August 17

Origin of “Dog Days” – Smoky US Summers On Increase Since 2016

Welcome to the Dog Days of Summer

We get a whiff of Dog Days this week as daytime highs flirt with 90 degrees through Friday. Dog Days have nothing to do with an urge to pant or beg for treats, and everything to do with Sirius, the dog star – brightest in the nighttime sky. Ancient Greeks thought the star added to the heat of the sun, resulting in unbearable August heat. Of course it doesn’t quite work like that.

Hazy, smoky sunshine lingers much of this week with thicker smoke the farther north and west you travel away from the Twin Cities. Data suggests, increasingly, that wildfire smoke can complicate Covid-19 respiratory issues, so we will hope for the best in the days and weeks to come.




Seasonably Warm. No Minnesota State Fair heat waves brewing, at least not yet. I see 80s, even a few days in the 70s, with the epicenter of heat and humidity well south of town into the first few days of September.


Air Quality Index, Smoke Plumes across western USA
https://fire.airnow.gov/#

Exposure to Wildfire Smoke may Increase Risk of Dying from Covid-19. Gizmodo has details: “Amid a record-breaking fire season in the U.S. West, new research shows that air pollution from last year’s wildfires California, Washington, and Oregon was associated with an increased risk of contracting and dying from covid-19. For the new study, published in Science Advances on Friday, researchers examined publicly available data on the covid-19 cases and deaths from 92 counties across the three states—covering the areas where most of the year’s wildfires occurred—over the course of 277 days in 2020. They then compared the numbers with regional public data on levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air from the same time span...”


NOAA

It’s Official: July was Earth’s Hottest Month on Record. NOAA has details: “July 2021 has earned the unenviable distinction as the world’s hottest month ever recorded, according to new global data released today by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “In this case, first place is the worst place to be,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded. This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”

  • Around the globe: the combined land and ocean-surface temperature was 1.67 degrees F (0.93 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average of 60.4 degrees F (15.8 degrees C), making it the hottest July since records began 142 years ago. It was 0.02 of a degree F (0.01 of a degree C) higher than the previous record set in July 2016, which was then tied in 2019 and 2020...”

NOAA

July Was Earth’s Hottest Month On Record: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “July 2021 was officially Earth’s hottest month in nearly 150 years of record-keeping, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed on Friday. Combined land and ocean average temperatures were 1.67°F above the 20th century average, beating out by 0.02°F a previous record set in July 2016 and tied in 2019 and 2020. The past seven Julys, from 2015 to 2021, have been hotter than any previous July (often the hottest month of the year) going back through 1860. In particular, the Northern Hemisphere suffered from extreme heat, including at least five heat domes, leading to a land-surface temperature of 2.77°F (1.54°C) above the average – the largest anomaly on record, NOAA found. “In this case, first place is the worst place to be,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement. “July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded. This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.” (NOAA, Washington Post $, AP, NPR, Gizmodo, Axios, Yale Climate Connections).


Climate Stories…

NOAA

Heat Waves, Wildfires and Drought: How This Summer is a Preview of Earth’s Coming Climate Crisis. Note to self – it’s not “coming”; it’s here. NBC News has an overview; here’s a clip that caught my attention: “…Extreme weather events, including heat waves, are driven by a complex mix of atmospheric processes and can vary from year to year, but climate change helps amplify the threats, said Philip Mote, a climate scientist at Oregon State University. Global warming can also create feedback loops that then make other extreme events more likely to occur. Droughts, for instance, can intensify heat waves because the sun can more easily heat the ground when there is less moisture in the soil to evaporate. “Right now, we have drought conditions over half the country, so that’s also playing into why we’re seeing so much heat this summer,” Bumbaco said…”


Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma brought a snowball to the Senate floor in 2015 to support his erroneous claim that the planet is not getting hotter.
CSPAN.org

Amid Extreme Weather, a Shift Among Republicans on Climate Change. The New York Times explains; here’s an excerpt: “After a decade of disputing the existence of climate change, many leading Republicans are shifting their posture amid deadly heat waves, devastating drought and ferocious wildfires that have bludgeoned their districts and unnerved their constituents back home. Members of Congress who long insisted that the climate is changing due to natural cycles have notably adjusted that view, with many now acknowledging the solid science that emissions from burning oil, gas and coal have raised Earth’s temperature. But their growing acceptance of the reality of climate change has not translated into support for the one strategy that scientists said in a major United Nations report this week is imperative to avert an even more harrowing future: stop burning fossil fuels…”


NASA File

5 Takeaways from the Major New U.N. Climate Report. The New York Times (paywall) has perspective; here’s a clip: “…This report is the sixth assessment of climate science by the U.N. group, and unlike previous reports, this one dispenses with any doubt about who or what is responsible for global warming. “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land,” the report says in its very first finding. Observed increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since 1750 can be directly tied to human activity, largely the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels as the world became industrialized. Those emissions have increased greatly over time and continue today, as the world grows even warmer. And the impacts are being felt in every region of the world...”


Five Key Excerpts from the United Nations’ Climate Change Report. Here’s an excerpt of a good explainer at The Washington Post (paywall): “…Another major advance from earlier assessments is scientists’ ability to link climate change to weather and climatic systems. “The IPCC has connected the dots on climate change and the increase in dangerous extreme weather events … far more directly than in past reports” said Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric Science at Pennsylvania State University. It has also shown that these impacts are going to be felt in nearly every corner of the globe, and will get worse as temperatures increase across higher and higher thresholds. At 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming, for instance, parts of North America will already see an uptick in the number of days during which temperatures climb above 95 degrees Fahrenheit…”

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