2021 Summer Heat Records. Climate Central has a good overview of a very hot summer for much of the USA: “Summer 2021 was definitely a “Summer of the Extremes” as floods, fires, drought, intense heat, and powerful storms ripped across the U.S. and the globe. Record or near-record heat baked the U.S. this summer, especially the Pacific Northwest. Climate Central conducted its own analysis on local heat records and found that 38% (538) of 1396 locations had one of their 10 hottest summers this year. Heat wasn’t the only extreme weather event this summer. Across the nation, many regions were hit with persistent drought, heavy flooding, strong storms, or burning wildfires. The more we emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the more extreme weather events we will face in the future…”
September Drought Outlook. Some (slightly) encouraging news from NOAA CPC: they see some improvement in Minnesota’s drought through the end of September.
A Bitter Winter Ahead? Don’t hold your breath. Winter forecasts are more horoscope than established science, but we still want to know. Here’s an excerpt from Patch: “The Old Farmer’s Almanac says a “season of shivers” with brutally cold temperatures and lots of snow awaits much of the United States this winter. “This coming winter could well be one of the longest and coldest that we’ve seen in years,” Janice Stillman, editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, said in a news release. Minnesotans can expect “cold, dry” weather this winter, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac...”
Temperatures Trend Close to Average Into Mid-September. A few blips of cooler air, but nothing sweatshirt-worthy just yet as the core of the jet stream pushes south, bringing sweeps of Canadian air with it.
The Drought of 2021. The Minnesota DNR has a very good overview of this year’s drought; here’s an excerpt: “A major drought overtook Minnesota during 2021, as persistent moisture deficits combined with above-normal temperatures across the state. In some parts of the state, the drought was as serious as anything experienced in over 40 years, though for most of the state it was the worst drought in 10-30 years. Although the period of greatest intensification and expansion began during the summer of 2021, dry conditions had been building in many areas during since early and mid-2020. Following is a basic timeline of the drought’s development, spread, and general behavior…”
New Jersey Supercell. Words I never thought I would see grouped together in my lifetime, but Kansas-size tornadoes (large, destructive and long-lasting) were observed from Annapolis to Philadelphia, New Jersey, even metro New York City Wednesday evening.
1 in 100 Year Flood. I was tracking incredible rainfall rates Wednesday evening from the suburbs of Philadelphia into metro New York City – early analysis suggests a 1 in 100, possibly even a 1 in 200 year flood for this area.
UN: Weather Disasters Soar in Numbers, but Deaths Fall. We can thank much improved technology (weather models, Doppler, etc) and better communications for the drop in deaths, in spite of a sharp uptick in weather-related disasters. Associated Press has the post: “Weather disasters are striking the world four to five times more often and causing seven times more damage than in the 1970s, the United Nations weather agency reports. But these disasters are killing far fewer people. In the 1970s and 1980s, they killed an average of about 170 people a day worldwide. In the 2010s, that dropped to about 40 per day, the World Meteorological Organization said in a report Wednesday that looks at more than 11,000 weather disasters in the past half-century...”
It’s Time to Pay Attention to the Power Grid. CNN.com has a good analysis of the challenges involved in keeping the lights on, no matter what Mother Nature throws at us: “…Burying power lines might be an attractive option in some places, but buried lines can be vulnerable in flooding, are prohibitively expensive, take longer to repair and would divert money from other resilience ideas, like a more diverse set of energy sources, including solar, or even just making building codes stricter, so that homes are more energy efficient and last longer when the power does go out. These decisions will vary from state to state and city to city. Dyson, who wants to see more solar energy and microgrids that can help during disaster response, is worried that utilities and governments react to these disasters in the wrong way. In many cases, he said, “the industry is doubling down on some of the technologies that are actually failing us…”
New Orleans’ Levees Hold Against Ida’s Onslaught, but Hurricane Leaves Major Damage. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson report for Yale Climate Connections: “The levees protecting New Orleans held off Hurricane Ida’s storm surge after its landfall near midday on Sunday, avoiding a repeat of the catastrophe that occurred exactly 16 years earlier when Hurricane Katrina breached multiple levees and flooded the city. Only one death has been reported as of 2 p.m. EDT Monday from Ida, the result of a falling tree. However, damage from the hurricane was widespread and severe, and a complete picture of the destruction the great hurricane has wrought is just beginning to be understood. Insurance broker Aon estimated Ida’s damage would be “well into the double-digit billions…”
Hurricane Ida’s Strength May Have Seemed Surprising. But Not to Forecasters. NHC nailed the forecast, track and intensity. USA TODAY has more perspective: “…Did Ida’s more-rapid-than-expected-growth catch meteorologists off guard? Experts said no: The accuracy of the forecast from the National Hurricane Center was spot-on and the best possible under the limits of science. “The NHC was explicitly calling for rapid intensification right from the time of storm formation and had Ida pegged as a Category 4 about 36 hours prior to landfall,” Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach told USA TODAY. “Rapid intensification” is a process in which a storm undergoes accelerated growth: The phenomenon is typically defined to be a tropical cyclone intensifying by at least 35 mph in a 24-hour period...”
When Climate Change Comes To Your Doorstep. An essay at The New York Times (paywall) got my attention; here’s a clip: “…We are now at the dawn of America’s Great Climate Migration Era. For now, it is piecemeal, and moves are often temporary. Brutalized by hurricanes, flooding and a winter storm, Lake Charles, La., residents have been living with relatives for months. In early August, the Dixie fire — the largest single fire in recorded California history — claimed at least one entire town, and locals took to living in tents. Apartment dwellers in Lynn Haven, Fla., were forced from their homes to slosh through streets flooded by Tropical Storm Fred. The evacuee tally has continued to rise, from New Englanders in the path of Hurricane Henri to flood survivors in North Carolina and Tennessee to people escaping fire in Montana and Minnesota. But permanent relocations, by individuals and eventually whole communities, are increasingly becoming unavoidable…”
FEMA Knows a Lot About Climate-Driven Flooding. But It’s Not Pushing Homeowners Hard Enough to Buy Insurance. Inside Climate News has the story: “The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been collecting a lot of information about flood risks across America, including the increased risk of flooding linked to climate change. But the agency has not effectively used that new knowledge to persuade more Americans to buy flood insurance, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. As a result, homeowners are at increasing risk of costly damage from floods, and the government is facing rising costs for disaster relief assistance, the report found. The report called on Congress to consider requiring FEMA to evaluate how the agency can use the “comprehensive and up-to-date flood risk information” it has been collecting to determine which properties should be required to have flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program...”
Extreme Sea Levels to Become Much More Common Worldwide as Earth Warms. PNNL has the post; here’s a clip: “…A new study, appearing in the journal Nature Climate Change August 30, looks specifically at extreme sea levels—the occurrence of exceptionally high seas due to the combination of tide, waves and storm surge. The study predicts that because of rising temperatures, extreme sea levels along coastlines the world over will become 100 times more frequent by the end of the century in about half of the 7,283 locations studied. That means, because of rising temperatures, an extreme sea level event that would have been expected to occur once every 100 years currently is expected to occur, on average, every year by the end of this century. While the researchers say there is uncertainty—as always—about future climate, the most likely path is that these increased instances of sea level rise will occur even with a global temperature increase of 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial temperatures…”
How Easily the Climate Crisis Can Become Global Chaos. We got a glimpse this summer, according to Dr. Jeff Masters who writes for TheHill: “…This worst-case scenario year — though unlikely to occur exactly this way — illustrates one of the greatest threats of climate change: extreme droughts and floods hitting multiple major grain-producing “breadbaskets” simultaneously. The scenario is similar to one outlined by insurance giant Lloyds of London in a ”Food System Shock” report issued in 2015. Lloyds gave uncomfortably high odds of such an event occurring — well over 0.5 percent per year, or more than an 18 percent chance over a 40-year period…If business-as-usual is allowed to continue, a civilization-threatening climate catastrophe will occur. Mother Nature’s primal fury of 2021 is just a preview of what is coming...”
PR Executives’ Plea to Stop Doing Business with Fossil Fuel Companies. Here’s the intro of an open letter at Clean Creatives: “You had a future, and so should we. We are tomorrow’s leaders of advertising, PR, and the rest of the marketing industry. We are creators, strategists, dreamers, and doers. We are current students, recent grads, interns, junior creatives, and rising stars. The biggest threat to our future is climate change. The world’s twenty biggest polluters are fossil fuel companies, with the entire energy sector responsible for creating 75% of carbon emissions. They are blocking necessary and urgently needed climate action. And our industry is helping them do it. We’re angry. We’re afraid. And we refuse to sit back and watch it happen. We, tomorrow’s leaders, call on all agencies, from the holding companies to the independent shops, to stop working with fossil fuel clients. This means oil giants as well as the alphabet soup of trade associations and front groups...”
What Would Happen If All Antarctic Ice Melted? It won’t all melt anytime soon, but our great great great grandkids may have questions. Here’s an excerpt from WIRED.com (paywall): “…So you see how bad this could be. Even if my estimates are off by a little bit—it seems clear that there could be a very significant sea level rise. That would suck. Note that this is just an approximation. I didn’t take into account the loss of land surface area that gets flooded by the rising seas. This would actually decrease the sea level rise, as it would have a greater area to spread out. But even if you let the water spread over a complete Earth (including the land), it would be an increase of 62 meters (203 feet). I guess I should also point out that I ignored the curvature of the Earth and assumed it was a flat plat (the flat-Earthers would be happy). But since the change in sea level is very small compared to the radius of the Earth, I think this approximation is fairly fine. Well, fine as an estimation—not fine as the disaster it would cause…”
Climate Change is Making Hurricanes Stronger, Slower and Wetter. Ida Checked All the Boxes. Perspective from CNN.com; here’s an excerpt: “…Before making landfall on Sunday, Hurricane Ida went through a remarkable period of strengthening: its maximum sustained winds increased by 65 mph in just 24 hours. Scientists define rapid intensification — a process that historically has been rare — as an increase of 35 mph in 24 hours or less. Hurricane Ida nearly doubled that definition. For rapid intensification to occur, warm ocean water must extend well below the surface, going hundreds of feet deep, to provide enough engine for the hurricane to strengthen. This has led scientists to believe that storms are more likely to undergo rapid intensification as a result of warmer oceans. “If you increase the speed limit, you make more room for the storms to strengthen, so it can intensify more quickly,” Jim Kossin, a senior scientist with the Climate Service, an organization that provides climate risk analysis to governments and businesses, told CNN...”
The Arctic Circle Saw Record-High Temperatures in 2020, NOAA Report Finds. CBS News reports: “Last summer, Russia reached 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit — the highest temperature ever measured within the Arctic Circle, according to an annual climate report released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. With help from a record-breaking concentration of carbon dioxide on the planet, the Arctic’s surface air temperature broke a 121-year record in 2020. “Today scientists sounded the alarm on the climate crisis again,” Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, said in a statement regarding the report. “It is clear that without swift action, we can unfortunately expect to set new records like these every year…”
Britain’s Economy is Already Seeing a Rapid Shift Due to Climate Change. Good news for wine-makers in the United Kingdom, but that’s one of the few bright spots. CNBC.com has the post; here’s the intro: “Climate change could spark major shifts in British produce in the coming decades as the country attempts to avoid a “catastrophic” environmental fallout, experts have said. At the end of July, the U.K.’s Royal Meteorological Society published its State of the U.K. Climate 2020 report, with the authors noting that last year was England’s third warmest year since records began in 1884. Meanwhile, the U.K. Met Office predicts that the country is set for warmer and wetter winters, hotter and drier summers and “more frequent and intense weather extremes” because of climate change...”
Global Weather Disruptions Threaten Agriculture in Advanced Countries. Everything is connected, especially agriculture, argues a post at VOX, CEPR Policy Portal: “…Since poor countries have to bear the bulk of the climate change burden, it is often argued that this acts as a disincentive for rich economies to mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions (Althor et al. 2016). However, the rise in the frequency and intensity of severe weather events around the globe, as well as crop diseases and pests due to climate change, could also have an impact on the economic performance of countries that are not directly exposed to the extreme events through global agricultural production shortfalls and surges in food commodity prices. Specifically, since global production of the most important crops is concentrated in a small number of major producing regions that are vulnerable to extreme weather conditions, the IPCC projects greater risks of global food system disruptions and agricultural production shortfalls that trigger substantial rises in global food prices (IPCC 2019)...”