Guardian:

Greenland’s vast ice sheet is undergoing a surge in melting, with the amount of ice vanishing in a single day this week enough to cover the whole of Florida in two inches of water, researchers have found.

The burst of melting has reached deep into Greenland’s enormous icy interior, with data from the Danish government showing that the ice sheet lost 8.5bn tons of surface mass on Tuesday alone. A further 8.4bn tons was lost on Thursday, the Polar Portal monitoring website reported.

The scale of disappearing ice is so large that the losses on Tuesday alone created enough meltwater that it would drown the entire US state of Florida in two inches, or 5cm, of water. Ice that melts away in Greenland flows as water into the ocean, where it adds to the ongoing increase in global sea level caused by human-induced climate change.

“It’s a very high level of melting and it will probably change the face of Greenland because it will be a very strong driver for an acceleration of future melting, and therefore sea-level rise,” said Marco Tedesco, a glacier expert at Columbia University and adjunct scientist at Nasa.

Tedesco said a patch of high pressure is sucking and holding warmer air from further south “like a vacuum cleaner” and holding it over eastern Greenland, causing an all-time record temperature of 19.8C in the region on Wednesday. As seasonal snow melts away, darker core ice is exposed, which then melts and adds to sea level rise.

“We had these sort of atmospheric events in the past but they are now getting longer and more frequent,” Tedesco said.

“The snow is like a protective blanket so once that’s gone you get locked into faster and faster melting, so who knows what will happen with the melting now. It’s amazing to see how vulnerable these huge, giant areas of ice are. I’m astonished at how powerful the forces acting on them are.”

Flattened corn in Iowa following a strong Derecho storm

Make popcorn and get in the basement.

Bob Henson in Yale Climate Connections:

One or more clusters of severe thunderstorms are expected to plow from eastern Minnesota to southern Michigan late Wednesday, July 28. Tornadoes and large hail are possible, but the biggest concern is for a corridor of intense straight-line winds – perhaps with gusts above 75 mph – that could cause widespread havoc.

If conditions come together, Wednesday’s event could be powerful enough to qualify as a derecho, a type of thunderstorm-based windstorm that can persist for hours and cause serious destruction. The nation’s last major derecho, which ripped across 770 miles in 14 hours with winds topping 100 mph on August 10, 2020, ruined half of the entire tree canopy of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and left $11.5 billion in damage.

The corridor at greater risk for damaging wind includes the heart of Wisconsin, extending southeast to Lake Michigan by late evening. “Really concerned from Appleton and south and west at this point. Bad timing coming in late evening,” tweeted Luke Sampe, a broadcast meteorologist at WFRV in Green Bay.

It’s much easier to identify the situations that look ripe for a derecho than to predict their outcome with certainty. Even just hours in advance, some derecho-favorable setups fail to produce. 

However, Wednesday’s event appears to have the key ingredients needed for widespread damaging wind. The factors in play include very hot, moist air just south of a surface frontal system and overtopped by a strong jet stream. This setup allows for powerful upper-level winds to descend through a thunderstorm complex and propel it forward at close to highway speeds.

Before Wednesday’s storms congeal into the expected wind-producing complex, tornadic supercell thunderstorms may erupt. Underlying this threat is a dangerous blend of high instability (1500 to 2500 J/kg); strong vertical wind shear (45 to 55 knots); and strong helicity, which helps thunderstorms to rotate. High surface humidity means that any thunderstorms will tend to have a low cloud base, which would also support tornadoes. The highest chance of early-evening supercells will be in east central Minnesota (north of Minneapolis) into northwest Wisconsin.

Mesoscale (regional) computer models were increasingly pointing toward the risk of a derecho at midday Wednesday, July 28. The 12Z run of the high-resolution 3-kilometer NAM model showed pockets of hurricane-force wind at 850 millibars (about a mile above the surface) in association with a storm complex tearing from northwest to southeast across Wisconsin between about 7 p.m. and midnight CDT.

Severe weather may still be possible as storms continue into northeast Illinois, northern Indiana, and southern Michigan well after midnight.

Above, exchange between Rep. Jamie Raskin and Rep. Andrew Clyde.
Rep. Clyde famously characterized the January 6 insurrection as a visit by “tourists”.

I decided to look up his position on climate change.

You won’t be surprised. Denial is a blunt psychological defense mechanism.

Atlanta Journal Constitution:

2. What should Congress do, if anything, to address concerns about climate change?

Clyde: It is not the federal government’s responsibility to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, or any aspect of our environment for that matter. The (Environmental Protection Agency) is an unconstitutional agency and should be dissolved. Climate change is fake news.

We’re a decade removed from the video above, which looks at the vulnerability of food supplies to climate impacts – but the “CO2 is Plant Food” crock remains a hardy perennial.

The video is a reminder of the massive failure of the Russian grain crop in 2010 – leading to a ban on exports, which, along with failures in Argentina and Australia, lead to a spike in food prices across vulnerable states in Northern Africa, and the “Arab Spring” uprisings – aftershocks still being felt.

Meanwhile, in the US West, those farmers looking at parched fields are probably not thinking, “Gee, I wish I had some more carbon dioxide…”

Bloomberg:

Extreme weather is slamming crops across the globe, bringing with it the threat of further food inflation at a time costs are already hovering near the highest in a decade and hunger is on the rise.

Brazil’s worst frost in two decades brought a deadly blow to young coffee trees in the world’s biggest grower. Flooding in China’s key pork region inundated farms and raised the threat of animal disease. Scorching heat and drought crushed crops on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. And in Europe, torrential rains sparked the risk of fungal diseases for grains and stalled tractors in soaked fields.

Coffee’s the biggest recent mover, with prices surging 17% this week week and topping $2 a pound for the first time since 2014. But the recent frost in Brazil is just the latest example of woes that have struck farmers there this year. Brazil’s also experiencing a crippling drought that depleted reservoirs needed for irrigation.

The series of misfortunes underscores what scientists have been warning about for years: Climate change and its associated weather volatility will make it increasingly harder to produce enough food for the world, with the poorest nations typically feeling the hardest blow. In some cases, social and political unrest follows.

“Things that are happening in one part of the world end up impacting all of us,” said Agnes Kalibata, a United Nations special envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit and Rwanda’s former agriculture minister. “We’ve underestimated as a world is just how frequently” weather would start to have serious impacts.

“Some communities are already living through the nightmares of climate change,” Kalibata said.

The Food Price Index from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization rose for 12 consecutive months through May before easing in June to 124.6 points, still up 34% from a year earlier. The index measures international prices of a basket of food commodities.

No other industry is more at the mercy of sun, rain and heat than agriculture, where changes in the weather can upend a farmer’s fortunes overnight. It’s also an industry that’s become extremely globalized and concentrated, creating a precarious situation where an extreme weather event in one place is bound to have ripples everywhere.

Brazil, for example, is the world’s biggest shipper of sugar and orange juice and a key producer of corn and soybeans. It accounts for about 40% of the world’s harvest for arabica coffee, the smooth variety that shows up in your Starbucks cup.

“There’s no other country in the world that has that kind of influence on the world market conditions — what happens in Brazil affects everyone,” said Michael Sheridan, director of sourcing and shared value at Intelligentsia Coffee, a Chicago-based roaster and retailer. 

What’s unique right now is that extreme weather seems to be pounding almost every region of the globe.

Think of climate denial as that patient who just got out of intensive care from Covid, and still doesn’t want the vaccine “crammed down his throat”.

Politico:

A week ago, three lawmakers from the Northwest joined dozens of their Republican colleagues in creating the new Conservative Climate Caucus to show they were serious about addressing the growing threats to the planet.

Then they went silent as a devastating heat wave hit the region.

The trio — Reps. Cliff Bentz of Oregon and Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state — have been largely invisible as the heat wave shattered temperature records, melted streetcar power cables and caused rolling blackouts, all the symptoms of a warming climate that scientists say will only become more common in the future.

For conservatives outside of government who are anxious to see some congressional action to combat climate change, it’s simply a sign that Republicans haven’t fully recognized the threat.

“Conservatives are learning to think differently about climate change but they don’t yet know what to think,” said Alex Flint, executive director of Alliance for Market Solutions, an organization of conservatives seeking market-friendly climate policies. “Despite this new approach, many conservatives are not yet comfortable with the scale of the policy needed to address climate change,” he added.

Much like past GOP responses to hurricanes, floods and other climate-linked calamities, the Northwest Republicans’ lack of responses to the heat wave raise questions about whether even deadly consequences in their home districts can dislodge Republican lawmakers from their usual stances and talking points on global warming.

And at least one, McMorris Rodgers, is also continuing to lambaste Democrats’ and President Joe Biden’s climate proposals as too expensive and grandiose in what she slammed Tuesday as the “left’s ‘rush to green’ agenda.”

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Meanwhile, in Siberia

July 27, 2021

Nuclear plants have historically been shown vulnerable to extreme heat and cold. Continuing climate changes are bringing other obstacles. (Jellyfish anyone?)

Although the percentage increase in outages is small in absolute terms, it seems obvious that those outages will be occurring at the times when the nuclear output is most needed – as seen in this past winter’s Texas blackout.

Ars Technica:

With extreme weather causing power failures in California and Texas, it’s increasingly clear that the existing power infrastructure isn’t designed for these new conditions. Past research has shown that nuclear power plants are no exception, with rising temperatures creating cooling problems for them. Now, a comprehensive analysis looking at a broader range of climate events shows that it’s not just hot weather that puts these plants at risk—it’s the full range of climate disturbances.

Heat has been one of the most direct threats, as higher temperatures mean that the natural cooling sources (rivers, oceans, lakes) are becoming less efficient heat sinks. However, this new analysis shows that hurricanes and typhoons have become the leading causes of nuclear outages, at least in North America and South and East Asia. Precautionary shutdowns for storms are routine, and so this finding is perhaps not so surprising. But other factors—like the clogging of cooling intake pipes by unusually abundant jellyfish populations—are a bit less obvious.

Overall this latest analysis calculates that the frequency of climate-related nuclear plant outages is almost eight times higher than it was in the 1990s. The analysis also estimates that the global nuclear fleet will lose up 1.4 percent—about 36 TWh—of its energy production in the next 40 years, and up to 2.4 percent, or 61 TWh, by 2081-2100.

The author analyzed publicly available databases from the International Atomic Energy Agency to identify all climate-linked shutdowns (partial and complete) of the world’s 408 operational reactors. Unplanned outages are generally very well documented, and available data made it possible to calculate trends in the frequency of outages that were linked to environmental causes over the past 30 years. The author also used more detailed data from the last decade (2010 – 2019) to provide one of the first analyses of which types of climate events have had the most impact on nuclear power.

While the paper doesn’t directly link the reported events to climate change, the findings do show an overall increase in the number of outages due to a range of climate events.

The two main categories of climate disruptions broke down into thermal disruptions (heat, drought, and wildfire) and storms (including hurricanes, typhoons, lightning, and flooding). In the case of heat and drought, the main problem is the lack of cool enough water—or in the case of drought, enough water at all—to cool the reactor. However, there were also a number of outages due to ecological responses to warmer weather; for example, larger than usual jellyfish populations have blocked the intake pipes on some reactors.

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It’s all one big science denial piece.
The Venn diagram of anti-vaxxers and climate deniers would, I suspect have large overlap, so worth examining.

I rarely argue with climate deniers any more, as I figure at this point they’ll get it soon enough. But experience with Covid – examples in the video – suggest that there would be climate deniers sheltering in the last bit of blasted rubble of a ruined civilization, if we let it go that far

My video on the deep cost of the massively funded anti-rational movement is still in YouTube jail, but still worth a look if you jump thru the hoops.

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For my upcoming Yale Climate Connections video I interviewed half a dozen of the most essential water experts in the US. It will be a pretty good 6 minute distillation of what we know about the current water crisis.
I’ll also be releasing a number of shorts with each scientist to give a deeper dive into what they told me.

For now, we have this from California Governor Gavin Newsom. A+ Communication.


We are turning a serious corner in the magnitude of climate impacts.

Canary Media:

Form Energy finally lifted the veil of secrecy over its technology that purports to store clean electricity for days on end.

The startup revealed Thursday that it is building iron-air batteries, a technology that has been studied for decades but never commercialized for grid storage. The announcement coincided with a profile in the Wall Street Journal and a $200 million Series D raise led by global steel and mining giant ArcelorMittal.

“We felt that we had made enough progress that it was relevant to talk about,” Form CEO Mateo Jaramillo told Canary Media Thursday.

The company had filed for the patents it needed to secure its intellectual property, he added. And when news broke that a steel company, which sources massive amounts of iron, was taking a stake in Form, some people probably could have connected the dots.

The revelation ended a period of speculation about Form, launched as a sort of energy storage supergroup in 2017. Jaramillo built Tesla’s energy storage business before joining forces with MIT battery expert Yet-Ming Chiang. Along with co-founders Billy Woodford, Ted Wiley, and Marco Ferrara, they systematically examined every material that stores electricity to see if it could reach very low costs for very long durations. 

Lithium-ion batteries cost-effectively store power for several hours today, making them useful for shifting solar production into the evening hours. Other startupsliberally claim the long-duration moniker for durations of six hours, eight hours, 12 hours, or whatever else they offer. 

Form wants to store clean power and deliver it over 100 hours or more, which would constitute a whole new type of power plant. Jaramillo describes it as competing with gas plants, not batteries.

After all the buildup, iron isn’t the most dramatic substance to reveal. But that’s kind of the point, Jaramillo said.

“Boring is what scales,” he explained. “We can’t be infatuated with exotic things for [their own sake]. We can only be concerned with and working on relevant technologies with relevant timeframes.”

Now the question is whether Form’s iron-air battery can succeed where similar efforts have failed to achieve the stunning low costs necessary to deliver that vision. And will there be a market for it, if that happens?

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