California’s Great Wilting — Lake Mead Heading Toward Rationing Line, Extreme Fire Hazard as 12.5 Million Trees Stand Dead, Agriculture Under Threat

(Video provided by NASA Goddard)

According to the California Government, State snowpack levels are now at 1 percent of average. That’s not just the lowest ever recorded. That’s about as close to zero as one can get without actually hitting zero.

“I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen. We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.” — Stephen Chu in a public press release six years ago.

*    *    *    *    *

Southwest megadrought. For more than 20 years now, climate models have been indicating rising risk of severe, multi-decade drought for this region of the US as a result of human-caused global warming. For years, we’ve watched the warnings mount. And for years we’ve watched as climates for that region grew drier and drier.

Warming seeped into the region, driving snow packs higher, or off the mountains entirely. Critical stores through dry summer months, these zones of mountain snow and ice serve as aquifers for human beings, shrubs and trees, and local animals alike. Their dwindling alone left the region more vulnerable to drought conditions.

But further-reaching changes — warming in the nearby ocean, and a recession of sea ice in the Arctic — also tilted the odds toward drought. Heating in the near shore waters of the Northeastern Pacific served as a kind of barrier to storm systems running across the wide ocean. Loss of sea ice in the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas provided a heat stress to that Arctic region. The net result was conditions that preferentially enabled the development of dry high pressure systems along the North American West Coast. A condition many have come to call — the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.

As the climate continues to warm, these conditions — local, regional, and global — enforce a kind of tilting toward drier and drier conditions. Conditions that models show may result in worse droughts than even the one we are seeing now. Droughts that last, not for four years, but for ten years, twenty years, thirty years or more. It’s a problem we’re just starting to deal with now. But if you think this is bad, warm the world by another 0.5 C, or 1 C, or 2 C and you probably really don’t want to see what’s in store.

For according to a February article in National Geographic and based on studies published by NASA, Columbia University and Cornell:

The chances of a 35-year or longer “megadrought” striking the Southwest and central Great Plains by 2100 are above 80 percent if the world stays on its current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.

California Hitting Water Limits

But the current drought, though not yet a ‘megadrought,’ is more than bad enough. Aptly called epic, the powerful and ongoing lock on California moisture has wrung out aquifers, pushed snowpacks to below 1 percent of usual levels for springtime, greatly depleted ground water supplies, and forced an additional 25 percent water rationing across the state.

Stresses to water supplies — not only for California, but for many other states as well — are mounting. Key Aquifers, like Lake Mead in Northern Arizona, are hitting levels where downstream rationing may be required. A shock that would send impacts rippling on through the entire US Southwestern water supply.

California Drought April 20 2014

(Nearly 50 percent of California is now under the most severe drought conditions we have a measure for. A total of more than 37 million people in California alone are impacted by drought at this time. Image source: US Drought Monitor.)

Expert climate spotter Andy in San Diego has been providing situation discussion in this forum on the drought there for weeks. Of particular concern are water levels at Lake Mead — which are fast approaching the line where water rationing to various locations across the Southwest goes into effect as a requirement by law.

Yesterday, Andy noted in discussion here that:

Lake Mead is at 1078.79. [Approximately] 4 ft from the start of cutoffs. It appears Arizona gets [rationed] first at 1075 in some documentation, Nevada in others. Outflows from Mead were … shut off Saturday & Sunday. Starting Saturday, outflows from Lake Powell were cranked up by about 1000 [cubic feet per second]. … At this point, inflows to Powell are being sent downstream to Mead immediately. I see a bit of gambling here hoping for decent inflows to Powell in Late May through early July. Unfortunately, snow pack above Powell is pretty much non existent. Powell is at ~44% full pool. Mead is at ~38%. This will be an interesting summer, it appears that all of the Hail Mary’s have been used for 2015 already. (some edits for clarity)

Since Andy’s update yesterday, Lake Mead levels had fallen further to 1078.55 feet — just 3.5 feet above levels where rationing requirements begin.

12.5 Million Dead Trees Could Fuel Epic Fire Season

As key US aquifers hover over mandatory rationing levels, impacts to wildlife across California are growing more and more extreme. Anyone having watched Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s amazing Cosmos series may have noted dessicated, browned grasses and fields in the background of some shots. The reason for this is that many of Tyson’s narrations were filmed on location in California. And, at the time — in 2014 — California’s epic drought was really starting to bite deep.

How deep had not yet become apparent. But new reports out yesterday began to shed light on what is an amazingly stark situation.

According features in the Washington Post and elsewhere, more than 12.5 million trees perished in California alone last year due to extreme drought conditions. Encompassing more than 1 million acres, it’s a swath of forest the size of Rhode Island — now filled with withered trees. Key plants necessary for a variety of life and land supports including moistening the air, anchoring the soil, and providing homes for communities of creatures.

tree-drought-death

(USDA photo shows swaths of dead trees in California pine forest. Image source USDA via CBS Local.)

Research indicated that not only did the heat and drought stress the trees. But the warm conditions favored the invasion of tree-devouring beetles. Wood-devouring insects that thrive in the hot, dry conditions put in place by the ongoing drought.

The dead trees are bad enough. But put them smack dab in the worst drought on record for California and they are an extreme fire hazard.

Since late 2013, fire season has never really ended for California. It’s flared and dwindled, but wildfire burning has continued regardless of season due to both extreme heat and drying. Summer months are the worst times, though, and this year’s very extreme conditions has California fire planners very worried.

At issue are all the millions and millions of dead trees. Sitting in the sun, dried and wrung of all moisture, they’re essentially large stacks of kindling. Fuels that could rapidly ignite given even the smallest spark.

A recent program on NPR highlights the hazard:

Cambria, Calif. is under an emergency fire declaration. There’s no actual fire, no smoke, but here’s the situation broken down by Cambria Fire Chief Mark Miller. If a fire started today under the circumstances that exist……In the first 20 minutes, it would be six acres, and there would be two houses involved.

US Agriculture Under Threat

But not only is California now a fire-vulnerable land of browned, snowless mountains, rapidly dwindling water supplies, and dessicated, dying, beetle devoured plant life. It is a place that hosts the heart of US produce production. A vital source of food for the US and for the world that is now under threat.

Central Valley California, according to a new report in Think Progress, is the production hub for more than 90 percent of the United States’ fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s a condition that arose from a combination of slick marketing, a host of unique micro-climates suited to practically every form of vegetable, and a domination of (mostly corn and soy) mono-cropping throughout the productive regions of the Central US. Essentially, mono-cropping in the plains drove the majority of produce farmers to the West Coast.

And, as result, most of the fresh vegetables Americans enjoy are all grown from one basket. A basket that is now baking under a merciless California sun. Everything from lettuce to avocados to tomatoes to almonds to oranges, and so many more, are now at risk.

California Aquaduct

(The majority of California agriculture is irrigation-based — supplied by aqueducts like the one shown above. Aqueducts like this one also add flood risk due to enhanced potential of extreme rainfall events due atmospheric heating combined with land subsidence due to ground water depletion. Image source: Public Herald.)

Fully 80 percent of California’s water supply goes to food growers. It’s a stream of vital water that proceeds from California aquifers to farmers and then directly to your dinner table. A stream that Governor Jerry Brown has refused to cut at any cost. But despite increasingly draconian water rationing to other sectors, farms are still feeling a hit. In 2014, nearly 500,000 acres of cropland lay fallow. A number that could more than double by the end of this year. With so much of California’s water evaporating, with so many wells running dry, even water protected for farm use takes a hit.

In this way, ongoing drought in California is a direct threat to US food security. A fact that hasn’t been missed by food experts like John Ikerd who recommend a widespread re-localization of produce production to add resiliency to the US food supply in the face of growing climate challenges.

But the fact that we may need such a reorganization, together with the fact that the current California drought is an early, easier outlier of what is to come, highlights our vulnerability. Warming of the Earth System is already shocking the US and global food system to such a degree that it is calling into question the future of US produce production.

Strong El Nino is No Cure

Among many, hopes are that a strong El Nino may deliver a drought-breaking flood of moisture by the end of this year. And while there is growing indication that a monster El Nino may be developing in the Pacific, such an event would be no cure for poor climate-changed California. In fact, such an event could produce floods that further impact agriculture — stripping denuded landscapes and flushing vital soil nutrients down streams and into a eutrophying ocean.

The ground there is baked, subsided. The pores in the earth closed up, creating a tablet effect for water ponding. The fires have stripped trees and brush from hillsides, resulting in landslide hazard.

And the kind of rainfall a 2.5 to 3 C anomaly event (that some models are indicating) could generate would be extraordinary (especially when we add in the extra atmospheric moisture loading from overall human heating of 0.9 to 1 C above 1880).

For California, it looks like the option for ending epic drought is epic flood. And, with human caused warming, more drought will almost certainly follow any flood.

Links:

Megadroughts Projected For the American West

Lake Mead Water Data

California Department of Water Resources

Megadrought Predicted for the American Southwest

Steaming Equatorial Pacific Sees Winds Blow Toward Monster El Nino

Cosmos

California Drought Could Upend America’s Entire Food System

California Races to Protect its Forests

US Drought Monitor

Hat Tip to Andy in San Diego

Hat Tip to Spike

Leave a comment

200 Comments

  1. labmonkery2

     /  May 7, 2015

    Hi Robert – love your show. I’ve been following your blog for some time, and having just recently retired (34 yrs at ATT), I finally have some time to lend here. This article in particular covers a topic I have also been following for a while (the CA drought). And in reading your content, I also wanted to add that some additional water is now being drawn from the fracking industry to irrigate farms in the central valley. (We should be VERY afraid… AND OUTRAGED). Here’s a FB link that provides me with general info on water testing after spills, and other acts of man.
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Water-Defense/157397244377316
    I also live in San Diego, like Andy and enjoy his and others contributions to this feed.

    Reply
    • I can’t believe we are using fracking water for agriculture. Hydrozene almonds anyone?

      Reply
      • wili

         /  May 11, 2015

        The good news is: We will still be getting cheap nuts and veggies from CA.
        The bad news: They will kill you. ;-/

        Reply
        • And more bad news from the Arctic. It appears that we have the Chukchi, Beaufort, Hudson, Baffin and the Kara all melting at the same time. Heavy hit for early season. Extent at number 2 lowest and dropping toward the 2006 line like a rock.

  2. Excellent post by an outstanding team of Andy, Spike, and RS. Lot’s of data and context.

    Am sharing it here in Portland, OR, who is only moderately better off — only for now though.
    One main climate thread is that all are “snowpack dependent”, a term that may have use in relating climate change/collapse to a wider audience.

    Democracy Now has yet to respond to my requests to have Robert on their broadcast. That’s if R would appear.
    But if anyone else wants to join the effort and try, here’s a DN:
    Contact Democracy Now
    Send us a message – Story Idea.

    http://www.democracynow.org/contact?to=1

    Reply
    • Cheers, DT and thanks for all the kind words. You’re absolutely right about snowpack. A problem from Chile to India to the North American west and so many other places in between.

      I would be more than happy to chat with Democracy Now, if they’ll have me. So the efforts are very much appreciated.

      Reply
  3. synaxis

     /  May 7, 2015

    An excellent, informative, timely post, Robert.

    I had just finished reading Mike Adams’ take on the California drought and its consequences over at Natural News. Admittedly his political views may not sit well with most readers here, but I wonder if his apocalyptic outlook on the potential impact of the drought on residential property values might indeed be realistic all things considered.

    “Why the California water crisis will lead to a housing collapse, municipal bankruptcies and a mass exodus of climate refugees”

    http://www.naturalnews.com/049630_California_water_crisis_climate_refugees.html

    Reply
    • doug

       /  May 7, 2015

      I’ve written on this before, and am predicting a mass migration of people. I can’t believe everyone will flee North though. I foresee Georgia becoming massively populated with climate refugees out of Florida, and not all Californians are going to want to leave a sunny warm climate. Many may head to the Southeast as well. Your going to have to drag people kicking and screaming out of nice climates temperature wise. They moved to those areas for a reason.

      Reply
    • rayduray

       /  May 8, 2015

      Re: “but I wonder if his apocalyptic outlook on the potential impact of the drought on residential property values might indeed be realistic all things considered. ”

      The short answer is no. Mike Adams is a hysteric, from what I can tell. While California’s economy lost a couple billion on ag last year, it was rebounding nicely in the 97% of the economy which isn’t dependent on ag. Proof? Look at the surplus in CA tax revenues recently.

      In other words, agriculture simply isn’t that important to California’s economy. Furthermore the cities and industry have zero risk of running out of water any time soon.

      Reply
      • There’s a difference between completely running out of water and hitting increasing levels of water stress. Rationing, official or not, is the word for pretty much everyone in California now. Mike’s piece here is a bit ‘lighting your hair on fire,’ though. The economy will take a hit. It would take some more years of the same for a complete collapse of the kind Mike describes. Before that, I’m thinking the region would do some serious resource shifting. So there’s some flex for dealing with the situation, even though it’s very rough.

        What we may start to see is some industry reshuffling at first. If farms start to go, then you get this trickle of migration away from the impacted communities. Eventually, the trickle grows. But historically people tend to try to stick it out until there is basically no choice but to leave.

        Reply
      • One point I would like to add on CA economy beyond water dependent food, and for profit expport, crops — many $$$ come to CA through the DOD & NASA budget — plus any black budget $$$ from NSA/CIA enterprises with “defense” contractors.
        CA is like one big strip mall for the DOD, et al.
        And then there is the film and “entertainment” distraction industries — and tourism, and the drive anywhere at anytime populace.
        And then again, there are the Apple Me-devices, and the silicon crowd — all focusing on their respective little screens, ear buds inserted, while the climate and the world disappears.
        That;s a quick summation🙂

        OUT

        Reply
      • rayduray

         /  May 8, 2015

        Hi Robert,

        I agree with your ideas here. So far, the victims of the drought tend to be people who already are marginalized, such as the landless farm workers of Tulare County, or small plot farmers with shallow wells in the Central Valley who are being beggared by their richer neighbors drilling water wells to 2,500 feet at a cost of up to a million bucks a pop. Not many retirees can compete.

        Reply
        • Pretty much the same situation in São Paulo. Apparently slum dwellers are now being accused of ‘stealing’ water. Sad to see really. You get a bit of a pinch and we have the worst coming out in people. I’d like to see some instances where the more fortunate helped those less so or where communities/government stepped in to do the same.

    • Tom

       /  May 8, 2015

      synaxis: property values are way down the list of concerns when it comes to climate change that threatens our very survival (not to mention all the other species). The author of that article clearly doesn’t get it.

      Reply
    • JG Miller

       /  May 8, 2015

      I’m waiting for the concept of “climate profiteering” to enter society’s general discussion. I haven’t seen it yet, but I predict very soon. It might make the house-flipping of the 2000s look like child’s play. Given the nature of US capitalism, I expect people here to be increasingly vicious to each other economically as the century progresses.

      Reply
      • It’s already happening with people purchasing water resources out west, trying to profiteer on water scarcity. The ugly thing about pure capitalism is that you get people intentionally generating scarcity to make a buck. This quickly scales to desperation and instability. The climate equivalent to warlords in Somalia taking control of UN food aid. You get to instability lightning quick when you start playing zero sum games with climate change.

        Reply
      • David Nemerson

         /  May 8, 2015

        Naomi Klein spends a lot of time in “This Changes Everything” discussing “disaster capitalism.”

        Reply
  4. james cole

     /  May 7, 2015

    I noted in the video animation, showing business as usual scenario, Mexico rapidly goes into mega drought, and it spreads across the entire country very early on, with this disaster spreading north into the US South West. It looks like Mexico is ground zero for mega drought, and very soon in the near future, should business as usual prevail.
    Am I right in that observation, is Mexico really going to be the first and worst effected? If so, I see a human disaster of unprecedented repercussions on America. These people will have only one place to flee. Like we see in North Africa today, mass migration north.

    Reply
    • Yes, you are correct, in that Mexico’s climate has migrated, and is migrating, northward at a rapid rate as the polar ice melts, and the jet stream weakens.
      The mega drought covers a huge amount of western NA all the way north to the PNW and AK.

      Reply
    • The added heat in Mexico is brutal. evoration is greatly increased. You’d need a vital rainforest in place to protect against a 1-2 C warming. Beyond that, most regions near the tropics become less and less habitable. The heat begins to edge into extremes where fewer and fewer creatures – both plant and animal – can survive. First desertification, then wasting. Mexico is one of those regions more vulnerable due to its co-location between two bodies of water vulnerable to more rapid heating.

      Reply
  5. Andy in YKD

     /  May 7, 2015

    Shall we start a pool (pun intented) for how soon after the deluge and flooding starts that the MSM and public will be trumpting to the skies that the drought is over and “happy days” are back (for good).

    Reply
    • rayduray

       /  May 8, 2015

      Hey Andy,

      Put me down for January, 2016 headlines about raging flash floods in the San Gabriel Mountains due to the super El Nino starting to surpass the 1997-8 episode.

      Reply
  6. Colorado Bob

     /  May 7, 2015

    Wild animals in drought-stricken Western states are dying for a drink

    Endangered kangaroo rats are just one falling tile in the drought’s domino effect on wildlife in the lower Western states. Large fish kills are happening in several states as waters heated by higher temperatures drain and lose oxygen. In Northern California, salmon eggs have virtually disappeared as water levels fall. Thousands of migrating birds are crowding into wetlands shrunk by drought, risking the spread of disease that can cause huge die-offs.

    As the baking Western landscape becomes hotter and drier, land animals are being forced to seek water and food far outside their normal range. Herbivores such as deer and rabbits searching for a meal in urban gardens in Reno are sometimes pursued by hawks, bobcats and mountain lions. In Arizona, rattlesnakes have come to Flagstaff, joining bears and other animals in search of food that no longer exists in their habitat.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/animals-in-the-wild-are-dying-for-a-drink-in-the-drought-stricken-west/2015/05/06/260312aa-eac6-11e4-9767-6276fc9b0ada_story.html

    Reply
    • Right, animal,reptile, and insect populations are being decimated because of what we have done to the climate.
      I feel for their plight more than I do for my own or my fellow citizens.

      Reply
      • Dt, I often share those same feelings. The thought of the biosphere experiencing the sixth great extinction because of our selfish culture and activities crushes my heart. Animals are innocent like infants, and crimes done to them always seems especially cruel. When I experience the apathy of the general public in regards to addressing climate change, it causes me to not really care about the future of many. So many gladly contribute to their dismal future and could care less, and it’s hard for me to feel sorry for what’s in store for them. But the beautiful creatures that share this Earth, they are just victims of our heartless (and mindless) culture and don’t deserve what’s happening to them.

        Reply
        • Well, the poor will feel the pain first — as they are in places like São Paulo, Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Califirnia. But what the callous fail to realize is that there’s only a thin line now keeping them from fates they believe they’re immune to.

          For my own part, I find the suffering of anyone to be something we want to do our best to avoid. Something deserving of understanding and compassion, especially when we consider that those failing to see the dangers inherent to climate change and other Growth Shock related issues have been afflicted by a kind of mind numbing ignorance. Oedipus’ self-inflicted blindness. A disease of pride and perceived immunity from harm.

          In this case, I think it’s worthwhile to remember that when we harm and victimize, we also harm and victimize ourselves. And regardless of how powerful we are now, harm done comes back in forms terrible to do vengeance on the hand that inflicted.

          I think this is also true when it comes to the human plight. Those of us with clearer sight have a responsibility to attempt to guide those bereft of it. Even if they are willful, ignorant, prideful, vain little dragons sitting selfishly on their heaps of treasure and laughing at the pain of others. And, ironically, the best form of help we can give them now is defeat, humiliation, and loss of power.

    • The great wasting has begun. This is a planetary emergency and the government’s of the world are asleep.

      Reply
  7. doug

     /  May 7, 2015

    I believe when and if (when) a shortage is declared, it will be a watershed (pun intended) moment in creating awareness of the water situation in the Southwest. I also think it may be a watershed moment nationally as well, regarding climate change in general.

    A full wake-up call.

    But I do not think the situation *should* make us panic. That won’t help. What would help is a concerted and coordinated effort in the American West to manage this new reality regarding water. There is A LOT of room for improvement in how we manage water, and I am actually somewhat optimistic that we can figure out ways to use a lot less water. This is a good piece on what a shortage would mean.

    http://www.inkstain.net/fleck/2015/04/1075-what-a-lake-mead-shortage-would-mean-in-practice/

    Reply
    • Andy in YKD

       /  May 7, 2015

      Agreed. The BAU water company back room cronyism needs to be swept aside by a tsunami of ecologically based water harvesting and infiltration to rehydrate the southwest.

      Reply
    • I think the first thing these states should do is outlaw water for profit industries. Water is a public asset and should be managed as such.

      Reply
  8. Ralph

     /  May 7, 2015

    I see the westerly wind burst is back in the western equatorial pacific. It has never really gone away for what, two months now? Just varying in strength.
    It does indeed look like this El Nino is really kicking in.
    I remember a comment from about a year ago, while we were waiting in suspense to see if El Nino would happen, that El Ninos forming late in the year are often strong ones.
    Maybe this should be seen not as a 2015 El Nino, but a very very late 2014 El Nino. Will it also be very very strong? Time will tell.

    Reply
  9. Loni

     /  May 7, 2015

    Great job Robert, and I’ve noticed an uptick in your posts. That cannot be a good sign.

    Here from my vantage point in Northern California, and the Six Rivers National Forests in Trinity County, one can look out any of my windows and see dead or distressed fir and pine trees. I’ve got some that I’m going to dump so they can’t disease any others, but signs are everywhere of drought. I’m in the hinterland at 600′ elevation.

    I would not be surprised that by the end of this summer, many more people might become hip to that fact that we’re in serious shape, it happens when one goes hungry.

    Take care my friend, you are doing so much for so many as is, I hope you are giving yourself a break.

    Reply
    • This is the test, Loni.

      If a strong El Niño forms and the RRR is not disrupted by a strengthening storm track. If those storms instead ride into Canada, Alaska, and the Arctic, then we know that drought is pretty much a permanent condition for the west. That the region must learn to rely on monsoonal and tropical moisture instead.

      If a strong El Niño breaks the RRR, then the storms will likely be extraordinarily intense. but then it’s back to the long term drying pattern which is already well established.

      Reply
  10. Greg

     /  May 7, 2015

    California’s disfunctional step sister is ahead in the game of drought and this is the quote from the head of their water management for the greater Sao Paulo metropolis (Sadesp), keeping in mind this was said in an open military requested briefing, but not I assume, designed for general public consumption (haven’t seen honesty before this from him) regarding what happens beginning in July if Sabesp’s plans for water emergency management don’t work out “… It will be terror. We will not have power, we will not have electricity … It will be a doomsday scenario. Thousands of people and the social chaos that they can trigger. There will not only be a problem of water shortage. It will be much more serious than that … But I hope it does not happen. ”

    http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&nv=1&prev=search&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=pt-BR&u=http://operamundi.uol.com.br/conteudo/samuel/40285/possibilidade%2Bde%2Bcaos%2Bsocial%2Bpor%2Bfalta%2Bde%2Bagua%2Bem%2Bsp%2Bmobiliza%2Bcomando%2Bdo%2Bexercito.shtml&usg=ALkJrhg8BjlhZQ0D4Xbwfmh8rvnv3YPOPQ

    Reply
  11. Dave Person

     /  May 7, 2015

    Hi,
    In addition, California has little water to fight wildfires. It is a perfect storm.

    dave

    Reply
    • That’s a rough situation.

      Reply
    • Right, all those helicopter buckets, and Super-Scooper aircraft dropping into empty lakes and reservoirs.
      The extremely dry foliage will burn very fast, and the winds will be unpredictable and sporadic as well.
      Very rough indeed.

      Reply
  12. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 8, 2015

    “like Lake Mead in Northern California”

    s/b

    “like Lake Mead on the Nevada / Arizona border”

    Reply
  13. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 8, 2015

    I think I posted this on the previous thread as it was being superseded by this post (thus moving the discussion). It may be worth sharing so I’m dropping it here. Apologies to anyone who saw it before Roberts new post.

    *********************************************************************************************************

    The drought in the Brazilian metropolis of Sao Paulo has become so severe that local authorities are considering bringing in military personnel to cope with the possible social chaos.

    With over 11 million residents, Sao Paulo is Brazil’s most populous city and the country’s economic center. But senior officials at Sao Paulo’s water facility said residents might soon be evacuated because there is not enough water, to bathe or to clean homes.

    Note: the emergency construction is to try to get the Billings Dam water in line for the city & county. The problem is that water is severely contaminated and is unfit for consumption (or much else) and it may not occur in time (not sure how close / far they are from getting this tepid sewage to the populous).

    http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Military-Could-Step-in-Over-Brazil-Drought-Chaos-20150506-0040.html

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 8, 2015

      ” Note: the emergency construction is to try to get the Billings Dam water in line for the city & county. The problem is that water is severely contaminated and is unfit for consumption (or much else) and it may not occur in time (not sure how close / far they are from getting this tepid sewage to the populous).”

      Hell of a picture here of the slum built around the Billings Dam –
      São Paulo Drought 2015: Photos Of Historic Water Crisis In Brazil Show City On The Brink Of Collapse [PHOTOS]

      ” An aerial view shows illegally built slums on the border of the polluted water of Billings reservoir in São Paulo, Feb. 12, 2015. According to local media, the Billings dam supplies 1.6 million people in greater São Paulo, and the state government wants to treat the water to be adequate for human consumption, adding to the complexity of securing a safe water supply during the drought. Reuters ”

      http://www.ibtimes.com/sao-paulo-drought-2015-photos-historic-water-crisis-brazil-show-city-brink-collapse-1912767

      Reply
      • james cole

         /  May 8, 2015

        I like the picture of the one man taking water from a construction site well. He loads his container, and right next to him two brand new nice cars wiz by him. This expansion of personal cars across the nations of the world is what is causing the climate crisis. In one photo you see both cause, and result. CO2 emissions from cars and a desperate man taking water from a construction site in a city of 11 million people.

        Reply
    • Looking at this now…

      A mass planned relocation of 11 million people due to climate stress would be absolutely unprecedented. But we will probably see that in a number of locales this century even under many of the better scenarios.

      I am on travel tomorrow and Saturday. Will try to get another update in on Sunday.

      Thanks to everyone for the fantastic posts!

      Best

      –R

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 8, 2015

        The fecal matter is about to hit the rotating device in Brazil.

        Reply
      • Wake

         /  May 8, 2015

        there is a decent thread on it at peak oil, has been going for many months.

        Of note: the Brazil utility website has the data on water supply, but shows cantareira at 19.7% filled versus last year at 8%. They are two different numbers. On the same basis, this year is -10%

        It seems to me like one of the most dangerous things in the world over the past several years, though it has gotten little enough attention. Hope it rains a lot, which was the reason for my el nino question elsewhere.

        El Nino has differental impacts i think in Brazil, but I don’t understand them well enough top focus on a watershed

        Reply
      • synaxis

         /  May 9, 2015

        Here’s the link to the Peak Oil São Paul collapse thread – currently on part 3. The main contributor is vox_mundi who should receive a medal for his exceptional efforts in maintaining the information flow on this topic (providing translation of articles in Portuguese as well).

        http://peakoil.com/forums/s-america-s-largest-city-on-verge-of-collapse-pt-3-t71301-40.html

        Reply
      • Fair warning everyone —

        The peak oil forum, though often providing good discussion on all issues related to sustainability and collapse, also issues content that is completely slanted against renewable energy. Furthermore, many of the writers to that forum are former oil industry types and, as such, one could well post MORAL HAZARD WARNING writ large over the entire forum.

        In addition, one should also consider that the forum generally portrays loss of access to fossil fuel resources as an existential threat to civilization. In fact, there’s no way civilization can survive if it continues to burn fossil fuels.

        Earlier posters to peak oil forums includes Robert Rapier — a commenter now for Rupert Murdoch’s Faux News.

        End fair warning…

        Reply
  14. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 8, 2015

    If an El Nino forms, one of my concerns is the populous immediately forgetting the need to be careful with water, and simply turn the hoses back on full blast.

    Old Brazilian saying “The first thing rain washes away is the memory of a drought”.

    Thx for the quote & hat tip Robert.

    Reply
    • labmonkery2

       /  May 8, 2015

      It rained like dogs and cats at my place in Santee last night (for 10 min) and again just a bit ago – so you’re correct MY drought is over… until tomorrow 😉 Flow meter in Fashion Valley does show an increase from yesterday. http://www.cnrfc.noaa.gov/river_data.php

      Reply
  15. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2015

    The G.O.P.’s War on Science Gets Worse
    By Elizabeth Kolbert

    During last fall’s midterm election campaign, “I’m not a scientist” became a standard Republican answer to questions about climate change. The line seemed to invite parody, and Stephen Colbert (among others) obliged. He played clips of House Speaker John Boehner, then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Florida Governor Rick Scott all offering, more or less word for word, the same refrain. “Everyone who denies climate change has the same stirring message,” Colbert observed. “ ‘We don’t know what the “F bomb” we’re talking about.’ ”

    Link

    Reply
  16. Key Aquifers, like Lake Mead in Northern California,

    Northern Arizona.

    Best,

    D

    Reply
  17. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2015

    Oklahoma City Just Smashed Its One Day Rainfall Record By Nearly 5 Inches

    Before yesterday, the largest one calendar day rainfall total was 2.61 at the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City. The new record stands at more than 7 inches of rain.

    Link

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 8, 2015

      Manhattan sees record rainfall for one day after storm brings flooding
      More than 3 inches of rain at the Manhattan Airport

      The National Weather Service in Topeka is reporting Manhattan has seen the most rainfall in more than 100 years after an evening storm passed through the city.

      A post on social media from the center said an official observation recorded 2.97 inches at the Manhattan Airport around 7 p.m.

      The previously daily rainfall record, according to the center, was set in 1908 after 2.91 inches was recorded in one day. …………………………….. Less than an hour later Shawn Byrne, a meteorologist with the service, said the Manhattan Airport reported 3.37 inches of rain.

      Link

      Reply
      • wili

         /  May 9, 2015

        But people should note that this is Manhattan, KANSAS.

        Reply
    • JPL

       /  May 8, 2015

      One of my IT hardware reps is based in OK and her employer (Dell) is sending them all home at noon today ahead of another round of wicked storms.

      Same thing happened to her earlier this week, on Wednesday, apparently. Maybe big business will start paying attention when the bottom line is impacted more and more frequently by severe weather? (not holding my breath…)

      John

      Reply
  18. California Energy and Water Consumption an a Ban Fracking song

    Sign and Share for a Ca. Residential Feed in Tariff. Go to the youtube site, look six inches below video, click on Show More, then click on blue link to sign the petition.


    Attachments area
    Preview YouTube video We Need To Ban Fracking.

    Reply
  19. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 8, 2015
    Reply
  20. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2015

    UN ‘using climate for new world order’: Newman

    Tony Abbott’s chief business adviser has accused the United Nations of using climate change to impose a “new world order” under its control.

    Maurice Newman, a climate change sceptic and chairman of the prime minister’s business advisory council, believes the UN is using global warming as a tool to create an “authoritarian world” with concentrated political authority.

    “(The UN) is opposed to capitalism and freedom and has made environmental catastrophism a household topic to achieve its objective,” he wrote in an opinion piece in The Australian on Friday.

    Link

    Reply
    • sunkensheep

       /  May 9, 2015

      This is the kind of organization our Liberal Party is. They hire political allies over those who would give factual advice.
      Also note this NWO nutjob was previously apointed to the board of state broadcaster ABC.

      Reply
      • Note that Australia’s ‘liberal’ party is roughly equivalent to the Republican Party in the U.S.

        Reply
      • sunkensheep

         /  May 11, 2015

        yes, even though their name is Liberal, they are in fact centre-right. The current mob are a handpicked group of the “true beliver” neoliberal ideologues.

        Rumor has it that they are in communication with the USA Tea Party, exchanging strategies and ideas at semi-regular meetings.

        Reply
        • UK, US, Canadian, Australian and other countries have links to this international political brand in this way. It’s a globe-spanning ideology with amazing reach and terrible impact. They are deeply connected to fossil fuel industry profits and dominance. So the political challenge is quite extraordinary, especially when we consider that this far-flung group appears willing to attempt any trick imaginable to retain dominance.

          We can see that now in their growing hold on media outlets – Murdoch’s empire being the most visible, but with hands in even the supposedly more liberal (left) sources (Koch funding of ‘liberal’ NPR) for example. My local WTOP radio in Maryland and DC may as well be Fox News light. Berman and Fossil Fuel related interests get constant time in ads and receive slanted support in commentary. These international trade deals, which have been so destructive to middle classes the world over, also get hyped.

          The party in Australia should be called neo-liberal, which isn’t liberal at all, just a new incarnation of the old right. The same right that caused so much trouble through the guilded age and suffered so many well-deserved defeats through the mid 20th century but that is now back in new and horrible form as a globe-spanning force. One that is helping to enforce a slide into climate disaster and a vast expanding impoverishment all in one go.

    • Feeds directly into the whole crappy ‘fear government, cooperation is evil’ meme.’

      Folks, I’ve worked with people at the UN and they are not the enemy. They are the help. They are actively trying to put out a million fires around the world with what amounts to as garden hoses. If/when São Paulo collapses, it will be the UN that provides relief assistance. Certainly not the ‘free market’ these Newman types seem to worship. The free market, thus far, has done everything it can to ignore the problem utterly. Recent market reports on Brazil don’t even mention the drought. It doesn’t fit into their quarterly, monetary frame of reference.

      The UN represents our better angels and the people who demonize it are those who have this deep-rooted hatred for anyone down and out, those who continue to drive this wedge deep into our civilization — cutting off the less fortunate, generating desperation. They are the enemy. Not our governments which we should push to act responsibly. If there is one thing that will hasten collapse it is this insidious fear of cooperation, this demonization of the agencies that enable us to pull together to help those who need it most.

      This whole NWO fear is a bogeyman set up by people who wish to disempower you. To disenfranchise you from the tools available to you through government. If you and I are isolated in this way, made cynical in this way, then we are utterly powerless. It’s a disease of the mind, the heart and the spirit. And it’s ripping us apart.

      Reply
  21. Andy Heninger

     /  May 8, 2015

    Great posting Robert. Thank you.

    Another California disaster that is queued up, waiting for the inevitable intense El Niño driven rains, is the flooding of Sacramento.

    From http://www.sacbee.com/news/weather/article2575974.html
    “What if a superstorm strikes Sacramento? Flooding danger puts the capital at risk of a disaster worse than Sandy”

    Sacramento has the greatest flood risk of any major urban area in America. A levee breach in Sacramento could cause many deaths and cripple the economy for 1.4 million people in the metro area who depend to some degree on the city of Sacramento staying dry.

    …most Sacramento residents actually live below the water level flowing by in the rivers, especially when rivers swell in a storm. This means recovering from a levee break could take a very long time, because it could take weeks or months just to pump out the water from a flood.

    And, of course, the already inadequate preparations are based on historical flooding, not what could happen with a warmed world.

    One minor correction, you mentioned “a domination of grain (mostly corn and wheat) mono-cropping throughout the productive regions of the Central US.” Probably soy beans, not wheat.

    Reply
    • Andy Heninger

       /  May 8, 2015

      Following up on my wheat vs. soy comment above, here’s the breakdown of major crops produced in the U.S., from http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/ag101/cropmajor.html

      Wheat is still substantial.

      Crop			Harvested Area (million acres)	Cash Receipts from Sales ($ billion)
      Corn (grain)	84							63.9
      Soybeans	73.8							37.6
      Hay			55.7							6.7
      Wheat		45.7							14.6
      Cotton		9.5							8.3
      Sorghum (grain)	3.9						1.3
      

      (I wish there was a comment preview; I don’t know if this table will end up readable or not.)

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 8, 2015

        (I wish there was a comment preview; I don’t know if this table will end up readable or not.)

        Amen.
        It did.

        I wish there was an edit feature , for when I say stupid stuff. And the ability to post more than one link at a time.

        Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 8, 2015

      Andy Heninger –
      Good point , I would add :

      The levee system in the delta there is one of the oldest, and poorly maintained in the US . Many were built using mules, chopped willows, and reeds as reinforcing layers. And the river bed as been rising since those fools in the 1850’s washed all the earth down stream when hydro – mining stripped the gold fields. Along with all the mercury those fellows used to capture the gold.

      It’s a very old bill from the Gold Rush that’s about to come due.

      Reply
      • Good points, CB. A lot of the Sierras, etc. got flushed down to the Delta.

        I refuse to wear gold, or silver, extracted from the earth at great cost jewelry.
        Plus there is the added FF energy used to forge the metal.

        Reply
  22. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2015

    Andy Heninger –
    I read pretty good piece a day or two ago on how we got into this food box. All federal money flows into our export crops. Corn, soybeans, and cotton.

    The broccoli farmers are not riding on a wave of federal price supports. But the article pointed to North Carolina , and the collapse of tobacco farming, and how they changed .

    Give me a few hours I’ll remember the link.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 8, 2015

      Here it is –

      California’s Drought Could Upend America’s Entire Food System

      “They neither have the land that is producing it, nor do they have the human capital,” Hamm says. “On the other hand, historically, in a place like Iowa, they had a very diverse agriculture with a lot of fruits and vegetables, which says that they have the climatic and environmental capacity to do it.”

      To switch from a single crop to a diverse portfolio might seem daunting, but it’s change that has already begun to happen elsewhere. Thirty years ago, late spring would have signaled the beginning of the growing season for the most predominant crop in western North Carolina: tobacco, which had been grown in the region since the late 1600s. Federal quotas instated as part of the New Deal assured farmers a minimum price for their product in exchange for a set yield, a program that gave small farmers a measure of security for growing a high-value but labor-intensive crop. In 2002, the tobacco industry in North Carolina accounted for $800 million — roughly 12 percent of the state’s agricultural revenue.

      That all changed in 2004, when quotas were phased out as part of a President George W. Bush’s American Jobs Creation Act.

      “It was a big change, like a hurricane coming through,” Charlie Jackson, executive director of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), told ThinkProgress, explaining that three decades ago, western North Carolina had some 7,000 tobacco farms — according to the 2012 census, that number is down to 94.

      But farming didn’t disappear in western North Carolina — instead, it transitioned, diversifying to produce fruits and vegetables for local markets with the help of ASAP. From 2002 to 2012, the number of farms in the area fell from 12,212 to 10,912, but the number of farms selling produce directly to the local community increased from 740 farms to 1,190. Instead of sales dropping with the decline of the tobacco industry, sales to consumers actually grew over $5,000 during that time. According to an ASAP report, by switching from tobacco to produce, farmers in the southern Appalachia’s could provide local communities with almost 40 percent of their yearly fruit and vegetable needs.

      If the tobacco quotas had remained in place, Jackson says, the switch to regional produce farming might have been slower. “My guess is that there would still be a lot of farms growing tobacco,” he said.

      Western North Carolina, in a way, was already primed for the transition to supplying diverse produce to the region. Because of the area’s mountainous geography, farms were already small, and they occupied different climatic regions, from 1,000 to 5,000 feet in altitude. Farmers in North Carolina hadn’t invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in specialized farming infrastructure, so they were more free, in a sense, to adapt to the changes ushered in by the end of tobacco quotas.

      “It’s really an interesting thing, where something that could have been disastrous ends up being transformative,” Jackson said.

      So will the California drought be disastrous, or transformative? Ask John Ikerd what he thinks, and he leans toward transformation.

      “I’m not really pessimistic. If we decide we want to change agriculture, I think it’s quite conceivable that we can recreate this whole food system,” he said. “We just need to wake up to the fact that we’ve got a problem and start working on it. Once we do that, the solutions are there.”

      http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/05/05/3646965/california-drought-and-agriculture-explainer/

      Reply
    • And re export crops: most, if not all, are GMO and Roundup ready.

      Ps I smell the odor of Roundup and related chemicals all the time around here in PDX.

      Reply
  23. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2015

    There are several sets of graphs. Going in different directions.

    Co2 and sea level going up, and fresh water and ice going down. Each one has new hockey stick glued on to the old hockey stick.

    The new hockey sticks are approaching 90 degrees

    Reply
  24. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2015

    dichotomy –
    We are debating the inflation of footballs, and Brazil in debating sending troops to it’s largest city because they are running out of water.

    Reply
  25. Collapse of Ice Sheets in the Ancient Climate

    Reply
  26. Thanks everyone for the good information about what is happening. We need to talk about removing the excess CO2 in the air and oceans to solve the problems. See http://www.skyscrubber.com for engineering solutions using current technologies.

    Reply
    • Ouse M.D.

       /  May 8, 2015

      I’m afraid You missed the point.
      MORE energy is not going to solve this. Especially if it’s only going to remove future emissions from the already existing old technologies.
      This is not a Wall Street Type Financial Crisis- from which “we can grow ourselves out”.
      Growth is the Problem. Or I should say Catastrophe. Planetary Omnicide.
      Setting up parallel systems just gonna consume more energy and resources.
      This is not an engineer’s problem.
      Lifestyle change is needed- and not from high to so- called low- carbon society.
      But from energy- junkie growth- dependent society to a low- energy society, steady- state or even shrinking society.
      Even cancer cells cannot grow til the end.

      Reply
      • Jettisoning fossil fuels and transitioning to renewables is a key step to sustainability. Can’t make it otherwise.

        Reply
      • Greg

         /  May 8, 2015

        Ouse, may be right. This will be a key philosophical/societal choice going forward and once we get fully past the wasted debates about is this or is this not happening we will see political forces aligning around low or high energy society going forward. All western history points to high energy if society holds together. Low if not with likely patches of high among the elites. Mad Max coming out next week. Saw preview tonight. Low energy has some real non-romantic possibilities along withe the idyllic.

        Reply
        • The desirable outcome is high quality, high efficiency, low energy and materials use/impact. If it’s electronics based, the scaling puts us on the right curve. That said, there are serious additional issues — human population restraint, how and what we consume for food being foremost of contention.

          But we have to get past the fossil fuel block to really even have that debate. And those saying ‘change in behavior’ given current incentives may as well be preaching abstinence to teenagers as a means of birth control.

  27. How the California Drought Is Increasing the Potential for Devastating Wildfires

    “Forest Service anticipates spending more than $1 billion and mobilizing more than 10,000 fires to fight forest fires this season….

    “We are seeing wildfires in the United States grow to sizes that were unimaginable just 20 or 30 years ago,” U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell told lawmakers this week. ”

    http://time.com/3849320/california-drought-wildfires/

    Reply
    • This strikes home–and fear– with a son-in-law who fights forest fires for the NPS and spent time on the Yosemite one.

      Reply
      • What an incredibly brave person. I hope we all do honour to their bravery and act with urgency to reduce any increased climate risks that he, his colleagues (and all the rest of us) could face in the future.

        Reply
  28. Tom

     /  May 8, 2015

    For CO Bob (and all y’all, from CA to the East Coast):

    Little Feat – Willin’

    Keep up the good work guys!
    Tom

    Reply
  29. Robert, wish you would revisit the forecast from ? last winter? that the jet stream would be moving very slowly this year and there would be a likelihood of storms lingering for extended periods. That seems to be panning out and everyone’s shocked. Also recent AP report on the dearth of large hurricanes affecting the US over the past 10 years or so coupled with Ana coming very early in the season this year. What do you see for this summer?

    Reply
  30. rustj2015

     /  May 8, 2015

    Another request — from Union of Concerned Scientists — that concerned citizens contact their representatives and urge defeat of HR 2042 — the “Polluters Permission” bill (per UCS).

    Call and tell your member of Congress that we all must act on global warming.
    http://action.ucsusa.org/site/R?i=b6VYz5BQWoFpoaaE6AfAeQ

    Reply
    • Tom

       /  May 8, 2015

      That would be great if they’d listen to us. Since the corporatocrazy came into being, nobody in a position of power notices anything unless wheelbarrows of cash accompany the requests.

      Reply
      • rustj2015

         /  May 9, 2015

        Well, yeah, I get that point of view, but I’d say to try it anyway if you think you have a decent chance of being heard. My representative has shown some courage currently, in supporting continued negotiations with Iran, and in preliminary confrontation about TPP. ‘If you are not at the table, you’re on the menu.’
        The conclusion depends on whether you believe your statement to your rep is a slogan or not.

        Maybe this is a useful thought:
        “An animating vision must rest on some conception of human nature, of what’s good for people, of their needs and rights, of the aspects of their nature that should be nurtured, encouraged and permitted to flourish for their benefit and that of others. The concept of human nature that underlies our visions is usually tacit and inchoate, but it is always there, perhaps implicitly, whether one chooses to leave things as they are and cultivate one’s own garden, or to work for small changes, or for revolutionary ones.
        “This much, at least, is true of people who regard themselves as moral agents, not monsters—who care about the effects of what they do or fail to do.
        “On all such matters, our knowledge and understanding are shallow; as in virtually every area of human life, we proceed on the basis of intuition and experience, hopes and fears. Goals involve hard choices with very serious human consequences. We adopt them on the basis of imperfect evidence and limited understanding, and though our visions can and should be a guide, they/are at best a very partial one. They are not clear, nor are they stable, at least for people who care about the consequences of their acts. Sensible people will look forward to a clearer articulation of their animating visions and to the critical evaluation of them in the light of reason and experience. So far, the substance is pretty meager, and there are no signs of any change in that state of affairs. Slogans are easy, but not very helpful when real choices have to be made.”
        Noam Chomsky, Powers and Prospects, “Goals and Visions,”

        Reply
  31. Wake

     /  May 8, 2015

    Does anyone know of a good explanation of likely effect of this El Nino on Brazil? Specifically on the drought affecting the cities and separately the agricultural base?

    I have read a lot about them but I cannot tell if there is a consistent impact, if it varies by season the El Nino peaks in, and lots of other things

    Also on US midwestern crops, where past ones seem to be a slight positive (?)

    There seems to be a consensus on California, I wonder as a result if there is a consensus elsewhere

    Reply
    • The tendency is for drought in Brazil coincident with El Niño.

      For the U.S. Midwest, intensification of the subtropical jet results in additional moisture for spring and summer. Autumn and winter El Niño intensification of the Pacific storm track results in a general increase in storms moving across the U.S. And particularly impacting the West Coast.

      This year, climate patterns are somewhat unusual due to the Pacific warm pool and a number of other factors.

      Reply
    • Andy in San Diego

       /  May 8, 2015

      It generally stunts the monsoon in India.

      Reply
  32. Robert In New Orleans

     /  May 8, 2015

    Elon Musk: Demand for Tesla’s home battery is ‘crazy off the hook’
    http://fortune.com/2015/05/06/elon-musk-tesla-home-battery/
    Video:
    http://for.tn/1PpxBdA

    Reply
  33. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 8, 2015

    Competition for depleting resource….

    Utah is building a pipeline from Lake Powell to provide water to southern Utah. They are also plumbing the last available river in the north of the state.

    Reply
    • Andy in San Diego

       /  May 8, 2015

      Simpler map (easier to see)

      Reply
      • Andy in San Diego

         /  May 8, 2015

        That is an older map, they have since then extended the pipe plan to this.

        Reply
      • Outstanding research there, Andy.

        As an image conscious photographer I add some photos to illustrate:

        In the memory of David Brower, and my year (2013) of living in Flagstaff, AZ, I will add more threads to this unfolding.
        Plus, in 1976, myself and three others did land in a Learjet for refueling at Page, AZ. We were on a sightseeing trip at the time — a whole story in itself.

        Glen Canyon Dam & Lake Powell:

        Reply
      • ‘Navajo Generating Station is a 2250 megawatt coal-fired power plant located on the Navajo Indian Reservation near Page, Arizona. The plant consists of three 750 MW units that provide power to Arizona, Nevada, and California. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power owns 21% of the power generated by the plant. The station has three 236 meter high chimneys, which are the tallest structures in Arizona.

        The plant releases more than 19 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. In 2004, it was the nation’s fifth largest power plant emitter of carbon dioxide and eleventh largest emitter of nitrogen oxides.

        The power plant is served by coal mined at Peabody Western Coal Company’s Kayenta Mine near Kayenta, Arizona and hauled by the Black Mesa and Lake Powell railroad. The Kayenta mine ships about 8 million tons of coal each year to the power plant, which uses up to 25,000 tons of coal per day when all units are fully running. [A BIG AND] Each year the plant also uses nearly 8 billion gallons of water from Lake Powell for cooling.
        -sourcewatch org/index Navajo_Generating_Station

        Reply
      • -Still close to the main thread — if you’ll pardon me.
        I met David Brower at CSA sustainable food event in Santa Barbara/Goleta, CA. He was quite a person. He fought hard for the area now under the waters of Lake Powell — and he made compromises.

        My 1976 Lear 24B sightseeing trip sightseeing trip going anywhere between 200 mph & 600+ mph, and at altitudes between 200 & 40,000? ft in an aircraft with the highest rate of climb (at the time) of any non-military aircraft. At times we were much above airliner traffic, and below the military. The sky is dark blue and almost black up the “less dense” air. With less friction we could go to speeds close to the speed of sound. (Never mind the “refreshments” we shared in the passenger cab.

        But now I curse these jets, and the airliners, when I see what they do to the atmosphere.
        Sorry for the tangent but personal threads are of value.

        LearJet 24B

        Reply
      • Andy in San Diego

         /  May 9, 2015

        DT, the jet subject is nothing but 20/20 hindsight.

        Plenty of things I would regret the same way (first wife comes to mind big time, and a few major benders, some mornings, some jobs, knowing some people).

        I see us as having a spendable carbon budget to fix things, and get them set for the future. Every day we kick the can down the road, that budget gets smaller. We’ve kicked the can past the yard stick.

        We are past that number, and have been for some time. Yet we still dilly / dally, and fall prey to those that are more concerned about short term gain, disinterest with civilizations future, and idiot who parrot falsehoods.

        Reply
      • Thanks, Andy in SD.
        It was just a yarn about seeing Lake Powell, and the upper atmosphere up close, and some of the story around the sightings.🙂

        Ps It is good that you are involving your daughter here.

        Later

        Reply
    • Robert In New Orleans

       /  May 8, 2015

      Southern Utah just happens to be a very scenic desert, but it is still a desert. The state of Utah just lacks the courage to be honest with the residents in the southern part that their future residency is very problematic. Not that we haven’t seen this before in other locations mind you!

      cough, gag, sputter, honk, weeze…

      Reply
      • Andy in San Diego

         /  May 9, 2015

        But they need their Kentucky Blue Grass lawns….how dare you!!!!

        That is their conversation now, I’m glad to see that they are rethinking some of their water wastage. Per Capita, Utah is very high for the west in water usage.

        Reply
  34. entropicman

     /  May 8, 2015

    They are draining Lake Powell to keep Lake Mead pumpable, with no guarantee that the reduced snowpack will refill Lake Powell.

    Meanwhile a pipeline is planned to remove more water from Lake Powell.

    Where is the extra water going to come from? Does it even exist?

    Reply
    • A rare case where I agree with entropicman. There are too many straws going into too few cups. Not sustainable at all. The West needs to plan for reduced water availability — not see new draws on already stressed sources.

      Reply
    • Andy in San Diego

       /  May 9, 2015

      They are planning based on current metrics, not future.
      That is the downfall of so much of this.

      Reply
  35. Rex Wahl

     /  May 8, 2015

    The Republican majority in congress has determined that climate change, sometimes known as global warming, is a threat to national security. The have drafted a bill toward this “new” threat making the statement, printing, display, re-display or utterance of the words “Climate Change, Global Warming, Climate Disruption, Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Glacial Melt and Sea Level Rise” a terrorist act. Anti-terror laws and agencies will be used to combat this national threat. The president is expected to sign the measure. (Snark, but not by much).

    Reply
    • Andy in San Diego

       /  May 9, 2015

      You’re kidding right? Please say you’re kidding. Otherwise it would mean they have stopped suckling at the teat of American / Global deconstruction. If this was true, I would be crippled as I know that those politicians care more about campaign contributions then their nation (what we used to call treason).

      Reply
      • Rex Wahl

         /  May 9, 2015

        My comment was “kidding” or snark. However it would not surprise me in the least if it came true in the coming two years. Wisconsin and Florida have gagged their state employees, why not go national? Fascism–dare not speak counter the the party line.

        Reply
    • Andy in San Diego

       /  May 9, 2015

      Rex, I was 99.999999999999999999% sure it was sarcastic. Thank you for verifying.
      Otherwise I would have to eat crow (as would we all), plus we would be stunned and have heart attacks..

      I agree it will come to that. They will admit. And somehow they will claim that they were on the side of science and knew it the whole time and were trying to fix it (re elect me? plz? As that is what is important).

      Reply
  36. German climate researchers prepare for rising seas of data

    It’s nice to have the latest kit, but a supercomputer upgrade is about to bring the German Climate Computing Center, DKRZ, a big problem: a shortage of space.

    Not space for the computer itself, but for the data it generates.

    DKRZ runs climate models on its supercomputer, projecting how our planet’s weather will evolve over decades or even, in some cases, hundreds of millennia, from the last ice age and into the future.

    All those models generate huge volumes of data—40 petabytes of so far—that DKRZ archives for future reference, allowing researchers to analyze the models’ output in different ways. The center also offers to store the output from climate models run by other supercomputing centers, forming a world climate studies archive drawn on by researchers around the world.

    The center’s supercomputer upgrade, switching from one using IBM’s Power chips to an x86-based machine made by Bull, means that it will accumulate as much data every six months as it has over the whole of the last five years.

    That’s because it will be able to simulate atmospheric changes on a more detailed grid. “Every successful model produces four to 10 times more data,” said DKRZ’s Ulf Garternicht.

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/2920572/german-climate-researchers-prepare-for-rising-seas-of-data.html

    Reply
    • Andy in San Diego

       /  May 9, 2015

      I would so love to use one of those for a few hours of data runs

      Reply
  37. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 9, 2015

    I’ll be introducing my daughter to this blob, site this weekend. She is the next generation that will inherit the world. She’ll likely be posting questions. I know you all will be very understanding and will help her understand the science & implications of what we face.

    The more of her generation we engage, the better the world will be.

    Thanks,
    Andy

    Reply
    • Cheers, Andy. Looks like it’s mostly just you and I tonight.

      I’ll be more than happy to help give your daughter the warmest of welcomes. Does she have an interest?

      Also, just noticing an odd weather and Arctic Ocean confluence ongoing this year. Have you seen anything in the science lit on currents moving northward through the Bering Strait and into the Chukchi? Some action on this last year. But looks more involved now.

      Reply
    • It always gives me hope when I hear of the next generation taking an interest in climate change. They’re the future, and sadly will be forced to face the consequences of our actions (inaction).

      Reply
  38. Andy in YKD

     /  May 9, 2015

    Snip: “Scientific advisers should resist the temptation to be political entrepreneurs, peddling their advice by exaggerating how easy it is to transform the economy or deploy renewable technologies, for instance.”

    and. . . ““Most models assume that this can be achieved using a combination of approaches known as BECCS: bioenergy (which would require 500 million hectares of land — 1.5 times the size of India) and carbon capture and storage, an unproven technology.”

    Link: http://www.rtcc.org/2015/05/06/leading-scientists-accused-of-offering-false-hope-on-climate/

    Reply
  39. Andy in YKD

     /  May 9, 2015

    The final paragraph of weasel words should be bookmarked so we can return to it after Paris for a quick check. I guess the confidence comes from all the other climate agreements that have had such a positive impact.

    “But we are confident that Paris can put in place the policies, pathways, structures and finance that can assist all nations to progressively ramp up their ambition over time in order to make the transformations needed to stay under the internationally agreed goal.”

    Reply
    • Andy in San Diego

       /  May 9, 2015

      They’ll do that. They always do.

      I personally read a lot of denial posts & blogs just so I understand their perspective and justifications. I read one 2 days ago, it used 2 dates one year apart (June xx, 2013 & June xx 2014). Since ice depletion was less on that date in 2014 versus 2013 an entire theory (denial-factoid) was spun up.

      The rational was that since there was less depletion on that day 1 year later, thus temperatures were dropping and we should see ice balances increase on Greenland, Antarctica as well as Arctic ice expanding for may years back to the 1979 level starting now.

      An entire storyline was spun up based on this one point of noise (ignoring the other 40+ yrs of data). The summary was that we are on the precipice of cooling (since CO2 does nothing) and need to get ready for perfect temperatures for the next 25 years.

      The comment section was amazing (sad?) with the denial-heads doing nothing but verbally nodding without verifying the conjectures.

      It was sad.

      I now understand. We care more about Tom Brady’s deflated balls than the planet. The human race has no more purpose than the NFL draft. Planet doesn’t need us.

      We will personally investigate inflated footballs and verify everything. Beyond that, well…we’re busy & tired, we’ll just parrot crap we’re fed from our favorite infotainment feed.

      Reply
  40. OT, but this is an interesting article about the incipient trans-Nicaragua canal, a subject that has come up on the threads here a couple of times recently. It appears as though all is not rosy with the project – with luck, a combination of local guerrilla resistance and stiff economic competition from an expanded Panama canal (already 85% complete and with second-phase expansion planned) could kill it. James Barends, in the comments, makes some observations (which I have not yet verified) relating to the limited capacity for US East Coast ports, which are mostly shallow, to handle the very large ships that the Nicaragua Canal is designed to accommodate. This could also call into question the demand for this new route..

    Here is the link: http://www.ibtimes.com/china-doesnt-want-finance-nicaraguas-canal-panama-canal-authority-says-1881455

    Reply
  41. Kevin Jones

     /  May 9, 2015

    Perhaps it’s just me but I’m (obsessively) rooting for higher resolution to come from the relevant researchers regarding ancient CO2. For now, this seems to be where we are: http://www.onearth.org/earthwire/carbon-dioxide-400ppm

    Reply
  42. News Release

    Western Snowpack Melts Early, Little Remains

    WASHINGTON, May 8 2015 – West-wide snowpack has mostly melted, according to data from the fifth 2015 forecast by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

    “Across most of the West, snowpack isn’t just low – it’s gone,” NRCS Hydrologist David Garen said. “With some exceptions, this year’s snowmelt streamflow has already occurred.”

    Garen said that for much of the western US, the snowpack at many of the stations is at or near the lowest on record. Months of unusually warm temperatures hindered snowpack growth and accelerated its melt.

    “We still have some snowpack in northern Colorado, western Montana and southern Wyoming,” said Garen. “In addition, snowmelt from Canada will flow into the Columbia River.”

    “It’s been a dry year for the Colorado River,” NRCS Hydrologist Cara McCarthy said. “Snowmelt inflow into the Lake Powell Reservoir is forecast at 34 percent of normal.”

    http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2015/05/0133.xml&contentidonly=true

    Reply
  43. PDX USA
    The added atmospheric ash and smoke from the burning forests and permafrost gave a boost to the warm colors and hues in this flower. The pm sun was still 20 degrees above the horizon.

    Reply
  44. Antarctica: The great melt-off

    Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven are studying the effects climate change is having on the world’s largest ice cap at the South Pole.

    http://www.dw.de/antarctica-the-great-melt-off/av-18439294

    Reply
  45. Preview of HBO Vice: Our Rising Oceans with Eric Rignot

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  May 10, 2015

      Thanks for these vids, todaysguestis. Perhaps I should go back to small boat building….

      Reply
  46. Colorado Bob

     /  May 9, 2015

    SALT LAKE CITY — A water strategist warned Friday that the drought is here to stay and said Utahns need to take water conservation seriously.

    “We need to stop calling it a drought. This is now the new normal,” said Will Sarni, who has worked for both the public and the private sectors over the last three decades. “A ‘good rain’ is not going to make life good.”

    Sarni was the keynote speaker at the Salt Lake Chamber’s “Water is Your Business” forum Friday. He said both public and private leaders are playing “catch-up” as they create new policies to combat current water shortages. Part of the rush is because they are running short on time as water projections created to mimic the year 2025 are a reality in 2015.

    http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=34569330

    Reply
  47. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 10, 2015

    Anyone else catch Vice on HBO this past Friday? A lot of coverage on water issues (scarcity & safety). Worth the watch if you can find it.

    Reply
  48. Colorado Bob

     /  May 10, 2015

    Populated Puget Sound sees stark shifts in marine fish species

    Date:
    May 8, 2015
    Source:
    NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region
    Summary:
    The most populated areas of Puget Sound have experienced striking shifts in marine species, with declines in herring and smelt that have long provided food for other marine life and big increases in the catch of jellyfish, which contribute far less to the food chain, according to new research that tracks species over the last 40 years.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150508091604.htm

    Reply
    • We keep seeing that repeat itself all over — the usual species go into severe decline and jellyfish thrive.

      This follows on the ‘heels’ of squid populations exploding in the E. Pac. and other locales.

      – Some bits from Oct. 2010 Natl. Geo.:

      Jumbo Squid Invading Eastern Pacific

      “It does seem like it’s an expansion of range, rather than a relocation,” said John Field, a research fisheries biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Santa Cruz, California.

      Scientists also suspect that global warming may play a part in the migrations.

      “These high-turnover animals with really high metabolisms are the kinds of animals that you would expect to respond first and respond more to long-term warming trends,” Field, the NOAA scientist, said.

      “The fact that this is happening in both hemispheres to me really points to a physical mechanism, a climate-related mechanism.”

      To find out what the squid are eating, Field has for the past two years examined the stomach contents of about 500 animals.

      “We see that the most frequently occurring prey item that they eat is Pacific hake, and that’s troubling because that’s one of the biggest fisheries on the West Coast,” he said.

      The squid are also chowing down on anchovies, sardines, market squid, and smaller rockfish.

      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/03/070330-giant-squid_2.html

      Reply
  49. Colorado Bob

     /  May 10, 2015

    In ‘Rise Of Animals,’ Sir David Attenborough Tells Story Of Vertebrates

    Famed British broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough has been lending his calming voice to nature documentaries ever since TV was in black and white.

    And the 89-year-old is still at it. His new two-part special called Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates premieres May 13 on The Smithsonian Channel. It explores new fossil evidence — much of it from China — to trace key evolutionary developments in vertebrates that enabled amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs and mammals to achieve their success around the world.

    http://www.npr.org/2015/05/08/405260453/in-rise-of-animals-sir-david-attenborough-tells-story-of-vertebrates?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=storiesfromnpr

    Reply
  50. Colorado Bob

     /  May 10, 2015

    Thanks Neven – That one is certainly prettier than yesterday’s MODIS image, in more ways than one. The action along the Mackenzie reveals forecast highs for today of:

    Fort Simpson, 21 °C
    Norman Wells, 19 °C
    Inuvik, 12 °C
    Tuktoyaktuk, 8 °C

    I fully expect that less ice and more water will be visible by the time today’s MODIS images have arrived.

    Posted by: Jim Hunt | May 09, 2015 at 21:40

    http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2015/05/20142015-winter-analysis.html#comments

    Reply
    • Pulse of water hitting the fast ice in Mackenzie Delta now. Melt signature visible on MODIS. Fast ice going to go quite soon.

      Reply
  51. Colorado Bob

     /  May 10, 2015

    Warming Could Bring More Downpours Like OKC’s

    While the 24-hour rain total ranked as the third highest for the city, the 48-hour total came in at No. 2 in the rankings. Other areas in central Oklahoma may have seen even greater rainfall totals — up to 12 inches — according to the Oklahoma Mesonet Ticker.

    The rains Oklahoma City saw in just 24 hours were more than 70 percent of the rainfall total normally recorded for the whole year up until May 6, Climate Central calculated.

    National Weather Service records suggest that in terms of 24-hour rainfall, yesterday’s storm was a 1-in-25 year event. Much of that rain fell in just a 6-hour interval, though, which is closer to a 1-in-100 year event, according to the same records

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/warming-more-downpours-oklahoma-18970

    Reply
  52. Ouse M.D.

     /  May 10, 2015

    Off-topic, but very relevant.
    Before western media the 9th May Russian Parade misinterprets:

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  May 10, 2015

      Yeah, Ouse M.D. And what is all our oil doing under their sand (and tundra). Unprecedented global cooperation regarding our collective Real Problem(s) does mean no exceptions….

      Reply
    • In my opinion, this is what fossil fuel based energy dominance looks like. In other words, the west has little incentive for these bases without the underlying dependence on oil. Remove oil and the political excuses for many of these bases evaporates. Problem is, Russia, dependent on oil, also begs this west vs east paradigm and underlying resource competition. Switching to renewables would undermine the growing crisis. Reliance on fossil fuels intensifies both it and all other aspects of the resource curse.

      Reply
  53. Kevin Jones

     /  May 10, 2015

    I’d appreciate others opinion on this. Robert? (nobody said we were in this to win a popularity contest)
    http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programitem/pgQk7ADKPV?play=true

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  May 10, 2015

      James Hansen posted this interview (above link) on his website.

      Reply
    • What bit?

      I absolutely agree that 2 C is not safe. And the current push to move the 2 C limit to 2.5 C or more is far, far less safe. The limit we should be pushing for now, as absolutely ridiculously difficult as it may be to achieve, is 1.5 C or less. This means very rapid draw down in carbon emissions to zero and then figuring out how to make human societies carbon negative.

      Reply
  54. Jamin Greenbaum on Circumpolar Deepwater

    Reply
  55. synaxis

     /  May 10, 2015

    Informative Al Jazeera article on the potential for a Siberian methane release.

    10 May 2015, Jassim Mater/Al Jazeera:

    “The world’s potentially catastrophic gas problem: Massive amounts of powerful methane gas under the Arctic have some scientists worried about apocalyptic results”

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/04/worlds-deadly-gas-problem-150408100404610.html

    Reply
    • rustj2015

       /  May 10, 2015

      I note again the on-going problem of moderation that some of our experts engage in as they are interviewed in media. The Al-Jazeera article presents this dichotomy of agency.
      The more “tempered” view of the methane threat is expressed by David Archer:
      “I am most concerned about temperatures by about 2040 or 2050, as we start approaching the 2 degrees Celsius values that all the climate negotiations are trying to avoid.”
      His moderation of concern is couched in the assurance that climate negotiations are trying to avoid the global temperature rise by 2 degrees Celsius.
      For one, there are those among us (and in this statement, Archer is one) who believe data indicate 2 degrees more are oncoming. However, the moderation predicts the sensitivity breach will not come for another three or four decades. It is controversial to shout “No, potentially sooner!”
      For another, there are discussions of estimable representatives at these COP meetings — of the COP meetings themselves — that they serve dominant capitalist interests and delay and defuse the need for making any kind of binding international “agreements.”
      The results are that the “precariat” are not aroused while the evisceration of global systems is accelerated.
      I believe this site is one of the notable ones that are effective scales of the complexity of earth’s dynamics, and that the readers and contributors are continually called on to decide their own and their collective agency.

      Reply
      • rustj2015

         /  May 11, 2015

        Sorry for the “shouting” — not intentional. Have to learn “end bold.”

        Reply
      • Andy in San Diego

         /  May 11, 2015

        Rus,

        I’m impressed you could figure out even one attribute (bold / italics…etc…). Ihaven’t a damn clue how to do any of that one here.

        Show off!!!!!

        Reply
    • wili

       /  May 11, 2015

      Also relevant: “The climate policy mantra — that time is running out for 2 °C but we can still make it if we act now — is a scientific nonsense. Advisers who shy away from saying so squander their scientific reputations and public trust”

      http://www.nature.com/news/policy-climate-advisers-must-maintain-integrity-1.17468

      (Thanks to Chuck Hughes at RC for the link.)

      Reply
      • Dave Person

         /  May 11, 2015

        Hi Wili,
        Very nice link. It should be a call to arms for scientists. There comes a time when scientists working on applied research need to speak truth to power at whatever risk to their careers. I’ve personally been through this. Agencies and organizations universally favor the pragmatists and are seduced by the “win-win” solution or plan no matter how scientifically dubious. The other danger to scientific integrity is the misconception that it is always better to be at the table than not. This is not universally true because it is really only valuable to be at the table if you actually have influence over the policies or decisions. If not, your scientific integrity and reputation can become a mask for the agency as it implements bad or scientifically incompetent policy. In that case, it is better to walk away and insert your knowledge into the issue by some other means.

        dave

        Reply
  56. james cole

     /  May 10, 2015

    The same fossil fuel industrialists who are behind global warming denial, are also up to their eyeballs in seeking to access and develop Arctic Sea gas and oil. While telling lies about global warming these same corporations covet the resources opening up due to melting arctic ice. In particular, they worry about competition from Russian Arctic Sea resources in the coming global competition to harvest the gas and oil melting ice reveals. “Russia has the world’s largest supply of natural gas. With the melting of the ice around the Arctic due to climate change, Russia will have a massive land border with the oil-and-gas rich Arctic Sea.” Notice the admission! “With the melting of the ice”

    Also, Greenland is in the same boat, with melting ice comes a resource rush! I was recently watching a Danish TV Drama, and it involved the Danish PM confronting Greenland’s head of state. While this was just a drama on TV, it did reveal a bit about how Danes feel about Greenland. The PM said “We get the impression all you Greenland people are doing here is sitting around waiting for the Ice to Melt and for Oil to be discovered, making you all rich.” “While you sit around waiting for the melt, your problems go unaddressed.”

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  May 10, 2015

      I can only think of an old movie where, in the midst of an oceanic shipwreck, the men would rip the jewels from the necks of women. As if their sudden riches would be of any use to them in their new world of desperation and death.

      Reply
  57. “The last great regions of pristine wilderness – from Asia to the Amazon – are threatened by an unprecedented road-building programme financed by aggressive development banks with little interest in protecting the natural world, a leading environmental scientist has warned.

    Massive infrastructure and road-building are at the heart of huge development projects around the world, justified as vital attempts at helping the poorest attain a higher standard of living.

    Scientists claim that we are living in the most explosive era of road and infrastructure expansion in human history – from the plains of the Serengeti to the rainforests of Sumatra. By 2050, they estimate, there will be an additional 25 million kilometres (15.5 million miles) of new paved roads globally, enough to circle the Earth 600 times.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/last-great-regions-of-pristine-wilderness-from-asia-to-amazon-under-threat-from-massive-roadbuilding-projects-scientist-warns-10238746.html

    Reply
  58. Ouse M.D.

     /  May 10, 2015

    http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,1149.700.html

    Take a look at the Climate Reanalyzer surface temp forecasts for 17th May…

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  May 10, 2015

      Let’s hope those shades of green don’t materialise that far north.

      Reply
      • Looking pretty brutal this week. NWT highs in 70s and 80s. Deep penetration of above freezing temps into Beaufort and Chukchi.

        Reply
  59. Intense Wildfire Season Expected in West

    ‘On average, wildfires burn six times the acreage they did 40 years ago, while the annual number of wildfires over 1,000 acres has doubled from 50 during an average year in the 1970s to more than 100 each year since 2002, Climate Central research shows.”

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/intense-wildfire-season-in-west-expected-18962

    Reply
  60. Colorado Bob

     /  May 11, 2015

    Tropical Storms, Tornadoes, a Cat 5 Typhoon, and a Blizzard, Oh My!

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2982

    Reply
  61. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 11, 2015
    Reply
  62. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 11, 2015

    Does this equate to a low flow tough summer?

    Ski hills in Alberta, B.C. suffering from unusually warm weather

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/ski-hills-in-alberta-b-c-suffering-from-unusually-warm-weather-1.2960515

    Reply
  63. Colorado Bob

     /  May 11, 2015

    Florida Joins West Coast States With Record Heat, April 2015 NOAA Report Says

    The first four months of 2015 were the warmest on record in three western states, while Florida had its hottest April on record, according to a just-released report from NOAA.

    Alaska, Arizona and California each shattered their record warmest January through April period in 2015. Nevada, Oregon and Utah experienced their second warmest opening four months of any year. Five other western states chalked up a top 10 warmest January through April:

    – Washington, Idaho, Wyoming: Third warmest
    – Colorado: Fifth warmest
    – Montana: Sixth warmest

    California topped its previous record warm January through April set one year ago by 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit, an impressive feat considering temperature data averaged over many locations statewide makes a few tenths of a degree difference significant.

    Link

    Reply
  64. Colorado Bob

     /  May 11, 2015

    Idaho Drought: High and Dry

    Boise • Most of Idaho is now in drought, according to federal agencies, but only extreme Southern Idaho is in the same boat as California and other western states. But next year could be grim if Idaho depletes the cushion in its reservoirs.

    Ron Abramovich usually dons snowshoes to walk through three feet of snow and more to measure the season-ending snowpack at 6,100-foot-high More’s Creek Summit east of Idaho City.

    This year, the trek to the measuring site was over scant snow. Abramovich, last week in his snowshoes, had to climb over fallen branches, across flowing streams and over dry topsoil.

    “It looked like June 1st instead of May 1st,” said Abramovich, water supply specialist for the U.S. Conservation Service.

    Link

    Reply
    • “It looked like June 1st instead of May 1st,”
      We hear that sort of thing a lot these days: “No Spring — just straight into Summer.”

      Reply
  65. phil s

     /  May 11, 2015

    Here’s a neat little tool to help picture what your city or town will be like in future, just released by Australia’s CSIRO.
    https://theconversation.com/a-new-website-shows-how-global-warming-could-change-your-town-39682

    You get to choose your warming scenario (the slider even goes negative?!) or use the IPCC RCP’s and it pops out the towns your area will resemble. No accounting for extremes and chaos, but its a start.

    Using analogues we can explore questions such as “What will the future climate of Melbourne be like in the year 2050 under a high emissions scenario?” or “What will Perth be like in a climate that’s 2C warmer and 10% drier?”.

    Reply
  66. – MIT has an interesting effort in progress on collective climate solutions. They could gain some useful insights here at RS.🙂

    ‘To address climate change, MIT lab seeks the wisdom of crowds’

    Climate CoLab’s crowdsourcing project approaches its daunting challenge by first breaking the issue of climate change into dozens of smaller questions: How can we reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation? How can we shift public attitudes toward climate change? How can we increase urban energy efficiency?

    Each question forms the backbone of a contest in which experts, amateurs, and even artists are invited to propose potential solutions. Currently, 17 contests are active on the project’s website. Another seven are set to open soon.

    All entries are posted to the site, where anyone can read them, leave comments, and ask questions.

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/05/10/address-climate-change-mit-lab-seeks-wisdom-crowds/uZUNE1MoIg22e995R5nyZI/story.html#

    Reply
  67. – A computational scenario from the NYT:

    A Climate-Modeling Strategy That Won’t Hurt the Climate

    It is perhaps the most daunting challenge facing experts in both the fields of climate and computer science — creating a supercomputer that can accurately model the future of the planet in a set of equations and how the forces of climate change will affect it. It is a task that would require running an immense set of calculations for several weeks and then recalculating them hundreds of times with different variables.

    …a so-called exascale computer would consume electricity equivalent to 200,000 homes and might cost $20 million or more annually to operate.

    For that reason, scientists planning the construction of these ultrafast machines have been stalled while they wait for yet-to-emerge low-power computing techniques capable of significantly reducing the power requirements for an exascale computer.

    …But Krishna Palem, a computer scientist at Rice University, believes he has found a shortcut.

    ,,,Dr. Palem says his method offers a simple and straightforward path around the energy bottleneck. By stripping away the transistors that are used to add accuracy, it will be possible to cut the energy demands of calculating while increasing performance speeds, he claims.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/science/inexact-computing-global-warming-supercomputers.html?_r=0

    Reply
  68. wili

     /  May 12, 2015

    Australia’s BoM has now called it: “the Bureau’s ENSO Tracker has been raised to El Niño status”

    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/

    Reply
  69. Andy in SD, here’s something in your area, at Scripps:

    San Diego Symposium Explores Human-Climate Interactions


    At the conference, the scientists are looking at how humans evolved during periods of climate change in ancient times and saying we can adapt to future changes as well.

    “Climate change is the most important challenge human society faces in this century,” said Charles Kennel, a climate scientist and distinguished professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. “We are entering a world new to human experience, and we do not know what is going to happen. We can only know what has happened. We can learn how our early ancestors adapted to the huge changes in climate of the ice ages.”

    The free public symposium, “Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution: Past and Future,” will be at 1 p.m. Friday. Interested attendees can register here. A link to a live webcast of the symposium will be posted here on Friday.
    http://www.kpbs.org/news/2015/may/11/public-symposium-exploring-human-climate-interacti/

    Reply
  70. – A bit of albedo hypothesizing here, if you will:

    Additional anthropogenic human caused stationary and transient point source albedo as an impact on the atmospheric heat matrix.

    After a short rain in April, 2015, I photographed the types and colors of light, plus the amount glare from the sun as it shone through atmospheric moisture and particulate. The plan was to show how my camera and lens rendered colors reflected by the sunlight and the straight on colors and glare when pointed directly at the sun.

    As I neared the shiny metal sign in the upper left, I felt quite a bit of reflected heat from it. Notice too, the, still bright, glare spot on the street surface.
    In the context of albedo and atmospheric heat, I have to wonder just how much solar heat is being redirected, and possibly adding more heat, to the air and its contents.
    If, on first pass, the sun heats up a column/volume of atmosphere — heat is also transferred on the redirect(s).

    The amount of reflected heat from the metal sign surprised me. It may not mean much on the greater context — but there are many millions of surfaces like this in our current world.
    Things like windows, car windshields, and even a shiny roadway with a film of water on it acts like a mirror. And if you think of a thin film of water on black asphalt — some heat will be reflected but some will also speed evaporation. Maybe many short bursts and columns of heat and moisture crisscrossing the sky?

    Possibly this amounts to nothing much but an inventory of anthropogenic albedos should include this. (Urban heat island studies usually focus on buildings and streets absorbing solar heat.)

    Does this make sense? Or am I talking over my head?
    OUT

    Reply
    • And the view looking directly towards the sun. Note two tone look — and the very large glare/reflection spot on the street surface.

      Reply
    • I always thought surfaces with a high albedo were “better” in regards to warming, since they reflect a large portion of sunlight before it’s absorbed as heat. Although if all those surfaces are redirecting sunlight towards darker surfaces (like asphalt) I suppose that can contribute significantly over time. One thing I do know from experience is the power of the urban heat island effect. I run pretty much every day, and on warm, sunny days when I’m running on asphalt it sometimes feels like there’s more heat coming from the ground than from the sun above me. Same thing if I’m laying dark shingles on a roof on a warm, sunny day. The roof gets so hot the shingles are difficult to handle with bare hands. All these dark surfaces that have replaced fields and wooded areas, which stay much, much cooler on summer days. Of the thousands and thousands of cities across the globe, this must add up to a substantial retention of solar energy that would have otherwise been radiated into space, or used for photosynthesis.

      Reply
      • You’ve got it, Ryan. High albedo prevents warming by reflecting incoming solar radiation. Low albedo traps heat. We may see these properties in dramatic action in the Arctic this summer. Particularly in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

        Reply
  71. Colorado Bob

     /  May 12, 2015

    Lethal Seas

    A unique coral garden in Papua New Guinea shows what the future may hold as oceans acidify. Airing May 13, 2015 at 9 pm on PBS

    Program Description

    A deadly recipe is brewing that threatens the survival of countless creatures throughout Earth’s oceans. For years, we’ve known that the oceans absorb about a quarter of the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. But with high carbon emissions worldwide, this silent killer is entering our seas at a staggering rate, raising the ocean’s acidity. It’s eating away at the skeletons and shells of marine creatures that are the foundation of the web of life. NOVA follows the scientists making breakthrough discoveries and seeking solutions. Visit a unique coral garden in Papua New Guinea that offers a glimpse of what the seas could be like a half-century from now. Can our experts crack the code of a rapidly changing ocean before it’s too late?

    Link

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 12, 2015

      Solving corrosive ocean mystery reveals future climate

      The big difference between the PETM and the alteration to the current climate is the speed of the change, said Alexander.

      “Today we are emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere ten times faster than the rate of natural carbon dioxide emissions during the PETM,” said Alexander. “If we continue as we are, we will see the same temperature increase that took a few thousand years during the PETM occur in just a few hundred years. This is an order of magnitude faster and likely to have profound impacts on the climate system.”

      Link

      Reply
      • The solution is to stop emitting carbon dioxide. For some reason no-one seems to get this. And hydrocarbons, despite marketing to the contrary, are not necessary for modern civilization to exist.

        Reply
  72. Colorado Bob

     /  May 12, 2015

    New warning about climate change linked to peat bogs

    A leading Siberian scientist has delivered another stark warning about climate change and said melting peat bogs could speed up the process.

    Professor Sergey Kirpotin, director of the BioClimLand Centre of Excellence for Climate Change Research in Tomsk, said he has concerns over the ‘awful’ consequences in Russia’s sub-Arctic region.

    He said that a thaw of the frozen bogs, which take up as much as 80 per cent of the landmass of western Siberia, will release billions of tonnes of methane – a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide – into the atmosphere. That, he concluded, will greatly speed up the effects of global warming around the world with potentially devastating consequences.

    Link

    Reply
  73. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 12, 2015

    Take a glance at Great Slave Lake are in NWT on climate reanalyzer (temp / temp anomaly) if you get a chance. Toasty hot.

    Reply
  74. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 12, 2015

    DT, here’s one for PNW.

    Okanogan area drying up due to water stress. Hard choices are being discussed.

    For those not familiar with the area, the rain forests are coastal, once you get inland it is not the photo op lush green rain forest.

    http://thetyee.ca/News/2006/08/17/Okanagan/

    Reply
    • Thanks, Andy.
      The Okanagen is a unique place, and also very vulnerable to CC. Back in the ’70s the women folk would head up there (From the Fraser Valley.) and bring back loads of peaches and tomatoes that we would can.
      There are parallels between it and CA Central Valley. Both are: “The reason, Stephens explains, is that here in British Columbia, “we’re snowpack dependent.” And with way too much development. All will endanger fish populations.
      It is sad — and it’s been in the making for a long time with plenty of warning signs ignored.
      Ps I (1st wife too) had ented a small, and verdant, bit of farmland at Aldergrove, BC. But it is now a NAFTA FF trucking warehouse. Google Earth is good for revisiting places.

      Reply
  75. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 12, 2015

    A BC Megadrought? We’ve Had Them Before

    What the ‘xerothermic’ age tells us about a drier future.

    http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2015/03/11/BC-Megadrought/

    Reply
    • Thanks.
      The piece had a nice description of flora ranges moving because of CC.

      “As the B.C. coast became relatively dry and warm, the early forest of pine, spruce, balsam fir and hemlock suddenly gave way to disturbed forest dominated by Douglas fir and alder. Charcoal particles among the pollen grains suggest that fires were common in the hot, dry climate, favouring both alder and Douglas fir as fire-adapted species.

      If the xerothermic period was dry, however, it didn’t stay that way. Over a period of many centuries, Douglas fir declined in abundance, and increasing western hemlock and ultimately red cedar reflect a wetter climate between 7,000 and 4,500 years ago, leading ultimately to the temperate rainforest of today.”

      Reply
    • Andy, did you hear about the NDP (New Democratic Party) taking power in Alberta. They are much less taken with FF and Tar Sands ruling the province.
      In 1970, I arrived in BC to Dave Barrett’s NDP in power. It was great while it lasted.

      Reply
  76. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 12, 2015

    Lake Mead at 1077.80, roughly 2’9″ wiggle room left. Lake Powell looks like it is getting some run off the past few days finally. Primarily due to inflows it is up 1/2 foot.

    Reply
  1. California’s Great Wilting — Lake Mead Heading Toward Rationing Line, Extreme Fire Hazard as 12.5 Million Trees Stand Dead, Agriculture Under Threat | Artic Vortex

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