September 23

Ripening Fall Colors – Using Satellite Wind Lidar to Improve Hurricane Forecasts – Summer Wildfire Smoke Emitted More CO2 Than India Does In a Year

Fall Color Finder
Minnesota DNR

Falls Colors Peaking Over Minnesota Arrowhead

The outlook for the next few weeks calls for a blizzard of color, caravans of determined leaf-peepers, and backyard workouts involving rakes. The leaves are leaving, but not before a crescendo of color, nature’s exclamation point, coming at the end of the hottest summer on record for Minnesota and the nation.

Colors are peaking over the Minnesota Arrowhead, but the most vibrant hues of magenta, rust and lemon may be 2 weeks away in the metro area. Trees are stressed from the ongoing drought, so colors may be more muted than previous years, but it should still be quite a show. Good luck.


Minnesota DNR


No Sustained Canadian Slaps Into Early October. GFS guidance predicts a few cut-off lows over the continental US, where temperatures trend milder than average the next few weeks. Any significant blasts of chilly air will remain well north of the Canadian border into mid-October, based on all the guidance I’m looking at.



Brian Brettschneider

Extreme Heat Hits 30% of Americans This Summer. Nexus Media News has the details: “Nearly one-third of all Americans live in a county hit by an extreme weather disaster in the past three months, with far more living in places that have endured a multi-day heatwave, a Washington Post analysis revealed. Climate change, caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is supercharging heatwaves, hurricanes, wildfires fueled by drought, and extreme precipitation that causes flooding. Those phenomena have killed at least 388 people in the U.S. since June…”


Paul Douglas

New Forecasting Models Could Help Prevent Heat-Related Deaths. Here’s an excerpt of an explainer at phys.org: “...Of all the natural disasters occurring in recent decades, heatwaves have caused the greatest loss of human life. And, as temperatures continue to increase, more lives will be put at risk. The key to saving lives is the use of accurate and reliable weather prediction models that go well beyond today’s standard weekly forecasts. One such model is sub-seasonal to seasonal (S2S) forecasting. Falling between weather forecast models, which predict the weather over the next week or so, and climate models, which predict the average weather, or climate, over many years, S2S forecast serve as extended weather forecasts…”


NOAA

Hurricanes, Floods, Wildfires and Extreme Heat: A Time-Line of 2021’s Devastating Weather Events, To Date. It’s a long list, courtesy of Forbes; here’s a clip: “…The average temperature for the lower 48 states during the 2021 meteorological summer (June to August) was 74 degrees, which is 2.6 degrees above average, tying it for the warmest summer on record, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which also notes this summer’s ranks as the eighth wettest on record. Each of the past six years has been among the hottest on record, with 2020 tying 2016 as the hottest year ever, according to Copernicus Climate Change Service, climate researchers based in Europe. A separate recent study conducted by 70 researchers using updated epidemiological and climate modeling data in 43 countries found that 37% of heat-related deaths are attributable to increased warming associated with climate change…”


Artist impression of Aeolus satellite with a Doppler Wind Lidar.
Courtesy Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute

Study on the Best Way to Improve Forecasts Using a Proposed Satellite-Based Doppler Wind Lidar. Here’s an excerpt from NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division: “Accurate forecasts of the future weather depend on observing what is happening now in the atmosphere. There remain many gaps in our current observations, especially over the oceans where most measurements come from satellites. An instrument that could measure the winds at many levels through the atmosphere (called a Doppler Wind Lidar) could be placed on satellites in the future to fill this gap. These wind profiling instruments on satellites that orbit the earth may provide frequent observations of what is happening currently in the atmosphere. This could lead to more accurate forecasts by the numerical models used by forecasters to make their predictions. A Doppler Wind Lidar currently exists on a satellite that circles the earth (polar-orbiting satellite) and observes a single line of wind profiles...


Climate Stories…

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, at United Nations headquarters in New York.
Eduardo Munoz/Pool Photo via AP

“The World Must Wake Up”: Tasks Daunting as UN Meeting Opens. Here’s the intro to a recap at Associated Press: “In person and on screen, world leaders returned to the United Nations’ foremost gathering for the first time in the pandemic era on Tuesday with a formidable, diplomacy-packed agenda and a sharply worded warning from the international organization’s leader: “We face the greatest cascade of crises in our lifetime.” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres rang the alarm in his annual state-of-the-world speech at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly’s high-level meeting for leaders of its 193 member nations. More than 100 heads of state and government kept away by COVID-19 are returning to the U.N. in person for the first time in two years. But with the pandemic still raging, about 60 will deliver pre-recorded statements over coming days. “We are on the edge of an abyss — and moving in the wrong direction,” Guterres said. “I’m here to sound the alarm. The world must wake up...”


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NASA Earth Observatory

Summer Wildfires Emitted More Carbon Dioxide Than India Does in a Year. Gizmodo has the story; here’s the intro: “The world set a scary new record last month: Wildfires around the world pumped out more carbon dioxide than ever before. Forests on multiple continents went up in smoke, spewing out billions of tons of carbon dioxide, new data from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service shows. In July, wildfires emitted nearly 1.3 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, a record that was topped by August’s 1.4 gigatons. Between the two months, forest fires emitted an amount of carbon dioxide greater than all of India’s carbon emissions in a year. The majority of those emissions came from wildfires two regions, western North America and Siberia. Blazes in both regions were fueled by heat waves, drought conditions, and low soil moisture levels—three hallmarks of the climate crisis…”


Big Tech’s Pro-Climate Rhetoric is Not Matched by Policy Action, Report Finds. The Guardian has the post: “The world’s biggest tech companies are coming out with bold commitments to tackle their climate impact but when it comes to using their corporate muscle to advocate for stronger climate policies, their engagement is almost nonexistent, according to a new report. Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Facebook and Microsoft poured about $65m into lobbying in 2020, but an average of only 6% of their lobbying activity between July 2020 and June 2021 was related to climate policy, according to an analysis from the thinktank InfluenceMap, which tracked companies’ self-reported lobbying on federal legislation. The report also sought to capture tech companies’ overall engagement with climate policy by analyzing activities including their top-level communications as well as lobbying on specific legislation...”


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UK Met Office

Climate Scientist Katharine Hayhoe’s Faithful Quest to Heal a Divided World. Here’s an excerpt of an interview at Religion & Politics: “…Though we have been very focused on the divide between the people who think that climate change is real and those who do not, we should be more concerned with the divide between those who think it’s real and those who think it matters to them. You can concede that climate change is real and important and even serious, but if you don’t think it matters to you, then you’re unlikely to do anything to fix it. I should add, too, that polling data shows we are not talking about it. We are not having conversations about climate, and the media is not covering it. I saw a pretty shocking statistic recently: that Jeff Bezos’ space launch had received as much media attention in a single day as climate change had received in the previous year. So we aren’t talking about it, and talking is a window into our minds. It’s our means for showing others what we think about, what we care about. We can’t read each other’s minds. If we, as individuals and as a nation, are not talking about climate change, then it will never receive the priority that it requires...”


Paul Douglas

Xi Announces Ending Of Chinese Coal Support Abroad: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “China will no longer build coal-fired power plants overseas, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced Tuesday in an address to the UN General Assembly. Xi gave no timeline, the announcement is likely to mark the beginning of the end of coal plant construction in the developing world. Depending on when it is implemented, China’s new policy could cut off $50 billion of foreign investment and halt the construction of up to 47 planned coal plants in 20 countries, about equal to the entire remaining German coal fleet. “It’s a big deal. China was the only significant funder of overseas coal left. This announcement essentially ends all public support for coal globally,” Joanna Lewis, an expert on China, energy and climate at Georgetown University, told the AP. “This is the announcement many have been waiting for.” Asia Society Policy Institute fellow and former climate diplomat Thom Woodroofe described the announcement as a “line in the sand” and told the Guardian, “It is further evidence China knows the future is paved by renewables. The key question now is when they will draw a similar line in the sand at home.” (The Guardian, NPR, Wall Street Journal $, Reuters, New York Times $, Politico, Axios, BBC, Reuters, Climate Home, CNET, FT $, Washington Examiner)



Climate Central

Climate Change and Crops. If we continue on our current emissions path crop yields will be impacted. Here’s an excerpt from a summary at Climate Central: “…Extreme heat and drought are colliding across large swaths of the United States, damaging crops in the process. A new study shows that drought exacerbates crop damages from heat, and that drier heat waves from our warming climate may cut global corn and soybean yields by 5% globally. Corn production is expected to fall across much of the U. S., with especially strong declines in Missouri, Kansas, and the Carolinas. Because the harvest is larger in portions of Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois, the economic impacts are potentially higher in these locations…”


Paul Douglas

Climate Change is Killing Trees and Causing Power Outages. NPR reports: “...Climate change has stoked a host of threats to trees, not just in California but across the country. Extreme storms, droughts, disease and insects are stressing and killing trees, and these trees pose a growing threat of wildfires and to grid reliability, many large utilities say. The Dixie Fire in Northern California, which has already burned more than 950,000 acres, was likely sparked by a tree falling onto a power line. According to more than a dozen of the country’s largest utilities, branches and trees falling on power lines are a leading source of power outages. Some utilities say that because of factors related to climate change, trees are dying faster than they can reach them on their normal trimming cycles...”


A woman street vendor carries water for sale in Kanda neighbourhood of Accra, Ghana, November 27, 2018.
REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Twin Threats: Climate Migrants Said to Face Greater Risk of Modern Slavery. A story at Thomas Reuters Foundation made me do a double-take; here’s an excerpt: “…Climate change acts as a “stress multiplier” on existing factors such as poverty, inequality and conflict that drive modern slavery, with those uprooted from their homes especially at risk, the report noted. It describes situations where people affected by climate change impacts – particularly women and girls – find themselves prey to trafficking agents or working merely to pay off escalating debts to employers. That might include people living in aid camps because their homes were destroyed in a storm, or female family members left behind at home after their male relatives migrate to cities in search of work as the family land becomes infertile. For example, in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, in 2013, many survivors were coerced into working as prostitutes or labourers, the report noted. Costly and damaging annual floods in Assam, in north-east India, also have led to women and girls being forced into child slavery or forced marriage to make ends meet...”


BBC News

Climate Change: World Now Sees Twice as Many Days Over 50C. BBC News has results of new research: “The number of extremely hot days every year when the temperature reaches 50C has doubled since the 1980s, a global BBC analysis has found. They also now happen in more areas of the world than before, presenting unprecedented challenges to human health and to how we live. The total number of days above 50C (122F) has increased in each decade since 1980. On average, between 1980 and 2009, temperatures passed 50C about 14 days a year. The number rose to 26 days a year between 2010 and 2019. In the same period, temperatures of 45C and above occurred on average an extra two weeks a year...”



NOAA, The New York Times

Why We’re Experiencing So Many Hot Summer Nights. Dew points are consistently higher, there is more water in the air than a generation ago, which limits how much temperatures can cool at night. Here’s a clip from The New York Times (paywall): “…While average nighttime temperatures are on the rise, it’s the extremes — that is, the number of abnormally hot nights — that are rising the fastest. A small shift in the average can mean a large change in the frequency of extreme events, with big consequences for climate change. When the average temperature increases, the distribution of daily temperatures shifts towards its tail end. “We are making that tail fatter,” said Claudia Tebaldi, a climate scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “And so the possibility of experiencing a day that belongs to the tail is higher than it used to be.” There’s a saying among climate scientists: “The sting is in the tail.” Extreme weather, although rare, does the most damage...”

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