Compare this image from last winter to the current ones below

John Abraham in The Guardian:

As I sit here in a northern part of the United States (Minnesota), a rare summer arctic blast barrels down from Canada on what otherwise is one of the warmest days of the year. Global warming? I could use some global warming today, people are saying.

Not only is this a teachable moment, but it coincides with a major new study on climate connections. First, let’s see the current jet stream. It is wildly undulating, first swinging up into northern Canada before curving back and plunging into the central United States.

Typically, the jet stream represents a separation between cold arctic air and warmer southern air. If you are north of the jet stream, temperatures are cold whereas south of the jet stream it’s more likely to be warm.

With this in mind, and the jet stream shown, you can almost predict the temperature pattern in the next image. The match is incredible and it is clear that my Minnesota cold-blast is more than balanced out by near 90°F temperatures in northern Canada. With all of this, I want to talk about a new study that looks at these fluctuations on a longer term.

Very recently, a paper Amplified mid-latitude planetary waves favor particular regional weather extremes was published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The authors, James Screen and Ian Simmonds, investigated the role that changes to upper level winds in the atmosphere have on the occurrence of extreme weather. What they found was very interesting.

The authors don’t ask the question “are humans changing the jet stream patterns?”. Instead, they ask, “how do undulations in the jet stream affect weather?”. To be fully accurate, the study isn’t just about jet streams, it really deals with mid-latitude planetary waves but for this article, I will use the term “jet stream” as a surrogate for simplicity.

The authors went back into our weather records (1979–2012) and found the 40 months with the most extreme weather (most extreme precipitation and most extreme temperatures). They then evaluated how “wavy” the jet stream was during those extreme months. They found that,

months of extreme weather over mid-latitudes are commonly accompanied by significantly amplified quasi-stationary mid-tropospheric planetary waves. Conversely, months of near average weather over mid-latitudes are often accompanied by significantly attenuated waves.

In common parlance, this means that when the jet stream undulates and travels very slowly, we see more extreme weather. Conversely, when the jet stream travels in a straighter path, the weather is less extreme.

Joe Romm in ClimateProgress:

“We’ve got this cool air coming down over the eastern half of the country, and that’s gonna just be kind of nice,” said Jennifer Francis, an atmospheric scientist and research professor at Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences. “But along the east coast, we’re looking at storms and floods. On the west coast, we’re looking at heat and fires. And it’s all part of this jet stream pattern.”

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More from Rocky Mountain Institute on the Solar juggernaut.  A tech revolution moving faster than cell phones.

This week’s piece about Big Tobacco loving Physicist William Happer sparked some discussions, again, about the eerie affinity climate deniers have for  deadly, addictive poison. Go figure.

A new friend reminded me of the video above, where Joe Bast, Chief of the Climate and Tobacco denying Heartland Institute, was confronted with his own past affirmations of Tobacco’s safety – wherein he first feigned a memory lapse, then, when confronted with his actual words, agreed that, yes, all that talk about tobacco risks was way overblown.  Great work by journalist Lee Fang.

Since Heartland just finished their latest Climate Denial Convention shindig in Las Vegas, I thought a reality check and reminder might be  in order. This is who, and what, we are dealing with, folks.



I’ve posted in the past about Bast’s boot licking appeals for funding to the tobacco industry, such as the 1999 letter to a Phillip Morris executive, which includes this friendly appeal:

Because Heartland does many things that benefit Philip Morris’ bottom line, things that no other organization does, I hope you will consider boosting your general operating support this year to $30,000 and once again reserve a Gold Table for an additional $5,000.

We genuinely need your financialsupport. Maybe by the end of this letter you’ll agree that we merit even greater support; I certainly hope so!

Heartland has devoted considerable attention to defending tobacco (and other industries) from what I view as being an unjust campaign of public demonization and legal harassment. We’re an important voice defending smokers and their freedom to use a still-legal product.

The Heartlander, our monthly newsletter for members, has called attention to the dangerous legal precedents and discriminatory taxes that are part of the campaign against tobacco in cover essays appearing in the October, November, and June issues.

Recent and past Heartland publications on tobacco, including a Heartland Policy Study and several Perspectives, and the 21 documents on the subject available fromPoIicyFax, are all available on Heartland’s Web site. Particularly popular are two of my essays, titled “Five Lies About Tobacco” and “Joe Camel is Innocent.”

Below, reposting my most popular video, which documents more on the tobacco/climate connection.

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An aerial view of the Birch Creek Fire complex, which seared 250,000 acres as of Wednesday. Credit: NWTFire/Facebook/

A large number of uncontrolled fires are burning across the Canadian NWT. The prevailing flow brings some of that smoke to darken Greenland ice.


Example of one day last week of fires detected from NASA satellite thermal imagery. Analysis by Jason Box as part of the Dark Snow project

Brian Kahn at Climate Central

“The amount of acres burned in the Northwest Territories is six times greater than the 25-year average to-date according to data from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.

Boreal forests like those in the Northwest Territories are burning at rates “unprecedented” in the past 10,000 years according to the authors of a study put out last year. The northern reaches of the globe are warming at twice the rate as areas closer to the equator, and those hotter conditions are contributing to more widespread burns.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s landmark climate report released earlier this year indicates that for every 1.8°F rise in temperatures, wildfire activity is expected to double.

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Huffington Post:

“The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler,” said Princeton University professor William Happer while being interviewed on “Squawk Box” on CNBC. Before host Andrew Ross Sorkin could respond in incredulity, Happer went on to say, “Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”

Happer was introduced as an expert on climate change, despite there being no proof that he is one. When ExxonMobil donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Happer’s organization, the Marshall Institute, they probably didn’t expect him to make such haphazard comments.

Dr. Happer has been Chairman of the Board of the Marshall Institute, which, among other initiatives, has denied the threat of global climate change, and, regular readers will not be surprised, fought against stronger regulations on the tobacco industry.  Consider Dr. Happer’s credibility in light of the following.


In 1989 at the same time it began a “Climate Change Policy Program,” the Marshall Institute released a report arguing that “cyclical variations in the intensity of the sun would offset any climate change associated with elevated greenhouse gases.” Although it was refuted by the IPCC, the report was used by the Bush Sr. Administration to argue for a more lenient climate change policy.

GMI has since published a series of reports and articles that attempt to discredit mainstream climate science and undermine climate change legislation such as the Kyoto Protocol.

The Marshall Institute’s “Climate Change Policy” program was started in 1989 as a “critical examination of the scientific basis for global climate change policy.” Notably, “A major component of this effort is communicating the findings to policy makers, the media and the public policy community.” [2]

In a 2009 essay, former Executive Director Matthew B. Crawford had this to say about his initial experience with the Marshall Institute (emphasis added):

“… certain perversities became apparent as I settled into the job. It sometimes required me to reason backward, from desired conclusion to suitable premise. The organization had taken certain positions, and there were some facts it was more fond of than others. As its figurehead, I was making arguments I didn’t fully buy myself. Further, my boss seemed intent on retraining me according to a certain cognitive style — that of the corporate world, from which he had recently come. This style demanded that I project an image of rationality but not indulge too much in actual reasoning.” [3]

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Katie McKissick in Scientific American Blogs:

California is in the throes a serious drought, but driving around Los Angeles, you wouldn’t know it. Lush, green lawns. Sprinklers going off in the middle of the afternoon when much of the water will just evaporate. People using the hose to (inexplicably) clean off their sidewalk. I refer to people who maintain these habits as “water jerks.”

My backyard has grass, and when my husband and I moved in almost a year ago, we promptly stopped watering it. We haven’t yet replaced it with native plants, rocks, and other such water-saving landscape, so it’s just… yellow grass. But my dead backyard for now is proof that I care about water conservation, and I refuse to waste hundreds upon hundreds of gallons a water a month just to keep some grass green. I even bragged about it on Twitter.





If you haven’t been following these “rap battles of history”, you’re missing a fun series.

Bill Nye’s increase visibility of late has attracted the attention of the late great Sir Isaac.


Back now from a run up the California Coast, where the drought is very much in evidence.
Concurrently, in tandem with warm and dry conditions in the west,  we’ve seen a huge bubble of colder air sweep across the East. Remind you of anything?


It will be unseasonably chilly in the eastern part of the United States this week, due to a peculiar weather pattern that’s causing deep waves in the jet stream. One of those big waves is bringing cool air down from the northeast Pacific and the Arctic. This will cause nighttime temperatures to be, on average, in the 50s or 60s on Tuesday and Wednesday.

So is it the polar vortex, or isn’t it? That’s been the big debate among meteorologists and news outlets. But according to at least one scientist, that debate misses a more important point about the unusual weather pattern sweeping the United States — that it’s causing extreme weather in other parts of the country.

Dry riverbed, Northern Califorhia

Dry River bed, Northern California

“We’ve got this cool air coming down over the eastern half of the country, and that’s gonna just be kind of nice,” said Jennifer Francis, an atmospheric scientist and research professor at Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences. “But along the east coast, we’re looking at storms and floods. On the west coast, we’re looking at heat and fires. And it’s all part of this jet stream pattern.”

Read the rest of this entry »

As the drought deepens, desperate California farmers push deeper into already stressed aquifers.

Climate Central:

California is surviving the drought this summer because it is using its water “bank account” — groundwater. The problem for the state is that nobody knows how big that bank account is because California is the only Western state that doesn’t measure its groundwater, Howitt said.

About 5.5 million acre-feet of the 6.6 million acre-foot loss in surface water is made up for with groundwater pumping, which means that the state is really only feeling a water loss of about 1 million acre-feet, or enough to fill roughly 543,089 Olympic swimming pools.

But groundwater pumping comes at a cost to farmers — $454 million statewide — mainly because of the electricity required.

It’s anybody’s guess how long that use of groundwater can go on for because the state doesn’t know how much groundwater is being used, preventing the state from managing its groundwater effectively, according to the report.

“We’re like somebody who is so rich, they don’t have to balance their checkbook,” Howitt said. “We still think we’re in a groundwater-rich era.”

Report co-author and UC-Davis professor Jay Lund said more groundwater is being pumped for agriculture this year than has ever been delivered by the State Water Project in an entire year. (The Project is in charge of storing and delivering water across the state, with most water going to urban users.)

The report calls on the state of California to more effectively manage groundwater and allow it to replenish in wet years.

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Dark Snow Project Chief Scientist Dr. Jason Box was the guest on last week’s RealTime with Bill Maher.

It’s difficult to keep up with, much less steer, an interview with someone as mercurial as Bill Maher, but Dr. Box does a decent job.
He gives a good description of the “dark snow” albedo problem with Greenland ice, the basis of the first Dark Snow expedition, and there’s some nice video from the new drone now in operation on the ice.


Our science partners from the Universities of Colorado, Brighton, Derby, and Aberystwyth in Wale are all taking their turns on and gathering data on the ice.

I’ll be heading to Greenland with Dr. Box in late July, where we’ll man the Dark Snow camp for the final two weeks of this summer’s session, and then pack it up for the season.

Drone view of cook and science tents at Dark Snow Camp

We are still raising funds for last minute additions to our science and communication “kit”. If you can help out, there is yet time to jump in.

Perhaps the most surprising statement in the interview, for some viewers,  might be the “70 feet of sea level” estimate that Maher brings up.  Although no one is predicting that much sea level rise any time soon, Dr. Box correctly notes that, the current 400 parts per million level of Co2 corresponds, in the paleo record, to 20+ meters of rise.  It is the rate of rise that is all-important, and that is the driver behind this work.

The videos below discuss what the world’s leading ice experts are telling us about CO2, climate, and sea level.

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