October 15

Climate Models Hint at Mild Bias Into January – Worst California Drought Since Late 1800s

Pete Schenck

Thursday Conditions, 11 am CDT

Frigid West, Warm East – Nation Divided Between Clash of Seasons. Capital Weather Gang has a good summary of some of the crazy extremes we’re witnessing around the USA: “An active jet stream is slicing across the center of the country and bringing a wild clash of seasons, with unseasonable warmth in the East and a frigid taste of winter in the West. Parts of the Rockies and western Plains are digging out from feet of snow that fell Tuesday and Wednesday, while a renewed dose of summer spreads over the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and New England through Saturday. In between, the seasons are waging war, brewing strong thunderstorms and heavy rainfall. Both Sunday and Tuesday featured rounds of damaging winds, hail and tornadoes on the Great Plains. Now, parts of Texas are dealing with up to 10 inches of rain and flooding, while strong thunderstorms may flare up across parts of the Plains and Midwest on Thursday afternoon...”

Mild Bias Hangs On. Perhaps yesterday’s (much colder) GFS solution was an aberration, but the latest GFS guidance shows continued ridging of high pressure into late October with temperatures trending milder than average. Boating in early November? I wouldn’t rule it out.

Predicted November – January Temperature Anomalies
NOAA Climate Prediction Center

Place Your Bets. The latest suite of longer-range climate models from NOAA CPC show a mild bias for much of the USA into the winter months. Where my brain goes: don’t fight the trends (persistence). Rumors of a Nanook, polar-vortex winter are just that, rumors.


When Heat Index Isn’t Enough. To gauge the impact of heat waves in the future, NOAA will be using wet bulb temperatures, which factor not only temperature and humidity, but wind speed and solar radiation to better predict the potential impact on people. HeatRisk takes duration of heat, especially at night, to better predict cumulative risk over time.

Brian Brettschneider

Winters Getting (A Little) Snowier Close to Home? The latest 30-year averages up to 2020 suggest a slight uptick in seasonal snowfall totals over the northern tier states of the US, although with consistently milder temperatures that snow doesn’t seem to be sticking around quite as long.

FiveThirtyEight, Hurdat2, Vecchi et al

Why Past Hurricane Seasons Don’t Tell Us Much About the Future. The hurricane data set is “lumpy” indeed, as highlighted in an illuminating post at FiveThirtyEight: “…Vecchi notes that the trend reflected after adjusting the historical values neutralizes the slow uptick we initially saw and opposes the idea that hurricanes have become more frequent in recent decades. What becomes more pronounced, however, is how variable the number of hurricanes can be within a decade, or even a single season. The dip in the 1970s and 1980s is a particularly obvious one, which Vecchi argues is due to a temporary increase in a phenomenon known as aerosol forcing. Anything that releases large quantities of nonuniform particles (think volcanic eruptions or sea spray) into the atmosphere can scatter or absorb solar radiation. That’s aerosol forcing. Ultimately, aerosol forcing can oppose the warming greenhouse effect and cause temperatures to cool…”

Climate Stories…

John Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, at the U.S. State Department in Washington.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

AP Interview: Kerry Says Climate Talks May Miss Target. He’s referring to the upcoming global climate talk at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. Associated Press reports: “Crucial U.N. climate talks next month likely will end short of the global target for cutting coal, gas and oil emissions, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry says, after nearly a year of climate diplomacy that helped win deeper cuts from allies but has so far failed to move some of the world’s biggest polluters to act fast enough. In an interview with The Associated Press, Kerry credited the United States, the European Union, Japan and others that over the past year have pledged bigger, faster cuts in climate-wrecking fossil fuel emissions ahead of the talks in Glasgow, Scotland, under nudging from Kerry and the Biden administration. He expressed hope enough nations would join in over the next couple of years. “By the time Glasgow’s over, we’re going to know who is doing their fair share, and who isn’t,” he said…”

Climate Scenarios
Guardian graphic. Source: IPCC, 2021: Summary for Policymakers. Note: The IPCC scenarios used for best-case, intermediate and worst-case scenarios are SSP1-2.6, SSP2-4.5 and SSP5-8.5.

The Climate Disaster is Here. The Guardian has a good summary of where we are today, along with future scenarios that aren’t for the faint of heart: “…Since 1970, the Earth’s temperature has raced upwards faster than in any comparable period. The oceans have heated up at a rate not seen in at least 11,000 years. “We are conducting an unprecedented experiment with our planet,” said Hayhoe. “The temperature has only moved a few tenths of a degree for us until now, just small wiggles in the road. But now we are hitting a curve we’ve never seen before.” No one is entirely sure how this horrifying experiment will end but humans like defined goals and so, in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, nearly 200 countries agreed to limit the global temperature rise to “well below” 2C, with an aspirational goal to keep it to 1.5C. The latter target was fought for by smaller, poorer nations, aware that an existential threat of unlivable heatwaves, floods and drought hinged upon this ostensibly small increment. “The difference between 1.5C and 2C is a death sentence for the Maldives,” said Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, president of the country, to world leaders at the United Nations in September…”


NASA is Preparing for the Ravages of Climate Change. WIRED.com (paywall) takes a look at what NASA is doing today and planning for tomorrow to create more resilience; here’s an excerpt: “…With some two thirds of NASA’s assets within 16 feet of sea level—including Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Johnson Space Center in Houston—hurricanes, flood risks, and rising seas are giving the agency much to worry about. “If we look globally and domestically, we have put very valuable assets, including runways and launchpads, in the coastal zone. I think NASA stepping forward with the precision of an engineering-oriented agency is very exciting to see,” says Katharine Mach, a climate scientist at the University of Miami, who’s unaffiliated with NASA and who served as a lead author of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest assessment report. NASA’s action plan describes the costs of recent extreme weather events, likely worsened by climate change, that come with big bills for repair…”

Fossil Fuel CEOs Will Testify About Role in Climate Denial Before Congress. Truthout.org explains: “Later this month, six CEOS from major fossil fuel companies and trade associations will testify before Congress at a hearing about the industry’s role in spreading climate denial, reports The Washington Post. This will be the first time oil and gas CEOs testify about the industry’s decades-long disinformation campaigns before Congress. Top executives at ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, and Shell, as well as the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are slated to testify. “In the history of Congress, the fossil fuel executives have never come before the committee … to explain climate disinformation and address the climate crisis. That will change,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California), chair of the Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Environment, told The Washington Post…”

File image
Xcel Energy

IEA Says Lots Of Progress Being Made, A Whole Lot More Progress Needed: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: “Clean energy is growing faster than ever before, but fossil fuel demand — and climate pollution — is also growing and the world’s nations must dramatically increase both their ambition and execution in order to meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, according to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook released Wednesday. At the current pace, aggregate global climate pollution cuts will only reach 40% by 2050 — scientists agree net emissions must be cut by 100% by 2050 to avoid the worst and most cataclysmic impacts of climate change.” (Energy Transition: TIME, Reuters, The Verge, Wall Street Journal $, Washington Examiner; Emissions: The Guardian, Axios, Thomson Reuters Foundation, The Hill, Wall Street Journal $, Axios)


Your Guide to COP26, the World’s Most Important Climate Talks. Here’s an excerpt from an overview at Gizmodo: “…Many see this last COP as the world’s last chance to keep warming by the end of the century below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the more aggressive target laid out in the Paris Agreement, and negotiators will have that number in mind when talking things out. COP26 president Alok Sharma has often used the catchy slogan “keep 1.5 alive” in speeches about the meetings—a play on the phrase “1.5 to stay alive,” which small island nations popularized during the Paris discussions to push for more aggressive action. In Glasgow, negotiators will work on a lot of different mechanisms meant to help countries report climate targets and communicate with each other, including setting common timeframes for NDCs and a common transparency framework that helps countries see each other’s progress and build trust that everyone is doing their climate homework…”

See How Climate Change Could Put Coastal Cities, 2/3rds of World Population Underwater. NBC’s LX has the post; here’s an excerpt: “Rising sea levels could put as much as two-thirds of the global population underwater unless the world cuts emissions in half by 2030, according to a new report released Tuesday. The nonprofit Climate Central projects the Earth could warm by 3 degrees Celsius or more in this century, which would melt more sea ice and lead to rising water levels. At that level of warming, water would cover several American landmarks like the base of the Statue of Liberty, the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the boards of the Santa Monica Pier and the Houston Space Center. The U.S. would be far from the hardest hit. To withstand the tides, some of the world’s major coastal cities, especially in Asia, would need to implement “unprecedented global defenses” like seawalls. Or residents would have to abandon the area (and become climate migrants)…”


Geoengineering: We Should Not Play Dice With the Planet. TheHill has an Op-Ed on geoengineering; here’s a quote that caught my eye: “…While it’s appealing to think that a climate “band-aid” could protect us from the worst climate impacts, solar geoengineering is more like risky elective surgery than a preventative medicine. This supposed “climate fix” might very well be worse than the disease, drying the continents and reducing crop yields, and having potentially other unforeseen negative consequences. The notion that such an intervention might somehow aid the plight of the global poor seems misguided at best. When considering how to advance climate justice in the world, it is critical to ask, “Who wins — and who loses?” in a geoengineered future. If the winners are petrostates and large corporations who, if history is any guide, will likely be granted preferred access to the planetary thermostat, and the losers are the global poor — who already suffer disproportionately from dirty fossil fuels and climate impacts — then we might simply be adding insult to injury…”

Ben Santer, an avid hiker and climber, in 2018 at Camp 18 on the Juneau Icefield in Alaska.
Photo credit: The Duncan Group

Ben Santer on “Separating” and His “Small Part” in Understanding Climate Science. Yale Climate Connections has his post; here’s an excerpt: “…I have one final “lesson learned” from the past 29 years. My time at LLNL taught me that scientific understanding is always under attack by powerful forces of unreason. Such attacks cause great harm. They must be opposed. Demonizing science and scientists is dangerous for our health and for the health of our planet. When ignorance and alternative facts are elevated in public discourse, it’s critically important for scientists to speak science to power. To declare in public what they’ve learned, how they’ve learned it, and why that understanding matters. Remaining silent is not an option when well tested science is presented as unsettled or incorrectly dismissed as a hoax. I’m proud of the fact that in my 29 years at LLNL, I defended LLNL’s technical work on climate fingerprinting, even when such defense was politically inconvenient…”


Supposedly Pro-Climate Companies ‘Missing The Moment’ To Support Action — Report: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: “None of America’s largest “climate positive” corporations are fully supporting the country’s biggest and best legislative opportunity in over a decade to address the climate crisis and move toward alignment with the Paris Agreement, a new report shows. The report, a collaboration of ClimateVoice and InfluenceMap found none of the top 20 “climate positive” companies have endorsed the climate policies of the Build Back Better Act, supported its revenue raising provisions, and opposed lobbying against the bill by trade associations; 12 met none of those requirements. Those companies — 3M, Cisco Systems, Coca-Cola, Google, HP, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Nike, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Qualcomm, and Tesla — are “missing the moment,” the report said. “This is our shot at national policy,” ClimateVoice founder Bill Weihl told Grist. If these companies don’t step up, “they are going to be held to account for years to come.” (Grist).

Apollo 11 File

At Least 85% of the World’s Population Lives in Areas Affected by Climate Change: Study. The Washington Post (paywall) has details: “At least 85 percent of the global population has experienced weather events made worse by climate change, according to research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change. After using machine learning to analyze and map more than 100,000 studies of events that could be linked to global warming, researchers paired the analysis with a well-established data set of temperature and precipitation shifts caused by fossil fuel use and other sources of carbon emissions. These combined findings — which focused on events such as crop failures, floods and heat waves — allowed scientists to make a solid link between escalating extremes and human activities. They concluded that global warming has affected 80 percent of the world’s land area…”

Hoping cooler heads prevail…
City of Phoenix

Deadly Heat is Baking Cities. Here’s How to Cool Them Down. WIRED.com (paywall) takes a look at the leading weather-related cause of death in the US: “…As global temperatures rapidly climb, scientists, governments, and activists are scrambling for ways to counter the heat island effect. According to the World Health Organization, the number of people exposed to heat waves jumped by 125 million between 2000 and 2016. Extreme heat kills more Americans than any other natural disaster, and is especially dangerous for folks with preexisting conditions like asthma. By 2050, seven in 10 people will live in cities, says the World Bank. That will be a whole lot of sweltering humans. “I really see cities as kind of a canary in the coal mine type of situation, where you have a little bit of a harbinger of what the rest of the planet could be experiencing,” says Portland State University climate adaptation scientist Vivek Shandas, who has studied the heat island effect in over 50 US cities...”

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