recent research constraining Eemian sea level (~125,000 yrs ago) has confirmed that WAIS collapsed at that time, adding 3 or more meters of sea level rise to the contribution from a much reduced Greenland Ice Sheet. Moreover, present day observations from gravity sensors (GRACE/GRACE-FO) show large ice mass losses from WAIS – dominated by the rapid retreats of the Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites glacier, and concomittent decreases in ice sheet elevation (from IceSat2)…”
Climate Volatility and Weather Extremes Threaten the World’s Shipping Routes. Here is an excerpt from on the private weather companies I’m involved with, AerisWeather: “…Today the numbers are staggering: from microchips to winter wheat to automobiles, massive ships ferry close to 20 million containers around the world, making over 200 million trips every year! Sophisticated GPS systems provide smart routing, but the wild card is always the weather. A new generation of massive (taller) container ships, some 200 feet above the water level, are increasingly vulnerable to strong winds and massive waves. A rapidly changing climate introduces new risks into the calculus of safely transporting goods across the world’s oceans. Warmer temperatures and more heat extremes during the summer months can impact staff, rising tides are already forcing many ports to retrofit docks, arctic warming may be influencing the prevailing winds that operators rely on to operate as quickly and efficiently as possible, warmer air is unleashing heavier rains, and consistently warmer ocean water may be fueling a new generation of stronger hurricanes, worldwide…”
NASA Reboots Its Role in Fighting Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt from a post at Nature.com: “…Among the many US federal agencies that Biden has conscripted to curb climate change, NASA stands out because it is a leader in basic planetary discoveries. Its history of Earth observation stretches back to 1960, when it launched the TIROS-1 satellite to test the feasibility of monitoring weather from space. Over more than six decades, NASA has designed, built and launched spacecraft to observe Earth as it changes. Often working in concert with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has primary responsibility for national weather forecasting, NASA runs satellites that measure ice sheets melting and carbon dioxide flowing through the atmosphere. The agency also flies aeroplanes to gather data about planetary change and funds a broad array of fundamental climate research, such as climate-modelling studies. “Our central role is in understanding how the Earth system is changing,” says St. Germain…”
Jet Stream: Is Climate Change Causing More “Blocking” Weather Events? A post at Carbon Brief caught my eye, here’s a clip: “…While models – tentatively – suggest that blocking events could decline in the mid-latitudes, there is also a prominent theory that a rapidly warming Arctic could bring more of them. The Arctic is warming more than twice as quickly than the global surface average. This phenomenon is known as “Arctic amplification”. In part, this stems from the rapid loss of sea ice cover in the region – as the ice diminishes, energy from the sun that would have been reflected away by the bright white ice is instead absorbed by the ocean, causing further warming. (Declining snow cover over Arctic land areas has the same effect.) There are some theories that these rapid changes in the Arctic “might influence the frequency of blocking events”, explains Shaffrey…”
IEA Says ‘Unprecedented’ Renewables Boom Will Continue But Needs To Be Faster: Headlines and links via Climate Nexus: “Global renewable energy capacity jumped 45% last year, the biggest annual increase since 1999, and will need to accelerate in order to meet net zero targets, a new report from the International Energy Agency says. The “unprecedented boom” the IEA predicts will become a “new normal” was driven largely by a 90% increase in global wind energy capacity. “Renewables currently are expanding rapidly, but it should be faster,” said Heymi Bahar, a renewable energy analyst at the IEA. “If your target is net-zero, it has to be faster.” While the IEA expects renewables growth to continue at 2020’s pace the sector will need to expand even faster in order to both replace coal and gas and meet new power demand driven by the electrification of transportation and industry.” (Bloomberg $, NPR, Wall Street Journal $, Reuters, The Guardian, The Verge, CNBC, Axios, Washington Examiner)
Offshore Wind Comes to Massachusetts. On federal land, the turbine farm should provide enough electricity to power 400,000 homes. Details via Nexus Media News: “The Biden administration will resume permitting review for the 800MW Vineyard Wind project off Massachusetts, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced Wednesday. Officials said the process will pick up where it left off after the previous administration canceled the review in its final weeks. The project, which is the farthest along of the nearly dozen offshore wind farms under BOEM consideration, would generate enough electricity to power roughly 400,000 homes. “Offshore wind has the potential to help our nation combat climate change, improve resilience through reliable power, and spur economic development to create good-paying jobs,” BOEM Director Amanda Lefton said in a statement. “BOEM is committed to conducting a robust and timely review of the proposed project…”
The U.S. Owes a Massive Climate Debt. One Way to Pay It: Let in Climate Migrants. Fast Company makes the argument: “The United States has generated more heat-trapping carbon pollution than any other nation, but it has not felt the impact of climate change in equal measure. Poorer countries in warmer latitudes are enduring the most devastating droughts, heat waves, and violent storms, and seeing more poverty, disease, and mass migration as a result. By doing so much to fuel climate change, the United States has incurred a massive debt to the developing world, and there is no easy way to pay down the balance. President Biden is trying, but in a country that is largely opposed to more foreign assistance, he faces significant hurdles to ramping up aid...”
“Survive the Future” Online Game Makes Climate Choices Real. Gizmodo Earther has details: “…You are the senior editor of the world’s most popular and trusted news organization. You have the enviable power to set the news agenda, and thereby shift the zeitgeist.” So reads the introductory text to Survive the Century, an online game. Also my dream bio, but I digress. What follows is a Choose Your Own Adventure-style series of prompts that allows you to game out the next decade as the world battles the pandemic, climate change, inequality, and conflict. At the end, you get to read the headlines from 2030 based on the stories and ideas you championed for the public. It’s a novel way to make the big forces that shape our world manageable, putting them in the hands of everyday people—and it allows players to imagine how to change course from our current destructive one…”
Faulty Weather Forecasts Are a Climate Crisis Disaster. The forecasts will never be perfect, but they will get better – but how to leverage state of the art simulations for higher confidence predictions of solar, wind and other renewables. A story at WIRED.com (paywall) caught my eye: “…Jack Kelly thinks he knows a way to vastly improve these predictions. A former researcher at DeepMind, the Alphabet-owned artificial intelligence firm, in 2019 Kelly cofounded Open Climate Fix, a nonprofit focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions using machine learning. “I’m a machine-learning researcher who’s terrified by climate change and keen to do everything possible to try and fix it,” Kelly says. He estimates that better solar forecasts in the UK could save 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted each year, and will be critical if the National Grid ESO is going to meet its 2025 target of operating at zero emissions whenever there is enough renewable generation available. Kelly’s idea is to use machine learning to improve what is known as solar “nowcasting”—predicting solar electricity generation less than a few hours in advance...”
Fossil Fuels, Climate Change and India’s COVID-19 Crisis. Here’s an excerpt from an analysis at TIME.com: “…There’s been some research on air pollution and COVID-19 in India specifically, but it’s probably first worth looking at the bigger picture. A slew of studies have shown direct links between exposure to air pollution and vulnerability to COVID-19. One paper published in December in the journal Cardiovascular Research found that chronic exposure to particulate matter—a type of pollution that results from a mix of chemicals that come from sources like smokestacks and fires—is likely linked to some 15% of global COVID-19 deaths. Particulate matter doesn’t just come from fossil fuels, but the study’s authors found that more than 50% of air pollution-linked COVID-19 deaths are specifically connected to fossil-fuel use...”