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Associated Press:

TRUMP: “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming (sic)? Please come back fast, we need you!”

THE FACTS: While the Midwest is in the grip of a chill that’s likely to set records, Earth is still considerably warmer than it was 30 years ago and especially 100 years ago.

The lower 48 states make up only 1.6 percent of the globe and five western states are warmer than normal. The Earth as a whole — and it is global warming, not U.S. warming — on Tuesday is 0.54 degrees (0.3 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1979 to 2000 average and 1.6 degrees warmer than it was on average about 100 years ago, according to data from the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer and NASA.

“This is simply an extreme weather event and not representative of global scale temperature trends,” said Northern Illinois University climate scientist Victor Gensini, who is in the midst of some of the worst subfreezing cold. “The exact opposite is happening in Australia right now.”

Australia is broiling with triple-digit heat that is setting records opposite the Midwest. Adelaide last week was 115.9 degrees (46.6 Celsius), setting the record for the highest temperature ever set by a major Australian city.

Trump is cherry picking cold weather to ignore the larger picture of a warming planet, said John Cook, a professor of climate change communications at George Mason University.

“This myth is like arguing that nighttime proves the sun doesn’t exist,” Cook said.

Washington Post:

In Wisconsin, the governor has declared a state of emergency, and many school districts called off classes ahead of a bone-chilling week of weather. The looming deep freeze led to federal court closures in Chicago and shut down the Lincoln Park Zoo — though polar bears will still be allowed outside. Flights were grounded. Amtrak canceled trains running in parts of the Midwest. Utility companies scrambled 24-hour response teams, because as one executive told The Post, “In these kinds of events, people just cannot be out of power.”

As millions of people across the nation braced for a possibly life-threatening cold snap, President Trump late Monday used the opportunity to mock the idea that climate change is actually happening, while misspelling the word “warming.”

“In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder,” Trump tweeted. “People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!”

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I’ve weighed in on the “methane bomb” topic before – but for this video I was fortunate to catch up with some key experts at December’s American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting.

Katey Walter Anthony is well known for the series of “flaming lake” videos that she and her students produced in past years, illustrating methane production in arctic lakes.

I understand U. of Alaska higher ups have some concerns about safety and have asked the kids to tone it down.

I also talked to Ben Abbott, who got his PhD studying permafrost at UA Fairbanks – and is now at Brigham Young. Ben is a terrific communicator that I’ve followed since he was a grad student years ago.

Ben told me about a young woman who contacted him with questions about the “Arctic Methane Bomb” – Juliana Musheyev had, like a number of folks, I suspect, gotten completely consumed with the conspiratorial disaster porn of the Methane bomb crowd (“imminent human extinction”).
To her credit, Musheyev actually did real research in the literature, including contacting experts like Ben.  Her questions lead her to research by Carolyn Ruppel – who has been leader of the USGS Gas Hydrates project, and is one of the foremost experts globally on the topic.  I’ve interviewed Dr. Ruppel by Skype before, and was delighted to meet her in person last month.

She has a lot to say, some of which is in the vid, and more of which I’ll be posting here very soon.

 

Appropriate for today.

A lot of Americans are getting it that weather is becoming more severe due to climate change.
Marketers have noticed – and they want customers to know they understand.

And make sure those hands have gloves.

Winter is Warming. Really.

January 28, 2019

First make sure you have your long johns and wool socks ready – if you are in the upper midwest United States, we’re in for a cold snap.
The polar vortex is at it again, and we’ve discussed how that’s related to climate change. ( see above for what it’s doing today – Monday, 1/28/19) Note the freight train of cold air coming down from the Canadian Archipelago onto the upper midwest.

But the bigger picture is warmer winters. Climate Central has a nice tool to look at temp records in your city – but if you want confirmation, ask your local ski resort operator.

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Climate Central:

A mid-winter cold snap has hit much of the country, but these episodes are becoming less frequent with climate change. Low temperatures and ample snowfall are a must for winter recreation — an industry that contributed more than $20 billion to the national economy in the 2015-2016 season. These conditions are under threat from warming winters, according to a new report from Climate Central.

Warming is affecting regional snowfall patterns differently,  but from the 1970s to 2010s, 57 of the 107 analyzed weather stations saw the average annual snowfall trend downward by at least an inch. The biggest losers were Flagstaff, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Casper, Wyoming — all historically snowy Western cities that are getting drieroverall. Since the 1970s, annual snowfall has dropped by a total of 48, 31, and 29 inches in those cities, respectively.

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Click for Larger

However, warming of the Great Lakes has hindered ice formation and increased the evaporation that fuels lake effect snow. Annual snowfall totals in Marquette, Michigan; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Youngstown, Ohio have climbed by respective totals of 68, 33, and 30 inches in the last half-century. Trends have also climbed more than 10 inches in Northeastern cities like Philadelphia, Boston, and New York, as a warmer atmosphere leads to more heavy precipitation events where it is still cold enough to support snow. Still, future warming will mean fewer days below freezing and more rain than snow, as shown in our 2016 report, “Meltdown.”

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Lake Superior on January 21, 2019.  As the Great Lakes are more often ice free in wintertime, increased evaporation can lead to Lake Effect snowfalls across the upper midwest. Click image for larger.

Snow-friendly temperatures are declining across the country. In the last half-century, winters have warmed by more than 2°F in 78 percent of the 244 cities analyzed. Seventeen cities have warmed by more than 5°F, led by a 7°F increase in Burlington, Vermont. And according to Climate Impact Lab, every state in the contiguous U.S. will see fewer days with below-freezing lows by midcentury, shortening winter recreation seasons.

Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions would limit these effects. In Colorado, the nation’s top winter sports economy, unchecked emissions would cause 34 fewer below-freezing days per year by the 2040-2059 period, compared to the 1981-2010 average. But if the world meets its Paris Agreement pledges to reduce emissions, Colorado could save 8 snow-friendly days per year. For the state’s 43,000 winter recreation jobs, a salvaged week could make a major difference.

Deniers often get confused about the physics of snow.

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Is AMOC Running Amuck?

January 28, 2019

Stefan Rahmstorf in RealClimate:

Last year, twenty thousand peer reviewed studies on ‘climate change’ were published. No single person can keep track of all those – you’d have to read 55 papers every single day. (And, by the way, that huge mass of publications is why climate deniers will always find something to cherry-pick that suits their agenda.) That is why climate assessments are so important, where a lot of scientists pool their expertise and discuss and assess and summarize the state of the art.

So let us have a quick look what last year’s climate assessments say about the much-discussed topic of whether the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC, a.k.a. Gulf Stream System) has already slowed down, as predicted by climate models in response to global warming.

First, there is the IPCC 1.5 °C report (SR15) prepared for the Paris Climate Agreement and published in September 2018. It doesn’t say all that much about the AMOC, given that it is not a full IPCC assessment, but it does say this:

It is more likely than not that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) has been weakening  in recent decades, given the detection of the cooling of surface waters in the north Atlantic and evidence that  the Gulf Stream has slowed by 30% since the late 1950s (Srokosz and Bryden, 2015; Caesar et al., 2018).  There is only limited evidence linking the current anomalously week state of AMOC to anthropogenic warming (Caesar et al., 2018). It is very likely that the AMOC will weaken over the 21 st century. […]

Weakening of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is projected to be highly disruptive to natural and human systems as the delivery of heat to higher latitudes via this current system is reduced.

Then, in November, the 4th US National Climate Assessment was published that had been two years in the making. It says:

The primary concern related to ocean circu­lation is the potential slowing of the Atlantic Ocean Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). An AMOC slowdown would affect poleward heat transport, regional climate, sea level rise along the East Coast of the United States, and the overall response of the Earth’s climate system to human-induced change. […]

As the atmosphere warms, surface waters entering the North Atlantic may release less heat and become diluted by increased freshwater melt from Greenland and Northern Hemisphere glaciers. Both of these factors would slow the rate of sinking and weaken the entire AMOC.

Though observational data have been insuffi­cient to determine if a long-term slowdown in the AMOC began during the 20th century, one recent study quantifies a 15% weakening since the mid-20th century and another, a weakening over the last 150 years. Over the next few decades, however, it is very likely that the AMOC will weaken.

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Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis:

Only one day after the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected that coal’s decline will slow, gas will dominate the future energy mix and that wind will peter out after the PTC ends, one of the nation’s largest and arguably its most successful power companies has a very different forecast for the future.

In NextEra Energy’s fourth quarter results call, CEO Jim Robo dropped another bombshell, with his statement that solar and wind plus storage will be cheaper than coal, oil or nuclear, that this will be “massively disruptive to the conventional fleet” and that it will provide opportunities for developers well through the next decade.

Robo’s exact math is that even after the federal tax credits expire, wind will be 2 – 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, large-scale solar will be 2.5 – 3 cents, and storage will add .5 – 1 cent. This would put these resources slightly below the current cost of natural gas-fired generation, without the uncertainty around fuel prices that is inherent to gas.

These comments came as NextEra announced a strong fourth quarter and full year 2018, including growing renewable energy development. NextEra Energy Resources, the company’s competitive power arm, put 326 MW of solar online, including 125 MW of distributed generation. This represents a more than 50% growth on 2017 installation levels, but the company is just getting started.

NextEra already holds contracts for 1,773 MW of solar projects expected to come online in 2019 and 2020. Underlying the uncertainty around project development, it says that it could put anywhere from around 900 MW to 3.3 GW online over the next two years. Beyond that, NextEra also has 1,521 MW of solar projects which are slated to come online after 2020.

The company’s energy storage development is also growing. While the company’s 37 MW of deployments in 2018 was only 23% larger than 2017, NextEra also has 50 MW of batteries planned for 2019-2020, and 415 in the post-2020 timeframe.