Storms of My Grandchildren Rising: Hurricane Amanda Sets Record as Strongest Eastern Pacific Ocean Cyclone in May

Category 5. Only the most powerful of the most powerful storms on Earth reach this ominous peak. It’s a designation that occurs when hurricanes achieve a highly destructive wind strength greater than 156 mph. Usually relegated to late season storms that form and strengthen when the ocean surface temperature is at its hottest, it is a very, very, very rare event to see any storm approach Cat 5 status at the start of hurricane season.

Water temperatures are typically not high enough to support such a monster event so early.

But this Sunday, just six months after the Western Pacific spawned Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful storm ever to strike the land, the three-day-old hurricane Amanda raged to just shy of Cat 5 status in the Eastern Pacific. Peaking at a maximum sustained wind speed of 155 mph, the storm teetered at the edge of highest intensity category even as it roared its way into the record books as the mightiest storm ever recorded for this region of the world in May.

Hurricane Amanda May 25

(Hurricane Amanda at strong Category 4 status on May 25. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

By comparison, the storm Amanda beat out, Adolph, was also a rather recent event, forming on May 25 of 20o1 and reaching a peak intensity of 145 mph on May 29th.

Hot, Deep Water

Hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific starts on May 15. Amanda began to gather just four days after, as a tropical disturbance, on May 19th. The storm gradually gained strength as it drifted north and west into extraordinarily warm waters that ranged from 1 to 3.6 C above typical temperatures for this time of year. By Sunday, May 25, the storm had exploded to just shy of category five status.

Extreme heat intensity fueling Amanda came from a Pacific Ocean exploding with warmth. The equatorial Pacific was just tipping into the hot ocean surface event that is El Nino even as overall Pacific anomalies ranged near 0.8 C above the, already hotter than normal, 1979 to 2000 average. The net result was that Amanda was fueled by sea surface temperatures in the range of 27 to 30 degrees Celsuis with hurricane-supporting warmth pushing as far as 50 meters into the depths. As a result, cool ocean water upwelling through Ekman pumping had far less effect on this storm than is typical for early in the season when the sun’s rays usually have not pushed warmth so deep.

Ocean surface anomaly May 28

(Today’s ocean surface temperature anomaly at +1.13 C on May 28th. Global Ocean surface temperature anomalies have been in the record range of +1 C above 1979-2000 values all throughout May. Hot ocean surface temperatures of this kind is hyperfuel for hurricanes. It is no accident that the record storm that was Amanda formed in the visible hot pool off the west coast of Mexico. Image source: University of Maine.)

Hurricanes are nothing if not ocean heat and moisture engines. The storms feed on hot air rising off the ocean surface, and their cyclonic action churns the waters below them eventually limiting their intensity as the strongest storms dredge into cooler waters. But with human warming, both the ocean surface as well as the waters far below show ever increasing heat potentials. This heat is nothing if not high-efficiency energy for oceanic, warm core cyclones.

Global Warming Heat Engine — Lengthens Storm Season, Generates More Powerful Cyclones

Amanda’s anomalous intensity was, thus, no accident. Instead, it was directly related to the extreme ocean heating that is an attribute of human-caused warming. The danger here is not only for more intense storms and for more intense storms coming earlier and earlier in the year, it is also for a general lengthening of the period during which these powerful storms emerge. The risk, therefore, is that hurricane season will extend deeper into the Spring and further into Fall for both the Eastern Pacific and the Atlantic. And during this ever-growing storm year the higher heat values increase the likelihood of monster storms reaching and exceeding category five strength.

The currently explosive Western Pacific may well foreshadow events for other regions of the world. That volatile storm zone already sees some seasons featuring year-round hurricanes and tropical storms. And the already intense cycle there is also likely to strengthen as the oceans continue to warm.


Dr. Jeff Masters: Amanda Peaks as Strongest May Pacific Cyclone on Record


Abnormally Hot Pacific Ocean Explodes Haiyan into 195 mph Monster

University of Maine




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  1. pintada

     /  May 29, 2014

    Every once in a while an article or two will peak my interest. The two below have done that and I was wondering if anyone gets the same impression.

    The first paper is something that Ugo Bardi has been talking about. He calls it the “NASA funded study”. My reading is that – and of course i’m simplifying here – a complex civilization, as defined by Tainter (1988), can be saved or maintained if (and only if) the people in charge are willing to take the reasonable actions. Specifically, they must act to bring the empires projects and functions in line with its current means while confronting rationally the issue du jour.

    This paper from Princeton shows that – again simplifying – we live in an Oligarchy. From the paper, “Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power of policy decisions; they have little or no independent influence on policy at all.” and “Interest group alignments are almost totally unrelated to the preferences of average citizens. Moreover, there is no indication that officials’ anticipation of reactions from “potential groups” brings policies in line with what citizens want. (i.e. don’t count on the Sierra Club)

    So, the protests (for example) fall on deaf ears for two reasons:
    1. In this time of extremely decisive politics, the democrats will vote for a democratic candidate regardless of what he actually does, and will never vote for a Republican. Thus, the politician has no fear of retribution.
    2. The politician is bought and paid for from the starting gate, so point one is moot.

    So, putting the two papers together, if anyone is to solve the AGW problem and prevent the collapse of this civilization, it will be the elites and corporations that will need to call for action. Private citizens don’t matter. How does one get Walmart (and the Walton’s) to care? If they think about AGW at all it is probably in terms of enjoying a beach resort on the North coast of Greenland in the near future.

    These two papers make it crystal clear what is happening, and that we (the 99%) can do Jack squat to fix it. I say, let Guy McPherson travel all he wants.

    • If I were Guy, I’d advocate for carbon neutral biodiesel based jet fuel.

    • If every person in the 99% stood up to be counted, no force could resist them. It is the docile sheepish herd following nature of people that makes them so easily controlled and pacified even as things start to break down.

      But I argue that an individual – and certainly a small group – can still do significant things even without cooperation from the bulk of the populace.

      So for anyone who thinks they can justify inaction on account of everyone else (a self fulfilling prophecy…), why aren’t you acting in areas where an individual or small group can still have an impact?

      • Exactly. Push for policy change, act individually. In my opinion, that’s a potent combination.

      • mikkel

         /  May 29, 2014

        You definitely don’t need 99%. History shows that 20-30% is enough if they are willing to put their livelihoods on the line. If a good portion of those that care about climate change staged general strikes and refused to pay their debts then the elite would change their tunes quickly.

        The problem is that most do not have the basic skills to survive outside of wage slavery.

        • True enough and maybe even less than 20-30% as most people tend to just sit on the sidelines (including in civil wars).

          It’s not just a question of lacking those skills though, but also lacking opportunities. I know how to grow my own food – but I cannot afford land upon which to do it. Supposing I couldn’t hunt or fish in the event of civilisational failure – what does that leave me? Does it not leave only violence or starvation?

        • Civilization failure is deadly even to those who have both skills and resources. The problem is that large groups resort to looting out of desperation. In the current situation the potential size of such groups is astronomical.

          Group action and pooling of resources can help fill gaps if positive cooperation can be achieved. If you don’t have land to farm, find someone who does and trade goods from what you hunt.

          Wage earners are only in a slave-like condition if they live in a nation without effective equality policy.

        • That would be anywhere I’ve been then… inequality seems almost a constant in the places I’ve been.

          That is the problem – the looting – and it’s also why farming may well be problematic in the worst part of collapse, at least near population centres. Likewise there aren’t that many areas where hunting will be viable – again – anywhere near population centres can probably be written off.

          All that said, I expect that period – the worst bit in human terms – to be over relatively quickly? Conflict is super unsustainable behaviour…

          At that point the system should find a new equilibrium (hopefully from which we can do better!) – tempered by ongoing climate change (since we’re stuck with that for quite a while unfortunately).

          As to why I expect the bulk of the population adjustment to happen fairly rapidly – that’s due to the very high level of dependency upon the “system”. We could still do a lot of mitigation of this if we were to push the right ideas (I’m pessimistic, but there is still theoretically time).

        • Any collapse would be slow, painful, and long-lasting. Instant collapses only happen in the movies. An actual collapse of a civilization of the size we now inhabit would occur in stages. It could be either partial or complete but we are likely talking about large time-scales even in the event of severe shocks.

          The civilizations are more potentially resilient than credit is given. Once threats are apparent, centers of wealth will be accessed for general defense purposes or they will be destroyed in the upheaval. This is why the notion of equality is so critical going into our current crisis. It will determine what we look like coming out — more dispersed, fearful, and insular tribes or far more sustainable and survivable civilizations.

          In any case, if you get down to the level of having to fend for yourself in a completely disintegrating world after years and years and years of disruption chances of individual survival are very, very low. The world can only support about 10 million hunter-gatherers long-term (probably less due to ecological degradation). Skill alone is not enough to survive that kind of reaping. You’d have to possess a luck of the gods.

        • Certainly collapse will be painful and long lasting. But with respect to rapidity, I think it depends on your perspective. If you step back and look at the whole human world – sure – it takes quite a while. But I would argue that collapse has already started (albeit very early days) – and if you happen to live in one of the failing nations, events proceed much faster at the individual perspective (which is the reality of every day life). That is to say that the failure of the whole system takes quite a bit of time, but the failure of individual elements can be much quicker (especially discrete steps in the process – collapse isn’t a single event, nor even is it easy to identify exactly what it is and when it has occurred).

          I don’t think there’s any mileage long term in hunter gathering – it ought to be achievable to preserve at the very least agriculture, even if practising it in a high conflict environment is rather problematic. The answer there are to find a low conflict environment – and to do the best one can in the mean time.

          Having said that the overall process of collapse takes quite a while, I do think there will be a relatively quick failure phase for many as I think there are elements of positive feedback involved once you start disrupting things sufficiently. We are not at this point yet, of course.

          I also think it’s worth noting that the signal of collapse is initially problematic to identify due to “noise” from normal variability. Which is to say economic failure, conflict, etc all happen anyway, and with many and complex drivers.

        • If we don’t preserve civilization, we don’t have agriculture. Chicken and egg.

        • Hence CCG – Civilisation Continuity Group. Not that the idea gathers any support from anyone.

          Anyway, it does depend what you mean by collapse I guess. History is littered with the remains of plenty of civilisations that failed – but as far as I know we’ve at least retained agriculture for 10,000+ years despite all that.

          In the same way, I’d be rather surprised if it was literally impossible to retain it in at least some locations – if it were impossible – probably the planet wouldn’t be habitable for prey to hunt or gather either…

        • Or to be clearer – it is the attempt to retain the foundations of civilisation even in the face of catastrophe that is what the CCG stuff is all about (even if it’s pretty much just me and my own project).

        • Just one minor point – while I personally cannot necessarily expect to survive in the future I foresee – if multiple efforts existed to preserve something for the future – statistically, there comes a point where one or more groups with that outlook should survive.

          It’s not an excuse not to try anyway.

        • Captive…

      • mikkel

         /  May 29, 2014

        I used to be extremely pessimistic about food supply issues but have had my mind completely changed based on what I’ve seen people do.

        Most surburbs have plenty of land for short term cultivation using intensive techniques such as aquaponics or permaculture.

        Some groups are starting to go around neighborhoods and transforming them

        In addition, communities can greatly reduce their energy needs through efficiency programs, bike shares, and production.

        Combine these with blue collar trades and some outside resources for importing some basic essentials, and I imagine that resilient pockets could hold out far longer than the oligarchs.

        • Resilient pockets under the right circumstances, certainly.

          Personally I think subsistence food production will be our foreseeable future as a species. I don’t see industrial agriculture operating indefinitely (and it is very damaging in multiple ways), and while I expect a big drop in population – self sufficiency will be the only successful strategy for those on the other side of the bottleneck.

          In fact – in my opinion – I’d go as far as to say the knowledge parents could impart to their children that would be most beneficial would be that of how to grow their own food (and other crops that can produce other key commodities).

      • Mark from New England

         /  May 29, 2014

        “Wage earners are only in a slave-like condition if they live in a nation without effective equality policy.” – unfortunately that fits the USA to a T, and many other industrial nations, excepting Scandanavian ones perhaps.

        • Moreso recently. Our jettisoning of equality policies starting in the 1980s was a very bad idea from the standpoint of maintaining a stable and effective civilization. We begged deep fractures and now we have them.

      • Mark from New England

         /  May 29, 2014

        ccgwebmaster wrote: “In fact – in my opinion – I’d go as far as to say the knowledge parents could impart to their children that would be most beneficial would be that of how to grow their own food (and other crops that can produce other key commodities)”. I’ll second that motion!

        Permaculture in the context of one’s local (though changing unpredictably) climate and knowledge of wild foods could also go a long way towards building a low-tech but resilient civilization.

        • Just a basic knowledge and some firsthand experience of the general concepts of where food comes from would be a decent start – plenty of people don’t even have that…

  2. In any case, calling the game early on 350 is a bit too cynical for my taste. Climate change is bound to be an nigh unavoidable election issue going forward. Republicans will look increasingly imbecilic as they attempt to deny or dance around the issue. For Dems, it’s a political weapon of increasing potency few will be able to resist using. Further, a growing number of states show the emergence of what I would call renewable energy power bases. Oh no, the game is just starting and there’s huge opportunity for those taking on climate change and old industry.

    • 350 remains a sensible target, and a moral imperative. Given that the bulk of the population can expect to die in the alternative (default and happening) future, it also remains a logical goal for the collective masses – there is no route through the bottleneck en masse.

      If people want to justify their high carbon lifestyles by saying their contribution doesn’t matter and it’s a lost cause anyway – go for it – but I view such people as at least as bad as those who ignorantly consume (and perhaps worse as they do so knowingly).

      Those people are murderers and thieves, acting individually to destroy the lives of my and later generations. So, by all means – knowingly choose to murder and harm us… just understand that is how at least one person (and I hope ultimately many more) will see your actions.

      • Er, I should be clear I’m not directing my accusations of murderous and thieving behaviour at you, Robert – despite putting the statement in a reply to you. It is however directed at anyone who thinks it acceptable to continue to live a high emission lifestyle simply because they think their contribution insignificant, or that the cause is lost.

        • Ha! My carbon footprint is small and shrinking by my own effort. You’re preaching to the choir. Vegan takes the carbon emission down by quite a bit, btw.

      • It’s like smoking a cigarette that has a high potential of causing harm to you, but an even greater chance of killing your grandchildren. How could one not try to do something about it? The moral imperative is plainly clear.

    • Time for a little good news, then…

      From Barrons:

      Barclays this week downgrades the entire electric sector of the U.S. high-grade corporate bond market to underweight, saying it sees long-term challenges to electric utilities from solar energy, and that the electric sector of the bond market isn’t pricing in these challenges right now. It’s a noteworthy downgrade since electric utilities which make up nearly 7.5% of Barclays’ U.S. Corporate Index by market value.

      Barclays Downgrades Electric Utility Bonds, Sees Viable Solar Competition
      Michael Aneiro, Barrons, 2014-05-23

      The reporter quotes Barclays on how photovoltaics and power storage are already cost competitive in Hawaii and may be in competitive in California by 2017. Other states should quickly follow after that.

      Hat tip to Peter Sinclair. He sometimes compares photovoltaics to computer chips. The two technologies both seem to follow cost curves that are exponentially decreasing functions of time, presently.

      • You can use some of the same industrial processes to reduce PV costs. The comparison and potential are apt. The only way solar doesn’t eat ff lunch is if they strangle it. And they are trying!

        Peter is on the money, IMO.

        For Apneaman below…

        I think these arguments rely too much on the notion that techniques do not adapt to conditions. The arguments are made under the assumption of a static state of the art and a failure to alter materials use, types of materials used, methods of manufacture, to engage in recycling, and to explore new access.

        For example, the notion that motherboards are too complex doesn’t take into account alterations to simplify motherboards, changes in feed stock, nor alterations to adapt to complex processing.

        The same kinds of arguments were used RE peak oil some years back. And though they were correct in the static sense (conventional oil basically hit a peak), they failed to account for adaptation to use unconventional fossil fuels. So the peak oil horizon was pushed much further back than the peak oilers anticipated. This is not to say that a finite resource won’t eventually run out. Nor is it to say that a Growth Shock in demand for conventional oil didn’t have resounding effects. But some of the resource that was hithertofore deemed inaccessible was unlocked due to both high price and new technology and the economic shocks to the system, though strong, were not as apocalyptic as some imagined.

        This is not to say that I believe this is a good thing, for innovation in this case puts far too much power and influence in the hands of fossil fuel companies while also placing us on track for ramping harm from climate change.

        Another example is the much-touted, so-called silicon shortage that never materialized. Sure, there was a bit of a crunch as demand increased. But new supplies were found and new more efficient manufacturing techniques were developed. Now we have solar panels that cost less than 60 cents per watt to make and less than 2 dollars per watt to install.

        Yet one more so called absolute limit was set on how much a country could rely on renewable energy. Some set the maximum at ten percent, others, 20. Now we have large countries like Germany at 25 percent renewable supply year-round and generating as much as 75 percent on a given day. Other regions such as Scotland and Portugal generate far, far more proportionately from renewables without a hitch.

        The issue is not that there aren’t limits. Because various limits do certainly exist. And the issue is not that technology is a magical solution to all problems. The issue is that a given challenge via limits can often be overcome by exploring different options and through applied effort to take advantage of those adaptations. In other words, most boundary limits aren’t impenetrable.

        Some boundary limits present greater risks of failure and some seem extraordinary in their difficulty to overcome. Other boundary limits are entirely impenetrable to current civilization. But these are more rare than some would have us believe. Moreover, the impact of some limits can and has been radically over-played.

        This is unfortunate. Because limits do exist and it is helpful to have a realistic sense of them. But it is not helpful to exaggerate either the difficulty or ease of overcoming a limit.

        As for the issue of whether you can run an economy on renewables or whether the world can continue to produce motherboards, these are certainly challenges that are within the human ability to overcome and it would take a degree of imposed paralysis and ineptitude to fail in the ways described below.

  3. Colorado Bob

     /  May 29, 2014

    Seattle sets 6 month rainfall record in just 4 months
    Seattle just did that, meteorologically speaking, by breaking a six month rainfall record… and only needing four months to do it.

    The National Weather Service reported Monday morning that with the 0.22 inches of rain that fell on Sunday, Seattle had received 22.87 inches of rain since Feb. 1. That broke the record for wettest February-through-July period in Seattle history.

    It took all six months to get there in 1972, reaching 22.81 inches. This year, we broke it tying June and July behind our back. We could go bone dry the next 65 days and the record is still broken

  4. Colorado Bob

     /  May 29, 2014

    Drought headaches in Brazil’s WCup opener city

    Sao Paulo’s water shortage is the result of insufficient rain this year, with levels at Sao Paulo’s main reservoir supplying freshwater to 9 million people dipping lower than ever before.

    In a normal year, torrential rains shower Sao Paulo, channeling water through rivers down the lime-green hills to the north. But this year, only a third of the usual rain arrived, with 9 inches (23 centimeters) falling during the December to February wet season.

    Read more here:

  5. I forgot… One link good, two links bad, and a comment is in moderation. Feel free to delete this note…

  6. Colorado Bob

     /  May 29, 2014

    India’s lethal heat wave strikes again

    Kumar Srinivasan, a 34-year-old policeman, is struggling to cope with the heat as he controls traffic at a busy city-centre road junction in Chennai, South India. “I feel like a roasted chicken,” he says. “But it’s actually worse, since I am alive while the chicken would have gone to rest in heaven.”

    India is sizzling under hot winds as many parts of the country suffer temperatures hovering above 40˚C. And officials in the National Weather Forecasting Center of the India Metrological Department have warned that “heat waves to severe heat wave conditions would prevail in isolated parts of the country in the last week of May”.

  7. Robert, here is something a little more on topic then. A paper Holland, Greg, and Cindy L. Bruyère (2013) argues for a strong increasing linear relationship between global temperature and the percent of hurricanes that are category 4 and 5, strong decreasing linear relationship for category 1 and 2, but for me it raises more questions.

    From the abstract:

    … a strong signal is found in proportions of both weaker and stronger hurricanes: the proportion of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has increased at a rate of ~25–30 % per °C of global warming after accounting for analysis and observing system changes. This has been balanced by a similar decrease in Category 1 and 2 hurricane proportions, leading to development of a distinctly bimodal intensity distribution, with the secondary maximum at Category 4 hurricanes. This global signal is reproduced in all ocean basins. The observed increase in Category 4–5 hurricanes may not continue at the same rate with future global warming. The analysis suggests that following an initial climate increase in intense hurricane proportions a saturation level will be reached beyond which any further global warming will have little effect.

    Holland, Greg, and Cindy L. Bruyère. “Recent intense hurricane response to global climate change.” Climate Dynamics (2013): 1-11.
    (Second Paper down)

    Had you run into this before? They argue that the basins plateau (“saturate”) at a relative frequency that is basin-specific:

    … the North Atlantic may saturate at 30–35 % proportion of Cat 4–5 hurricanes after which no further increases with global warming will occur… For the globe the saturation limit may be around 40–50 % proportion of Cat 4–5 hurricanes [pg. 624]…. A similar rapid increase to saturation is apparent for the western North Pacific in Fig. 9b, except that here the saturation level is higher at 60–65 %. The other ocean basins are too noisy for explicit analysis, but they appear to fall between the North Atlantic and western North Pacific.

    A couple more pieces in the puzzle…. They state that the North Atlantic appears to have another 10% to go, however, globally we may have already reached saturation in the relative global frequency of 4-5.

    Please see:

    a further maximum increase in North Atlantic Cat 4–5 proportion of~10 % from the current level of ~25 % (Fig. 5b) may be expected…. [pg. 624] There is tentative evidence that the saturation level will differ across the tropical cyclone basins and that the global proportion of Cat 4–5 hurricanes may already be near it’s saturation level of ~40–50 %. This has considerable societal implications that are being examined in a companion study.[pg. 625]

    However, even after saturation, there obviously will be more potential energy available to hurricanes. If this doesn’t go into changing the relative frequencies, where should we expect that energy to go? Increases in absolute frequency? The poleward movement of hurricanes? Also, I haven’t been able to figure out what “companion piece” they are speaking of. Perhaps it wasn’t published. Do you have any idea?

    • Studies tend to include seasonal limits that I don’t feel are entirely realistic. Ocean surface temps support hurricanes year-round at a certain threshold. Then that zone expands northward. These model results imply a southern suppression of storms as the productive band moves poleward. There is some evidence of this, but it may be overstated. Primary suppression of storms in a warm environment comes from increased wind shear and increased dry air. Evidence that these instances are enough to balance both the expanded temporal period in which storms may form and the greatly expanded range of potential storm formation is a thin reassurance.

      In my opinion a lot of the excess energy goes to thunderstorm formation in which the storm heights and intensities are much greater. This also implies more hurricanes of greater intensity.

  8. robertscribbler wrote:

    Then that zone expands northward. These model results imply a southern suppression of storms as the productive band moves poleward.

    Along those lines… A new paper out by Kerry Emanuel that argues that while much of the data on hurricanes from past decades is poor, one piece which should be of relatively good quality is the position of lifetime maximum intensity, that is, where the intensity peaks. Furthermore, if one tracks this over time there is a strong signal in terms of latitude of a little over 50 km per decade. This will have the effect of increasing risks in coastal cities outside the tropics and reducing regional water resources within.

    Please see:

    Kossin, James P., Kerry A. Emanuel, and Gabriel A. Vecchi. The poleward migration of the location of tropical cyclone maximum intensity. Nature 509.7500 (2014): 349-352.

    robertscribbler wrote:

    In my opinion a lot of the excess energy goes to thunderstorm formation in which the storm heights and intensities are much greater. This also implies more hurricanes of greater intensity.

    Assuming wind shear doesn’t prevent them from forming. Then again, Gavin Schmidt stated a few years back that there will be years when wind shear will be lower than others. Also, I remember that with tornadoes it had been thought that the increase in available potential energy and decrease in wind shear would tend to cancel each other out in terms of their effects upon the formation of tornadoes. However, more recently a paper presumably showed that those days that have the greatest available potential energy will also be less affected by a general decrease in wind shear.

    • The other issue to consider is this: if storms are forming further north, this will naturally skew the maximum intensity of the sample northward, even if southern storm intensity is not suppressed.

  9. Sorry, you had mentioned wind shear earlier. I am afraid I was a bit in a hurry to get up the Emanuel paper as it was in the same vein as your comment. But also I had initially wanted to include it in the earlier comment. In any case, I have to wonder whether, as with the reduction in hurricanes in the tropics and poleward movement of lifetime maximum intensity there might also be a reduction in hurricanes in the middle of the hurricane season, and whether lifetime maximum intensity might move away from the center of the season. But that is just a thought.

  10. Yet more bad news from Antarctica!

    “A new study has found that the Antarctic Ice Sheet began melting about 5,000 years earlier than previously thought coming out of the last ice age – and that shrinkage of the vast ice sheet accelerated during eight distinct episodes, causing rapid sea level rise.”

  11. pintada

     /  May 29, 2014

    Overnight, i thought of a positive twist to the findings of the two sociology/politics papers I posted last night. I recognize that the conversation has moved on, but hopefully, you will bear with me.

    From the model study and the research that supports it, “we” know how to fix our civilization. Decrease non-productive expenditures, control population, close all hotels & ban flying, etc. The how is relatively easy.

    From the influence study out of Princeton, we know who to confront (at least in the US). And we know who is really in charge. The number of people that matter is really very small – perhaps only 100,000! We also know that they are generally better educated than the general population. (I was going to say that they are more intelligent as well … silly me.)

    So, would not the astute activist change tactics? Ignore the general population, and focus on explaining things to the 1% or maybe only the top 0.1%?

    • It’s possible. Worked with the ozone issue. In any case, it’s a good question. Is direct lobbying of political and business policy makers (the wealthy and influential) ongoing RE climate change? I would think this has been ongoing due to the huge numbers of organizations involved and a non insubstantial support from a number of wealthy persons.

      In addition, we have an ongoing divestment campaign targeted at devaluing fossil fuels in general and making them less attractive to those who only care about profits.

      In any case, it’s a good question.

      Just one point — it’s not the mode of transport we need to abolish. It’s the carbon-emitting fuel source. Airplanes are fine. Fossil fuel airplanes are not. Since most aircraft now run on fossil fuels, this is a challenge. So we return to sound policy. If the issue is made law, there isn’t a damn thing those 100,000 can do about it but complain. And complain they probably would. Listen to the screams still ongoing over the recent and very beneficial health care law.

  12. I found the paper suggesting that the declining trend in vertical wind shear is primarily on days of low Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) and thus will tend not to cancel out rising CAPE’s tendency to produce environments that foster severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

    Earlier, the first hurricane paper I cited (which showed an increase in categories 4 and 5) involved both modelling and an analysis of empirical trends. The second (which showed a poleward trend of lifetime maximum intensity) was strictly an analysis of empirical trends which nevertheless the authors argued would seem consistent with earlier model results. In contrast, this paper which is more relevant to tornadoes is principally concerned with the results of modelling, a trend the authors expect to see emerge before 2°C…

    Please see;

    Diffenbaugh, Noah S., Martin Scherer, and Robert J. Trapp. Robust increases in severe thunderstorm environments in response to greenhouse forcing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110.41 (2013): 16361-16366.

    • Shear has differing effects for hurricanes and tornadoes.

      Shear and atmospheric twist are essential to tornado formation. Upper level shear in the topics rips the higher cloud tops away from the storms and prevents vertical formation that is necessary for strong cyclones.

      Two different animals.

      • robertscribbler wrote:

        Shear has differing effects for hurricanes and tornadoes…. Two different animals.

        Understood, which is why I was distinguishing between them. The reason why wind shear was expected to have a dampening effect on an otherwise positive trend in hurricanes was increased wind shear — as you point out — cutting off the tops of thunderstorms before they have a chance to result in hurricane formation.

        In contrast, decreased wind shear was expected to have a dampening effect on an otherwise positive trend in tornadoes. Tornadoes begin on their sides due to a rolling motion that results from layers of air moving at different speeds, then is righted by a convective updraft lifting one end. But if wind shear drops only on days of low Convective Available Potential Energy then it won’t have a dampening effect upon tornado formation.

        Anyway, I am interested in what effects an intensified hydrological cycle will have on extreme weather. Floods are straightforward. Droughts are more complex, although primarily due to there being multiple mechanisms, e.g., increased evaporation due to higher temperatures, warmer springs melting winter snow and thus decreasing available water during the summer, drying out of the continental interiors due to land having a lower thermal inertia than water and thus warming more quickly, resulting in a drop in relative humidity as moist ocean air moves over land, expansion of the Hadley Cells and consequently the poleward growth of the dry subtropical zones of atmospheric subsidence. Then there are the storms. Hurricanes are obviously more important than tornadoes, but both will benefit from increased atmospheric moisture. I also suspect derechos will be more common, for a while, given a more wavy jet stream but haven’t seen any literature on this yet.

        • Two different kinds of shear as well.

          The shear that aids in tornado formation is vertical in nature. The shear inhibiting hurricanes is often upper level horizontal shear.

      • robertscribbler wrote:

        The shear that aids in tornado formation is vertical in nature. The shear inhibiting hurricanes is often upper level horizontal shear.

        That helps… I was wondering why shear would increase for one, decrease for the other, and how shear could promote one but work against the other. Differences between land and water for increasing and decreasing shear? A matter of scale with regard to promoting/working against… But, no. “Two different kinds of shear as well.” To be quite honest, this is something that had vaguely puzzled me off and on for quite some time.

        Thank you.

  13. PS

    Two of the coauthors of the above were involved in an earlier 2007 paper that suggested decreased vertical wind shear would not have been sufficient to cancel out increased CAPE anyway.

    Please see:

    Trapp, Robert J., et al. Changes in severe thunderstorm environment frequency during the 21st century caused by anthropogenically enhanced global radiative forcing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104.50 (2007): 19719-19723.

    • Exactly. A lot of the additional heating goes to increase convection. So we end up with towering thunderstorms. And since thunderstorms are the precursors to hurricanes, we have yet one more positive feedback to add to increasing season length, general ocean surface warming (related to increased convection), and an increasing area in which storms may form.

      • robertscribbler wrote:

        Exactly. A lot of the additional heating goes to increase convection.

        Understood. However the Trapp (2007) is concerned with thunderstorms where decreased vertical wind shear would tend to inhibit tornado formation rather than promote it.

        Please see:

        Severe thunderstorms comprise an extreme class of deep convective clouds and produce high-impact weather, such as destructive surface winds, hail, and/or tornadoes, in addition to dangerous lightning and torrential rainfall.

        They state that global warming results in decreased wind shear:

        Hence, one possible outcome from the increased CAPE and decreased shear expected under anthropogenic climate change is the predominance of less organized thunderstorms, still capable of extreme rainfall but generally nonsevere.

        … but modelling under a high emissions scenario shows the decrease in wind shear isn’t sufficient to cancel out the effects of increased CAPE on the promotion of severe thunderstorm environments that are essential to tornado formation, at least over most of the United States:

        However, over most of the United States, the relative increases in A2 CAPE more than compensate for the relative decreases in A2 shear, leading to relative increases in A2 NDSEV and hence in the frequency of severe thunderstorm environments. For example, during MAM, a modern period of high severe thunderstorm occurrence, the positive differences in CAPE and hence NDSEV are largest over a “tornado-alley”-like region extending northward from Texas (Fig. 1). During JJA, positive differences in NDSEV cover the eastern one-half of the United States and are similarly well associated with the positive CAPE difference.

        Older paper, though. Diffenbaugh et al. (2013) argues that diminished wind shear is a factor primarily on low CAPE days, so diminishing wind shear will have even less of an effect on a positive trend in environments conducive to tornado formation.

        • Tornadoes are a different animal. One that is far more complex, in my view, than hurricanes.

          Increasing convection is a strong positive feedback for hurricane formation one that adds to two other strong positive feedbacks expanding temporal periods in which storms may form and expanding zones in which ocean conditions favor formation. In my opinion, these are likely to out-weigh potential horizontal shear and dry air events.

          For tornadoes, we end up with a warming Arctic which results in less instability for tornado formation in the central US (negative feedback). A shift in the cool air pool toward Greenland also resulting in less instability for the central US (negative feedback). Increasing convection (positive feedback). Loss of ice along Rocky Mountain glaciers and related air instability (negative feedback). Increased local Gulf moisture flow (positive feedback). Increasingly sharp dividing lines between dry and moist air increasing instability (positive feedback).

          Overall, the high degrees of negative feedbacks for the geographic region of tornado alley may mean less tornadoes for the area. Globally, however, it appears that an increase in tornado formation may be possible. In addition, the increasing size and intensity of thunderstorms means that when tornadoes do form they have higher top strength potentials.

      • robertscribbler wrote

        Tornadoes are a different animal. One that is far more complex, in my view, than hurricanes.,

        Robert, I hope you don’t mind my asking, but what is your background? It seems obvious that you have some sort of technical background in climate science but I am not picking you up in searches of the peer reviewed literature.

        • My relevant background starts in Military Intelligence. After that, I was a Managing Editor at Janes Information Group for their series on emerging threats (focusing on a variety of issues). At that time, I started researching climate change as an emerging threats analyst. My role was to read scientific/technical papers, publish related material for customers, write original articles based on research and analysis, and to develop experts in specific areas.

          Overall, I’ve read hundreds of papers on the issue of climate change and related weather extremes.

          In addition, I’ve been an amateur meteorologist since about age 8 and will be attending classes for Atmospheric and Ocean Earth Systems Science starting this fall in pursuit of a PhD. The math is a bit intimidating. But climate change is scarier still and I feel I need a few more weapons for analysis going forward.

      • Then you were doing essentially the same sort of as that which the recent Center for Naval Analyses study was built.

        Please see:

        In Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, we are already seeing how the impacts of extreme weather, such as prolonged drought and flooding – and resulting food shortages, desertification, population dislocation and mass migration, and sea level rise – are posing security challenges to these regions’ governments. We see these trends growing and accelerating.

        pg. 2, National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change
        CNA Military Advisory Board, May 2014

        … and which Republicans in the United States House of Representatives seek to strangle by means of their purse-strings.

        Please see:

        The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted mostly along party lines Thursday to approve an amendment to the $600 billion National Defense Authorization Act which prohibits the Pentagon from using any of its budget to address climate change and specifically instructs the Department of Defense to ignore the latest scientific reports on the threats posed by global warming.

        House bans Pentagon from preparing for climate change
        JC Sevcik, UPI, 2014-05-23

        • Quite a bit of the research we did at Janes ended up in the military threat assessment reports as well as in various disaster response and planning guides.

          The republicans are in full budgetary witch hunt mode at this time. And it remains entirely clear that their interests are aligned directly with the oil companies and against those of the American people, especially when it comes to our security. Telling the military to turn a blind eye to climate change now is like making the same statement about the Axis powers in 1939. Not only is it blindly self-serving. It is unforgivably stupid.

        • Have to submit a correction RE our earlier wind shear conversation…

          It’s vertical in both cases. The effect is different, however. In the case of tornadoes the shear results in cloud rolling which generates the cyclonic turning that has the potential to form tornadoes. In the tropics, the same vertical shear mechanism rips off cloud tops and suppresses eye wall formation that is a key to hurricane intensity.

          Found this on a related fact check.

      • robertscribbler wrote:

        Telling the military to turn a blind eye to climate change now is like making the same statement about the Axis powers in 1939. Not only is it blindly self-serving. It is unforgivably stupid.

        I am reminded of episode 1 of Years of Living Dangerously. Six years of drought in Syria largely thought to have been prolonged and intensified by climate change, followed by civil war brought on by drastically reduced harvests, then, soon after the reporters left, the rebels they were embedded with falling under attack by Al Qaeda who were opportunistically making use of the situation and who summarily executed 100 of the rebels. And whether climate change was involved or not, drought lead to starvation in Somalia, international aid workers entering the country to help out, and ultimately to Blackhawk Down back in 1993.

        It is a virtual given that it will create opportunities for terrorist groups in the years and decades ahead. Similarly, when Japan went to war back in 1941, they weren’t simply looking for lebensraum but in part responding to actual starvation brought on by their economy contracting after World War I as the result of their munitions no longer being in demand. Climate change will similarly hit economies hard, creating opportunities for other militants. And it will result in the kind of desperation that leads to dictatorships. These are the sorts of things we want our military to be ready for, not blinded to.

        • I think it’s pretty telling when CNC Pacific Theater says he’s more worried about climate change than about China. The destabilizing forces we’ve unleashed are bound to continue to cause pop up crises. And you’re absolutely right, desperation due to loss of resources is a primary cause of dictatorship as well as nation vs nation conflict. If we don’t prep for climate change militarily, we fly blind into the 21rst century.

      • robertscribbler wrote:

        It’s vertical in both cases.

        You are probably right.

        Muller and Keim emphasize horizontal wind shear but seem to recognize a role for each.

        Regarding the horizontal:

        Hurricane formation requires a suite of oceanographic and meteorological conditions….. Third, upper air flow at approximately 25,000-50,000 feet must allow the rising moist tropical air around the center of the storm to vent aloft outward from the center. Otherwise, strong winds at high levels of the atmosphere can create wind shear, and storms are not allowed to vent aloft. Wind shear can be defined as an abrupt change in wind speed or direction over a short distance, and it can be either vertical or horizontal. In this case, horizontal wind shear serves to tear apart the hurricane by limiting, or preventing, ascent of air needed to support storm dynamics.

        pg. 57-8, Keim, Barry D., and Robert A. Muller. Hurricanes of the Gulf of Mexico. LSU Press, 2009.

        Regarding the vertical:

        Many researchers have demonstrated that warm phase ENSO conditions–better known as El Nino–in the eastern Pacific Ocean, coupled with drought in the Arfican Sahel, increase potential for westerly vertical wind shear over the main Atlantic breeding grounds. This creates unfavorable conditions for hurricane formation in the Atlantic.

        pg. 67, Keim, Barry D., and Robert A. Muller. Hurricanes of the Gulf of Mexico. LSU Press, 2009.

        Weather Underground emphasizes vertical wind shear:

        In the case of hurricanes, wind shear is important primarily in the vertical direction–from the surface to the top of the troposphere. … When one hears the phrase, “wind shear is 20 knots over the hurricane”, this typically refers to the difference in wind speed between 200 mb (the top of the troposphere, 40,000 feet altitude) and a layer where a pressure of 850 mb is found–about 5,000 feet above the surface. This wind shear is computed over a large area–a circle of 700 miles in diameter centered on the hurricane is one technique used.

        Weather Underground: Wind Shear Tutorial

        The same article also quotes Gray who also focuses on the vertical:

        In the SW Atlantic and central Pacific, where tropical storms do not occur, the observed climatological tropospheric wind shear is large (i.e., 20-40 kt). This is believed to be the major inhibitor to development in these areas. Large vertical wind shears do not allow for area concentration of the tropospheric distributed cumulonimbus condensation. Large shears produce a large ventilation of heat away from the developing disturbance. The condensation heat released by the cumulus to the upper troposphere is adverted in a different direction relative to the released heat at lower levels. Concentration of heat through the entire troposphere becomes more difficult.

        Gray, William M. Global view of the origin of tropical disturbances and storms. Monthly Weather Review 96.10 (1968): 669-700.

      • Here is what I noticed… In terms of the conditions that Keim and Muller gives in their book as conditions for hurricane formation, the absence of horizontal wind shear is listed as #3. At that point vertical wind shear receives no mention. However, but for the word “horizontal” it sounds like what they is describing is different horizontal layers at different altitudes moving at different speeds — which would be vertical wind shear. My guess is that someone accidentally substituted the wrong word. Perhaps Keim stepped out for a coffee.

        The page at Weather Underground says that vertical wind shear is more important. Anonymously written, true. However, they cite from and quote Gray. Keim and Muller (2009) has 17 citations in Google Scholar. Gray (1968) has 1150. Gray’s paper is a classic. Heck, Hendrix, Roger W., et al. Evolutionary relationships among diverse bacteriophages and prophages: all the world’s a phage. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 96.5 (1999): 2192-2197 has only been around since 1999, has only half the cites, and I would regard it as a great classic. Unrelated though.

        But I really doubt that, at least in terms of which wind shear is more important in hurricane formation Gray was wrong and Muller right. Wind shear seems pretty basic to our understanding of hurricanes. And as Centauri Minister Virini in Babylon 5 remarks , “… when you reduce a family tree to a family bush, you can’t hide as much underneath”. An error of that magnitude on Gray’s part would have been spotted and would have likely have easily prevented his paper from becoming a classic — assuming it got printed without correction in the first place. Muller on the other hand wrote a book. So I would go with Gray.

        However, I have also read descriptions and seen diagrams. They all point to vertical wind shear being central, horizontal being the peripheral.

        • Vertical shear would create rolling within the cyclonic formation preventing and suppressing convection. Horizontal shear is visible at the satellite level and can be seen tilting cloud formations and taking the cloud tops off. It is likely that horizontal shear promotes vertical shear within the cloud formations.

      • Part of what had me confused at one point was which shear is which. Originally I had thought that horizontal shear would be horizontal if the dimensions in which the velocity of the the two layers existed took place were horizontal. Then I thought that that horizontal shear would be horizontal if it were the dimension along which the two velocities varied, which would be perpendicular.

        But neither seems to be the case. The second is correct with respect to vertical wind shear, more or less, but fails to capture what is meant by horizontal wind shear, evidently.

        Please see:

        Wind shear is defined as a sudden change of wind velocity and/or direction.
        Windshear may be vertical or horizontal, or a mixture of both types. ICAO defines the vertical and horizontal components of wind shear as follows:

        Vertical wind shear is defined as change of horizontal wind direction and/or speed with height, as would be determined by means of two or more anemometers mounted at different heights on a single mast.

        Horizontal wind shear is defined as change of horizontal wind direction and/or speed with horizontal distance, as would be determined by two or more anemometers mounted at the same height along a runway

        SKYbrary Low Level Wind Shear

        (emphasis in the original)

        So at least I seemed to be right regarding Muller vs. Gray. Anyway, my apologies for taking this long to get it. I should have looked these up sooner.

  14. Gerald Spezio

     /  May 29, 2014

    Aging new ager, Carolyn Baker, has a nebulous & fluffy prescription for dealing with catastrophic climate change & near term extinction;

    As we confront catastrophic climate change which is likely to result in near-term human extinction, we must ask if we are willing to put love into action, even if we don’t survive. Can we move beyond a triumphalist agenda? Accepting the possibility of near-term extinction is an agony, but an agony that liberates the spiritual warrior in the powers of truth and love in order to discover the diamond hidden in the darkness that cannot be discovered in relentless fighting in order to “overcome.” The diamond can only be acquired by surrendering the need for anyone or anything to survive, even oneself. In the words of Andrew Harvey this is “a glorious and terrible adventure, but it is the antidote to despair.”

    Tell a bewildered Bangladesh farmer that he must be “willing to put love into action.”

    Tell a gasping & sobbing Bangladesh farmer; “It’s an agony, but you are being liberated.”

    As the reeling farmer watches his wife & children drown,” he is advised to see it as;

    There is a “diamond hidden in the darkness,” if only you will look for it, Carolyn advises.

    So stupid, cruel, uninformed, & utterly foul on its face.

    Carolyn Baker & Andrew Harvey are cruel & superficial intellectual perverts.

    • Love cries out against needless harm and death. It does not embrace it.

    • pintada

       /  May 29, 2014

      There are five stages in the typical grieving process. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

      I spent the ’70s ’80s and part of the 90s in denial, or really, i was too busy to look around. Once I had the time … depression and bargaining – years of it. Then, I was stuck in anger for a long time, but there really is no point in holding on to it either.

      The fact is that Dr Baker is helping lots of people get a handle on what is happening. And she is responsible in part for my (tenuous) acceptance of our reality. I fall back into anger occasionally, but I fight my tendency to wallow in it – it sure helps me sleep better when I win out for a few days! Plus, my anger if given the time always turns to depression which is not helpful.

      The archdruid has often mentioned that different people need to do different things during the collapse since that gives more people a chance at having the right combination of skills, location, and luck that will keep the human race from going the way of the dodo. If new age works for some, then they should enjoy. It will do no harm.

      From Dr. Bakers book:
      “For decades I have been profoundly influenced by the work of Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Malidoma Somé, Michael Meade, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, and Marion Woodman. Before labeling these people New Age, please read what they have actually written. If you don’t understand it, do not write it off as New Age. Know also that I am adamantly opposed to New Age notions, because I know that they have nothing to do with the people I have just mentioned and because the New Age perspective is profoundly, willfully blind to the collapse of industrial civilization. Not only is it steeped in denial, …”

      Baker Phd, Carolyn (2013-11-19). Collapsing Consciously: Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times (Sacred Activism) (p. 45). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

      I have been a more-or-less serious Buddhist since ~1972. This book is also useful for working thru the grieving process:

      “After he was diagnosed with cancer, the visionary genius Steve Jobs had this to say about freedom from the eight worldly concerns:

      Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death,
      leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

      The first commitment is a vow to know your triggers, a vow that whatever it takes, you’ll compassionately acknowledge when you’re hooked by the eight worldly concerns—or, indeed, hooked by anything.”

      Chodron, Pema (2012-10-09). Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change (Kindle Locations 819-822). Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

      I recommend both books for anyone working through the grieving process as all 7 billion of us will … some sooner, some later.

  15. Gerald Spezio

     /  May 29, 2014

    Arctic Inuit lady, Jesse Mike, on the devastation of her people & her culture from climate change.
    Love, liberation, & glorious adventuring my arse.

  16. Bernard

     /  May 29, 2014

    US economy contracted in first quarter of 2014

    “The US Commerce Department’s first reading of gross domestic product (GDP) showed the economy grew at an annualised rate of just 0.1%.

    The fall in output was blamed on an unusually cold and disruptive winter – one of the coldest in the US for 20 years – and a plunge in business investment.

    Economists estimate the weather could have cost up to 1.5 percentage points of GDP.

    However, the Commerce’s Department’s report did not estimate the effect of the winter weather.”

  17. Gerald Spezio

     /  May 29, 2014

    “Airplanes are fine. Fossil fuel airplanes are not. Since most aircraft now run on fossil fuels, this is a challenge.

    A fully loaded Airbus 380 weighs 600 tons on takeoff.

    About 280 tons of the total is jet fuel.

    Each engine produces about 41,000 lbs of thrust.

    The thrust on take off makes yuppies ascared sometimes, Mama.

    One gallon of kerosene jet fuel contains about 128,000 BTUs of energy.

    Ain’t no way to lift 600 tons off the ground w/o sucking enormous amounts of fossil fuel.

    Unlike long suffering Jevons & the Bazooms-Bazooms Postulate; it’s a real physical law.

    • utoutback

       /  May 29, 2014

      Well actually – Airships have been capable of lifting huge amount of weigh, but after the Hindenberg fear drove us away from that mode of transport.

      On the topic of love/fear in times of crisis: My friend loves flea markets. On a recent trip to Savannah, GA he traveled into the country side and was amazed at how different this regional market was from his home area of CA. along with the usual fare, the large amount of arms (assault rifles, ammo, high capacity clips) was shocking to him. Farther along he came to tables filled with Nazi memorabilia and then cases of KKK “collectables”.
      Let us not delude ourselves into thinking that our hopes and expectations are generally shared.

      I know that we (humans) have the capacity to rally and perform heroic feats in times of crisis. I just wish we’d start acting before the crisis is upon us. I want no more climate “agreements in principle”. Action is what we need. Now.

      • The love and nostalgia for the heart of darkness in the south is extraordinarily disturbing. Unfortunately, I have no illusions as to what we are capable of and there is certainly a high likelihood that many of our fellows will continue to, all too willingly, play the villain.

        Am completely with you on the uselessness of ‘agreements in principle’ as well as the beautiful elegance and majesty of airships.

  18. Mark from New England

     /  May 29, 2014

    With that vast expanse of warm water due south of Alaska and west of British Columbia, do you think it’s possible for a tropical cyclone to travel up the west coast and hit the AK or BC coast later this year? Not that I’m wishing for that(!), just that it would be one more strange weather phenomenon like a Cat 5 hurricane in May. That area of very warm water makes the emerging Kelvin wave off of Ecuador look small in comparison.

    • No. Not enough warmth to support it. That said, SoCal could get hit by a tropical cyclone this year. And that would be both extraordinary and helpful to the drought situation.

  19. Colorado Bob

     /  May 29, 2014

    Indonesia’s haze from forest fires kills 110,000 people per year

    Haze caused by burning peat forests in Indonesia kills an average of 110,000 people per year and up to 300,000 during el Niño events, while releasing hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, warns a new report from Greenpeace. Sumatra: Going up in smoke argues that peatland and forest protection are the best way to protect the region from the effects of haze.

    The report focuses on Riau, a province that lies just across the Strait of Malacca from Singapore and accounts for 75 percent of all peat fires despite representing only 5 percent of Indonesia’s land mass.

    Greenpeace notes that since Indonesia’s moratorium on new forest concessions was signed in 2011, 30 percent of hotspots have been recorded in areas that were supposedly protected by the regulation. Peat forests are five times more likely to burn than conventional forests.

    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 29, 2014

      Drought likely to trigger forest fires in Riau province

      This year, Indonesia is again expecting El Nino, which tends to become more frequent and stronger due to climate change.

      Learning from the lessons of the El Nino-induced forest fires in 1997 and several other years, the government has been making preparations for anticipating the El Nino phenomenon, forecast to develop between May and October 2014.

      If forest fires occur during the El Nino phenomenon, it can have serious repercussions since Indonesia will most likely experience an El Nino-induced drought.

      “We have to anticipate El Nino and enforce repressive measures against forest and plantation fire setters,” Indonesian Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan recently emphasized.

    • God those are brutal figures.

  20. Colorado Bob

     /  May 29, 2014

    Tracking El Niño: Underlying Models

    El Niño and La Niña are names given to frequently occurring patterns of variation that are concentrated in the tropical Pacific Ocean, but that change the average temperature of Earth for about a year. When there is an El Niño the globe is warmer and when there is a La Niña the globe is cooler.

    In the last blog I wrote about predictions of a 2014 El Niño and why it is of such interest to climate and climate change. In this blog, I want to write about models that predict El Niño and relation of this type of modeling to climate change and climate modeling. Reaching very far back, I have written a bunch of blogs about modeling. In this blog from 2007, I write about types of models: intuitive or heuristic, statistical and physical. For this blog I will focus on physical models. I have also written about the difference between weather predictions and climate projections, with a simplistic explanation of internal variability versus forced behavior. Finally, I wrote a series to introduce models and modeling to nonscientists and here is a link to a late article in that series.

    Here, I focus on the modeling of El Niño and a set of issues that are potentially related to climate change over the next decades and centuries.

  21. Colorado Bob

     /  May 29, 2014

    Opinion: Welcome to the Anthropocene – by Gwynne Dyer

    There is no doubt that human beings are the dominant species on Earth. The seven billion of us account for about one-third of the total body mass of large animals on the planet, with our domestic animals accounting for most of the rest. (Wild animals only amount to 3 to 5 percent.) But are we really central to the scheme of things? That is a different question.

    Almost all the scientific discoveries of the past few centuries have moved human beings away from the centre of things towards the periphery. In the 16th century we learned that Earth went around the Sun, not the other way round.

    Then we realised that the Sun was just one more yellow star among a hundred billion others “far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy,” as Douglas Adams put it. And this is just one galaxy among hundreds of billions.

    Then the geologists learned that our planet is four and a half billion years old, whereas we primates have only been around for the past seven million years, and modern human being for a mere 100,000 years. And so on and so forth, until we felt very small and insignificant. But now the story is heading back in the other direction; they’re going to name an entire geological epoch after us. The Anthropocene.


  1. Storms of My Grandchildren Rising: Hurricane Amanda Sets Record as Strongest Eastern Pacific Ocean Cyclone in May | Artic Vortex

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