The Daily Californian:

A week after declaring a drought emergency, Gov. Jerry Brown called California’s current drought “a stark warning of things to come” in his State of the State address Wednesday.

Brown’s emergency drought proclamation follows the beginning of the state’s third consecutive year of severely dry conditions, which could be the driest year California has seen in almost 500 years, according to B. Lynn Ingram, a UC Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science.

Despite Brown’s request for all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 20 percent, Ingram, who researches climate change, believes increased water prices or usage restrictions ought to be implemented to ensure a change in individual behavior.

“It’s almost like the tragedy of the commons,” Ingram said. “People don’t often respond individually when it comes to the conservation of a common resource unless you have some sort of regulation.”

So far, the East Bay Municipal Utilities District, which provides drinking water for 1.3 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, has not implemented water restrictions or increased its prices in response to the drought, according to Andrea Pook, an EBMUD spokesperson.

EBMUD has not declared a water shortage emergency based on its reservoir levels, which are 63 percent full in total, a level that is considered just below average.

“Although our reservoirs aren’t at alarming levels, what is alarming to us is the amount of precipitation we would normally receive,” Pook said. “In our rain and snow levels, we’re not seeing anything close to normal.”

Jeff Masters at Weather Underground:

If you’re wondering where California’s missing precipitation has been going, look northwards to the south and southeast coasts of Alaska.

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Fox News cares about clean water, for themselves and their babies. As for anyone else,  let them drink Kool Aid.

Al Jazeera:

Many West Virginians don’t blame the coal industry for the spill of a coal-processing chemical that has tainted the water of 300,000 people around Charleston, the state capital.

Indeed, some of those who live in parts of coal country — much of which is suffering from decades-long legacies of mining pollution — say coal is the state’s only hope for employment and progress.

To the outside observer, mining can look like a blight on the Mountain State, not a blessing, with dozens of white and gray scars of blown-off green mountaintops across southern West Virginia visible in satellite images from miles above.

But the feeling on the ground can be very different.

“This is just a freak accident with the water thing, in my opinion,” said Timothy McKinney, 30, a laid-off coal miner in Prenter, W.Va. “I’ve been in coal mining since I was out of high school, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the coal industry in general.”

McKinney said he is upset with the chemical company responsible for the spill, which was one of the most dramatic environmental disasters in recent memory in the area and the cause of national headlines.

He says Freedom Industries should have had better safety measures in place, including multiple walls of containment, to stop the accident. He said that would have halted the leak into the Elk River, which made his family’s water undrinkable for days and emitted a pungent, licorice odor into their homes.

McKinney said reports of rashes due to the contaminated water were “all over Facebook” in his community. But he didn’t connect the coal-processing chemical spill with the coal industry as a whole.
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Dr. Richard “Ricky” Rood is a Professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences.

He’s been writing regular posts on Dr. Jeff Master’s Weather Underground site for some time. Recently Dr. Rood has posted some insightful and informative explanations of the Arctic Oscillaton and the now-famous “Polar Vortex” phenomena that has become a media buzzword in the wake of a severe cold snap, and has returned with a vengeance this week.

In early December of 2013, Dr. Rood described the process in the post below, and, at the end, accurately predicted the cold wave that hit the Eastern US a few weeks later.  I’ll be posting selections from his series this week as we shiver thru the arctic blast.

roodDr. Ricky Rood in Weather Underground:

I’ve been living with this cold weather in Colorado this week. If you look around at the Wunderground personal weather station sites, we’ve seen a lot of about -10 F at nights. It’s been causing a lot of grief for homeless people, animals and pipes. There have been a few record lows set. The whole Arctic air mass is starting to move east, which means it will get a lot more press. According to Jeff Master’s blog 80% of the country will be below average.

I thought I had finished my series of blogs on the Arctic Oscillation a couple of weeks ago, but this cold air out break takes me back. It that series I wrote about cold air in the Arctic that is isolated because of barriers caused by streams of rapidly moving air that flows around polar latitudes. I described wobbles in the streams that caused cold air to move south and warm air to move north. Here is one of the figures that I used.

Figure 1: This figure is from the point of view of someone looking down from above at the North Pole (NP). This represents a weak, wavy, wobbly vortex displaced from the pole. The vortex encloses cold air, represented as blue. The line surrounding the cold air is the jet stream or the edge of the vortex. This is the weak vortex case, when there is a large wobble. In this case, the point X is cold and the point Y is warm. In a case of a stronger, more circular vortex, then the case would be reversed, with point X warm and point Y cold. (definition of vortex)

Here is a figure from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), that I have marked up a bit. The colors are the temperatures at the 850 hecto-Pascal surface, which is about 1.5 kilometers above the surface. The 850 hecto-Pascal temperatures are a good indicator of where it is hot and cold at the surface.

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sunteaI’ve posted about the awakening of a renewable energy movement among Republicans and Tea Party conservatives.  Even the New York Times is now recognizing this new reality – which is picking up steam..

New York Times:

…solar power is fast becoming one of the fracture lines dividing the conservative movement’s corporate and libertarian sides. The American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, which helps pro-business Republicans across the country write legislation, has successfully urged several states to fight federal mandates for adopting renewable energy like solar power. This month, it published a resolution calling for states to “require that everyone who uses the grid helps pay to maintain it and to keep it operating reliably at all times.”

To Mr. Goldwater (Jr., son of conservative 1964 Presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater), the true conservative path lies elsewhere. “Utilities are working off of a business plan that’s 100 years old,” he said in an interview, “kind of like the typewriter and the bookstore.” On the website for his campaign, Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed, Mr. Goldwater, a former congressman, says, “Republicans want the freedom to make the best choice.”

dontread

He says conservatives are the original environmentalists, especially in the West. “They came out here and fell in love with the land,” he said, and added that his father used to tell him, “There’s more decency in one pine tree than you’ll find in most people.”

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Alaska Kenai Peninsula, January — 60 F

Photos: A.M.Mueller.
Date Taken: January 25th 2014
Location:  Skilak Lake, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

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“Normally” this is covered in snow and Skilak Lake is frozen. The lake is still completely open and may not freeze at all this winter.

Accuweather:

The weather pattern favoring relentless cold in the Eastern states and prolonged warmth in the West will continue through the end of January.

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Climate Science Watch:

Defendants Competitive Enterprise Institute and Rand Simberg have appealed Judge Weisberg’s denial of their motion to dismiss. One effect of this latest move is to further delay movement to the discovery phase of the lawsuit.

Accusing a scientist of conducting his research fraudulently is a factual allegation that can be proven true or false, not mere hyperbolic opinionating. If it is false it is defamatory, and if it is made with actual malice it is actionable. So said DC Superior Court Frederick Weisberg on January 22 in tossing out motions by defendants National Review et al. to dismiss Prof. Michael Mann’s defamation complaint — thus moving the case a step toward discovery proceedings and a jury trial.

But the defendants lost no time in filing an appeal on January 24 with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Presumably they and their supporters will argue that this appeal raises a necessary and appropriate freedom of speech issue that must be adjudicated up-front. And of course people will note that defendants would presumably prefer to cut down on their legal costs (while hopefully getting the case dismissed). OK.

On the other hand, it seems that it’s the defendants’ side of the case that is most reluctant to get on to the discovery phase. This might strike one as odd, since the defendants’ support subculture seems to think Prof. Mann’s case will be torn to pieces on discovery and that National Review and CEI will be able to demonstrate ‘truth’ as their defense on the defamation charge. Several commenters on previous posts on this case have taken that position.

CEI has taken what might be called a prosecutorial stance toward climate science and climate scientists for many years, in the service of its radical ‘free market’ anti-regulatory ideology. Myron Ebell at CEI was quoted in a BBC article in 2005 as saying, in connection with Rep. Joe Barton’s congressional inquisition on Mann and his paleoclimatologist colleagues, “We’ve always wanted to get the science on trial” and “we would like to figure out a way to get this into a court of law.” [emphasis added]

So here’s your chance.

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I’ve posted this past week on Judith Curry’s somewhat flawed testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The blogger Tamino, who posts at Open Mind blog, is well known for his tenacious and fine grained analysis of arguments from a statistical POV. He has posted twice this week on Curry’s testimony, both of which I repost here – which makes for a long, challenging, but worthwhile read, so get coffee. Both posts have bearing on some of the more active discussions we’ve had on this forum.

Open Mind, Post 1, “True Lies”:

I’ve read the written testimony from Judith Curry before a recent meeting of the Environment and Public Works committee of the U.S. Senate. There’s plenty of stuff that gobsmacked me, but let me tell you what astounded me most on my very first reading.

It’s this:

Global sea level has been rising for the past several thousand years. The key issue is whether the rate of sea level rise is accelerating owing to anthropogenic global warming.

I almost can’t believe that she actually said that.
Let me repeat: I almost can’t believe she actually said that. To a U.S. Senate committee.

There’s considerable evidence that sea level has risen over the last few thousand years. Some of you may be familiar with this graph (from Wikipedia, prepared by Robert Rohde of the “Berkeley team” of which Curry is a member):

It shows sea level estimates throughout the holocene (since 9000 years ago). It seems to me that these data don’t make it certain, but do make it very likely sea level has risen (or at least, not fallen) throughout the holocene. But what’s really important is that it enables us to set some limits on how fast sea level has risen in that time.

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So Much for Global Warming

January 25, 2014

From xkcd.com

You see the same pattern all over. Take Detroit--' 'Hold on. Why do you know all these statistics offhand?' 'Oh, um, no idea. I definitely spend my evenings hanging out with friends, and not curating a REALLY NEAT database of temperature statistics. Because, pshh, who would want to do that, right? Also, snowfall records.'"