Climate Change + El Nino Brings Epic Floods to Texas

Texas Floods

(MODIS satellite shot of the epic storms that drenched Texas on Tuesday. Extreme rainfall events of this kind are more likely in a warming atmosphere. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

For the US, it (global warming +  El Nino) means an increasing likelihood of heavy precipitation events from the southern plains states through the desert southwest. Storm track intensification through the Pacific to North America means that extreme rainfall events are a distinct possibility for states like Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico.  — robertscribbler blog’s El Nino + Global warming forecast posted on May 15, 2015.

*   *   *   *   *

It’s a summer of El Nino. And it’s a summer when human-caused global warming is now hitting new record hot extremes. A combination that spells big trouble for severe weather in various regions around the globe, including in the center mass of the United States.

If it was only a summer El Nino, the Central US wouldn’t have too much to be concerned about. Sure, the added Pacific Ocean heat would amplify the subtropical jet stream and assist in trough development over the region. Both factors that would somewhat intensify rainfall events during a typical summer.

But this is not a typical summer El Nino.

This summer El Nino is happening in conjunction with record low sea ice extents in the Arctic (see Baked Alaska graphic below) and record hot global temperatures in the range of +1 degrees Celsius above 1880s averages. The record low sea ice levels aid in ridge and trough development — spurring the formation of hot-cool temperature dipoles that feed storms. Extreme weather firing off in an essentially changed atmosphere. An atmosphere heated to levels likely not seen in all of the current Holocene interglacial and probably at least since the Eemian 150,000 years ago. It’s an extra level of heat that loads the atmosphere with a substantially greater amount of moisture (amplifying the hydrological cycle by 7 percent for each 1 degree C of warming). So when the storms do fire, they are now likely to dump much higher volumes of rain than we are used to.

Dipole anomaly NASA

(Extraordinary hotter north, cooler south dipole anomaly pattern that helped to feed instability and storm development over the Central US this week. The extreme warming in the Northwest Territory, Alaska and near Arctic Ocean region is a signature of global warming related polar amplification and sea ice loss in the Northern Hemipshere polar zone. It also likely has a teleconnection with both the current El Nino and the warm ‘blob’ of abnormally hot water in the Northeast Pacific. Image source: Earth Observatory — Baked Alaska.)

Such was the case with Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday where hundreds of homes were flooded, numerous lives lost, and hundreds of water rescues performed. In some regions, all-time record rainfall amounts were shattered. In Houston on Tuesday, hourly rainfall accumulations exceed 4 inches per hour (11+ inches daily accumulation for that city) — an extraordinary rate of rainfall no drainage system is designed to accommodate. Residents were stranded in cars for hours due to washed out roads or watched on in horror as the first floors of their homes were turned into strange flood-fueled washing machines.

It was a deluge that many compared with past record rainfall events spurred by hurricanes. But this was no hurricane, just a wave of intense storms rippling down an extreme trough in the Jet Stream and encountering an equally extreme atmospheric moisture loading.

Make no mistake, it was climate change and related human heating of the atmosphere that provided the steroids that pumped what would have been garden variety moderate to strong storms into the monsters witnessed on Tuesday and Wednesday. A billion dollar flood that, without climate change, would almost certainly have just been another summer shower.

Most news coverage of the event was decidedly narrow — focusing only on the extreme instances of weather and not on the clear global warming context. On Tuesday, Bill Nye, who’s been acting as a climate gadfly to an otherwise climate-change mum media posted the following tweet:

Bill Nye Climate Change

Billion$$ in damage in Texas & Oklahoma. Still no weather-caster may utter the phrase Climate Change. — Bill Nye

And as we’ve come to see time and again, the related climate change deniosphere led by the likes of Fox News and National Review had an epic meltdown as a result. Either denying climate change is happening at all or, as was the case with National Review, denying that policy action could have any impact to help what is an already worsening situation.

But the critical elements of the current event appear to have been lost in all the fuzz. The first is that it was predictable, if we just look at current weather (El Nino, insane trough development, and atmospheric moisture loading) in a climate change context. And the second is that if we continue to ignore climate change, people will not be warned in advance of events like the one that occurred last week. Events that we have proven are indeed predictable see here if looked at in the climate context (and if weather forecasters simply do the same).

Whether we respond rapidly through responsible policy action (which will certainly help to reduce the harm we are now causing, but not prevent all of it), or whether we listen to the voices of nonsense that helped get us into this mess in the first place and continue to delay action, there is certainly a degree of far worse weather in the pipe. And failing to report on climate change, as the media has largely done, increases risks for loss of life, property damage, and overall disruption.

So far, the flood death count for this week is 30 souls. If you’re a weatherman who’s ignoring climate change, or if you’re a media organization that’s preventing weather forecasters from talking about climate change, this should weigh heavily on your conscience.

Links:

Bill Nye Says Climate Change a Factor in the Texas Floods

Texas Flooding a Preview of Future Extreme Weather Events

LANCE-MODIS

Earth Observatory — Baked Alaska

How Global Warming Wrecks the Jet Stream, Amps up the Hydrological Cycle to Cause Dangerous Weather

Hat-Tip to Bruce

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116 Comments

  1. Yeah, I’ve been sitting over here in SE New Mexico thinking, hmm, that’s really kind of random that this is happening just over there as opposed to here.

    Last two Septembers it rained about a foot over the course of a few days, not far from here. I expect this coming September to prove interesting. I was looking at maps the other day and working out which direction to head, should things get intense.

    Reply
    • That Pacific Storm track looks like it’s starting to grow some muscles. Huge high forecast to develop over the Beaufort over next few days. These teleconnections look to be ramping up.

      Reply
    • Andy in San Diego

       /  May 29, 2015

      Having lived through the 97/98 super El Nino in Southern California I am watching this closely. I have already determined which fences to knock planks out of to allow water to flow to the street from the back yard without becoming a foot deep standing swamp.

      The back yard will be devoid of anything lighter I prefer not to wash away.

      We are seeing a lot more moisture in the air then the past few years, but it still remains to be seen if it is simply June gloom.

      If this is a significant (or super) El Nino combined with the past ~20 years of changes in place, this may be very interesting indeed.

      Reply
      • There is talk about this being like the 1992 El Niño. I lived in West Los Angeles then, and I remember seeing water spouting out of a storm drain and elevating the storm drain cover.

        Reply
  2. wili

     /  May 29, 2015

    Predictions from the drought monitor show continuing likelihood of much higher than normal rain for the foreseeable future for much of the south, southwest and west, as is normal for El Nino years. Let’s hope that not too much of that extra moisture comes in the form of these biblical deluges.

    Reply
  3. Any news about methane content in the atmosphere over the Canadian tundra since the heat wave? (I have a hard time understanding how such ridiculously high temperatures in the arctic can be denied…aside from outright psychosis.)

    Reply
    • Peaks in the range of 2300 to 2400 ppb lately. Rather worse than last year.

      Reply
      • danabanana

         /  May 29, 2015

        Noctilucent Cloud seasons kicked off on the 19/05/2015 but the ‘daisy’ (AIM spacecraft readings) has not been updated since the 21/05/2015:/

        Reply
  4. Leif Knutsen

     /  May 29, 2015

    People the world over have no problem accepting the fact that changing a relatively small patch of the South Pacific less than hand full of degrees F and the resultant El Nino river of warm waters across the Pacific can have a profound change in yearly climates. Not only here in the USA and the whole Western Hemisphere but Europe and Africa as well. The reality of changing a much larger patch of the Arctic from supper cold ice to +32 F open waters on our boarders and assuming it will be inconsequential defies reason.

    While weather folks talk up El Nino, they are blind to other huge areas of warmth popping up here and there with the equivalent or even larger heat bubbles that metastasize hither and yon. That “Blob” in the Gulf of Alaska has been parked there for the winter that I know of and has not received one comprehensive in context media mention to my knowledge. Similarly there are others, though smaller, they are not insignificant, on the East Coast as well as scattered globally. Each has a tremendous amount of energy represented.

    While discussing this oversight the other day with my Net Cell I mentioned that the current possible El Nino which is sharpening up to be a “gum swallower,” as well as some of the other major heat bubbles would warrant a name of their own and suggested “Rouge El Ninos.” Another with some language back ground found the Spanish term “Pillo” for rouge and suggested “El Pillo.” We all quickly liked the term and have been hawking it and would like to see it have legs.

    It inspired me to pen a couple of ditties:
    El Pillos here,
    El Pillos there,
    El Pillos popping everywhere.

    Grab your hat
    Mend your boots
    El Pillo’s growing roots.

    Reply
    • danabanana

       /  May 29, 2015

      The heat Blob off the NW coast has been parked there for most of the last 3-4 years now.

      Reply
    • wili

       /  May 29, 2015

      Yeah, everyone accept that a relatively narrow band of one ocean can greatly effect weather patterns all over the world

      Yet some people seem to doubt that an _entire_ ocean (the Arctic, of course) changing over from being mostly frozen all year to being mostly unfrozen for a growing segment of the year would have much of an effect outside of the immediate region!

      Reply
  5. How bad has the weather been in Texas lately? Why, it’s been so bad that they even made a Wikipedia page covering the phenomenon.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Texas%E2%80%93Oklahoma_flood_and_tornado_outbreak

    Reply
  6. Steven Blaisdell

     /  May 29, 2015

    I had to drive through the worst of the deluge in Austin on Monday night. I’ve been here since 1993, seen quite a few seriously aggressive storms but this was surreal, almost apocalyptic. Of course, too many voices immediately pooh-poohed it as ‘nothing’ compared to the flood of record in 1981 (which was, of course, before the city installed extensive flood control measures to prevent it happening again; well, guess what….). Well, I was there, forced to drive through the thick of it and it was beyond belief – entire five lane streets turned to raging torrents, sheets of water cascading off soaked, sloping lawns, floating cars, cars being swept away by whitewater (yes, whitewater) rapids overrunning bridges that stand twenty feet high over normally tame arroyos. Saturday a tornado destroyed dozens of live oak trees hundreds of years old, and ripped apart roofs in the center of town. Again, not unprecedented, but all in the same three day span?
    Keep beating the moral and ethical drums, Robert. Everyone who is silent about the easily accessible and understandable implications of AGW – especially public figures and specialists who are trusted and should know better – is complicit in the death and destruction we are seeing, and will see in increasing proportion in the (near) future. To ignore, distort, deny, profess ignorance of, or dismiss the evidence is an immoral, inhuman, callous, and ultimately murderous act of the first order. We have passed the point where people of good conscience can reasonably claim indecisiveness or ignorance. I will not explicitly prove Godwin’s Law, but the parallels are evident, except we’re now working on a a massive, global, existential scale.
    We have met the enemy and he is us.

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  May 30, 2015

      Great comment Steven.

      Reply
    • sunkensheep

       /  May 31, 2015

      So, we had a ‘day after tomorrow’ style SSTAs, now we have the weather events to match. That people keep pushing the denial line is astounding!

      Reply
  7. Griffin

     /  May 29, 2015

    Robert, you are truly a man of the times. Your message is truth, and your delivery is clear and sharp. I have been dismayed at the incredible unwillingness to link the weather extremes we have seen to climate change. Perhaps some of those will read your posts and perhaps think twice about the next story.
    I do wish the media could just move past “possibly linked” and call it what it is. The weather is broken, right here, right now and we are the cause.

    Reply
    • Yes Griffin, we broke the planet. Good children don’t make messes they can’t clean up.

      Reply
      • sunkensheep

         /  May 31, 2015

        Actually, we broke the Northern Hemisphere. Down in the south, it still works as in days of yore, just with higher tepms and evaporation rates. I suspect this may soon change though as there appear to be unusual trends in global thermo-haline circulation.

        Reply
        • I don’t think Australia is working too well these days. Or Brazil.

    • To help Robert’s work more exposure, try sending a “Story Idea” to Pacifica’s Democracy Now. I have, in the past, without success so far.
      But I have tried to goad them into taking a break from their annual confab with Robert Redford at Sundance Film fest in mountainous Park City — to cover the Utah doctors and others in Salt Lake City then petitioning the gov to protect them from air pollution.
      No luck there but one of my first KBOO radio interviews in 2013 was with a UT doctor about air pollution causing autism in children.

      Reply
  8. Syd Bridges

     /  May 29, 2015

    Thank you for this post, Robert. Yet another predictable-and predicted-effect of global warming “The truth that dare not speak it’s name.” However, I can understand their point of view. The Clausius-Clapeyron equation tells us that we get a 7 percent increade in water vapour pressure for each degree Celsius of temperature rise. But Clausius was German, Clapeyron French, and Celsius Swedish. How dare these foriegners mess with Texas!

    With the totally corrupt or contemptibly pussilanimous media, I doubt that this will bring home the message to most voters in the affected states. As for the many deaths in the Indian heatwave, no chance whatsoever. However, I think the insurance industry might be another natter. I await with interest the bills in State Legislatures limiting insurers from “discriminating” against wealthy property owners in obvious at risk areas. And if Uncle Sam ends up footing the bill as a result, no doubt the budget can be balanced by depriving the poor of something else.

    What is alarming about these storms is that they are just the apperatif on the menu of the global warming banquet. Who knows what the main course will bring! To be followed, of course, by just desserts.

    Reply
  9. Svante Törnquist

     /  May 29, 2015

    I have noticed the same quietness regarding climate change in the media here in Sweden. Dispite the fact that the awareness of climate change is high here. The big news media here are scarily quiet on the issue. There has been some reporting on the California dought and on the floods in texas but absolutely NO mentioning of climate change! Isn’t that scary? Or how should we interpret that? I think they have a very big and important responsibility to report on climate change whenever something related to that happens. So why don’t they? I have written emails to ask but haven’t gotten any answer yet.

    / Svante

    Reply
  10. We were house hunting in Houston when Tropical Storm Allison hit. We ended up in 35-story condominium tower. I wanted no part of living on the ground in Houston. Afterwards they constructed huge drainage tubes under streets in the hospital district. They also moved expensive equipment out of the basements. There was some sort of pumping system installed on Brays Bayou, which flooded badly in this recent flood. So when people talk about records not being broken, they have to account for mitigation and alterations before that analysis has any validity.

    Reply
  11. dnem

     /  May 29, 2015

    While I generally find Andy Revkin to be a dangerously tepid voice on climate change, he has an interesting graphic on his DotEarth blog today (I don’t know how to drop the graphic in so here’s the link to the whole post): http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/28/a-chat-on-the-clash-of-meteorology-and-politics-behind-texass-flood-dangers/?ref=science The map shows what appear to be records of 13 “extreme rainfall events” of greater than 18″ in Texas since 1899, including several of over 30″. The data, if correct, open the climate change connection to the Memorial Day Weekend event to some scrutiny.

    Reply
  12. eugene

     /  May 29, 2015

    I’ve done a reasonable amount of moving around and over the years learned to talk to old timers. You know, people on the ground,. It’s not some “scientist” proving whatever he/she wanted to prove. In other words, no agenda, just experience. I do work at relating the “on the ground” information with what researchers are saying. I’ve learned people are amazingly susceptible to believing authority so anyone (sharing their agenda) who speaks in an authoritative manner is believed. So for me, the guy in Texas isn’t even believable until I’ve done some research and asked some questions like when, where, why, etc. That’s where it all falls down. We live in an age with incredible amounts of information available in a very short period of time and I know very few people who will take the time to check it out for themselves but they will quote the “information” endlessly.

    Decades ago, I came out of the military with severe PTSD that almost killed me. I was telling a guy about my experience and his response was “the military would never do that”. There’s not arguing with senseless denial. As a relative says re dementia “can’t be logical with illogical people”. First hand experience as my uncle just died of dementia.

    I am positive there were people on the Titanic, with water lapping around their ankles, yelling “this ship can’t sink”.

    Reply
    • Right, eugene: “It can’t happen here.” “It never happened before!” is what I heard most often.
      Ps hope the PTS(D) easing. My (D) is because it’s not really a dis-order — it’s really the end part of psychological trauma.
      Be well.

      Reply
  13. Rex

     /  May 29, 2015

    There is an executive order to agencies on climate change. Federal agencies are to integrate “sustainability” and planning for climate change into their actions, including storm water management. I observe that at agencies (DOI), senior and line management is stacked with climate deniers. Bring up planning for climate change in the agency’s planning and actions and you get jokes and derision. This at the GS-13 to GS-14 level and higher of supervision.

    Federal agencies have a lot to do with flood management, planning, and floodplain regulation, yet if they are mainly deniers expect no suitable response by those with authority and responsibility. They all know the Chief Executive’s orders are merely empty posturing–its business as usual (wink, wink, nod, nod).

    Reply
    • Apneaman

       /  May 30, 2015

      Rex, do you have a link? or know the name of the executive order ? This could mean a charge of criminal negligence leading to death. Might not stick, but it might be worth the effort.

      Reply
  14. Greg

     /  May 29, 2015

    Hell and High Water. So far we are looking at 35 trillion gallons and counting. That’s about 8 inches of rainwater spread over the entire state of Texas:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/weather/35-trillion-gallons-water-texas-record-rain-numbers-n366541

    Reply
    • doug

       /  May 29, 2015

      Ironic isn’t it? In the land of oil and gas production. But the irony will be lost on all but a few. I wonder how many republican voters were victims. Dumbasses.

      Reply
  15. The National Hurricane Center predicts a slow hurricane season this year. Still I wonder if we should be wary of p***ant tropical storms blowing up to Cat 5 monsters overnight, like Wilma in 2005, especially here in New Orleans, where it might be too late to evacuate when such a storm heads our way.

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  May 30, 2015

      Salient point Ed. Given what we have seen in regards to rapid intensification of storms in warm basins lately. Let’s hope this does not come to pass.

      Reply
      • Usually when there’s an El Niño, Griffin, there are very few hurricanes in the Atlantic. Didn’t help Miami in ’92, though.

        Reply
      • Griffin

         /  June 1, 2015

        Yes that is true, and the forecast does call for reduced activity in the Atlantic this year. I just worry that the atmospheric pattern may change for a brief period and the normal shear values present during El Nino may relax long enough for a “home grown” storm to take advantage of the high SST inshore (such as the gulf) and exhibit the rapid intensification that we have seen so much of in the Pacific recently.

        Reply
        • Indubitably. And that is a good thing to be concerned about.

  16. james cole

     /  May 29, 2015

    “Extraordinary hotter north, cooler south dipole anomaly pattern” Even a non-scientist like myself can see this extraordinary feature that has formed on the map above. The engine to generate extreme weather is certainly there. Only, in my experience, it is supposed to be the cold arctic air that comes down across Minnesota from Canada and clashed with warm moist Gulf Air over some Midwest locality that generates the extreme weather. Is this the signal of global warming that we would see the temperature dipole flipped upside down, with extra warm arctic air clashing with cold southern air and drawing in moist gulf air to generate the extreme weather? Funny how media misses the irony of these floods, the clear signal of global warming in them! Of course we know why they gloss over this, the powerful corporate media and advertisers want the same old “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil about global warming” so as not to upset a fossil fuel industry grown fat and powerful on hundreds of billions of dollars in profits. That kind of money buys silence and denial agents.

    Reply
    • It’s more like the hot ridge over NWT is causing as sigma pattern. The instability is both due to cooler than normal air over the Rockies and Arctic air injection retro grading down from CAA/Hudson Bay region. Add in an intensified subtropical jet and all that added moisture loading and you’ve got trouble.

      Reply
  17. Leif Knutsen

     /  May 29, 2015

    “Is this a sign of Global Warming…” Energy in = energy out. This day in age all we can say for sure is all weather now has a global warming component. Weather throws the punches, climate trains the fighter. Humanity is in a new “normal” with no experience else where to fall back on.

    Reply
    • Steven Blaisdell

       /  May 30, 2015

      “Weather throws the punches, climate trains the fighter.” Nice. Need more of these short, punchy (!) metaphors to go viral, outflank the forces of silence. If you don’t mind, I’ll be using this one.

      Reply
  18. – There’s some general info and context here (2007):

    Increase in Atmospheric Moisture Tied to Human Activities

    Observations and climate model results confirm that human-induced warming of the planet is having a pronounced effect on the atmosphere’s total moisture content. Those are the findings of a new study appearing in the Sept. 17 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    “When you heat the planet, you increase the ability of the atmosphere to hold moisture,” said Benjamin Santer, lead author from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Program for Climate Modeling and Intercomparison. “The atmosphere’s water vapor content has increased by about 0.41 kilograms per square meter (kg/m²) per decade since 1988…

    Using 22 different computer models of the climate system and measurements from the satellite-based Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I), atmospheric scientists from LLNL and eight other international research centers have shown that the recent increase in moisture content over the bulk of the world’s oceans is not due to solar forcing or gradual recovery from the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo. The primary driver of this ‘atmospheric moistening’ is the increase in carbon dioxide caused by the burning of fossil fuels
    https://www-pls.llnl.gov/?url=science_and_technology-earth_sciences-moisture

    ###
    Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I

    Reply
  19. Colorado Bob

     /  May 29, 2015

    Earth’s 5th Deadliest Heat Wave in Recorded History Kills 1,826 in India

    The death toll from India’s horrid May heat wave has risen to 1,826, making this year’s heat wave the second deadliest in India’s recorded history–and the fifth deadliest in world history. According to statistics from EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, India’s only deadlier heat wave was in 1998, when 2,541 died. With over 400 deaths recorded in just the past day and the heat expected to continue over India for another week, the 1998 death toll could well be exceeded in this year’s heat wave. However, death tolls from heat waves are very difficult to estimate, since excess heat is typically not listed as the primary cause of death in cases where the victim has a pre-existing condition such as heart or lung disease. For example, the U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) lists the total direct deaths from the U.S. heat wave of 1980 at 1,260, but estimates that the combined direct and indirect deaths (i.e., excess mortality) due to heat stress was 10,000. Below is the list of top ten deadliest heat waves in world history as compiled by EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, which uses direct deaths for their statistics, and not excess mortality.

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=3000

    Reply
  20. Atmospheric River Information Page

    Atmospheric Rivers (AR) are relatively narrow regions in the atmosphere that are responsible for most of the horizontal transport of water vapor outside of the tropics. While ARs come in many shapes and sizes, those that contain the largest amounts of water vapor, the strongest winds, and stall over watersheds vulnerable to flooding, can create extreme rainfall and floods.

    A strong AR transports an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to 7.5–15 times the average flow of liquid water at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
    On average ARs are 400-600 km wide.
    ARs move with the weather and are present somewhere on the earth at any given time.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/atmrivers/

    Reply
  21. Colorado Bob

     /  May 29, 2015

    Texas and Oklahoma Set All-Time Record Wet Month; Other May Rain Records Shattered in Arkansas, Nebraska

    May 2015 is now the wettest single month on record in Texas and Oklahoma.

    State climatologist Gary McManus from the Oklahoma Climatological Survey calculated the May rainfall total averaged over all Sooner State reporting stations through midday May 29 – 14.18 inches – was easily outpacing the previous record wet month, set in October 1941 (10.75 inches).

    Not to be outdone, Texas has picked up a statewide average of 7.54 inches so far in May, crushing the previous record wet month of June 2004 during which a statewide average of 6.66 inches of rain fell, according to the Office of the State Climatologist at Texas A&M University.

    http://www.wunderground.com/news/plains-rain-flood-threat-wettest-may-ranking

    Reply
    • Steven Blaisdell

       /  May 30, 2015

      Yup. Good to know the numbers. Noone here (TX) who’s seen the sheer volume of rain this month has any doubt. And it’s not over yet; there was a flash flood warning today for a very large and powerful storm system that’s just moved into LA and AK, plus a small but powerful cell currently moving SE across the panhandle. Here in Austin WU predicts a possible .5 inch more this weekend. Been here 21 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it; it’s almost doubled the levels of the lakes. Hard to predict, but this months deluge and flooding might – though I’m not betting on it – start waking a few folks up.

      Reply
  22. 052815 – The atmosphere at sunset with northern latitude wildfire smoke and airliner contrails, looking W N/W from PDX. Many airliners fly the polar route.

    Reply
    • 052915 – The atmosphere with airliner contrails in a pasty white mid morning sky, looking E from PDX. Daily, airliners fly the polar route over a warming Arctic.

      Reply
  23. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 29, 2015

    Toasty blob in Russia.

    Reply
    • It’s also striking to look at India. The entire subcontinent up to the foothills of the Himalayas is dark red. They’re seeing some real heat there.

      Reply
  24. Griffin

     /  May 30, 2015

    The Texas Tribune pulls no punches in this article. Good read.
    http://www.texastribune.org/2015/05/27/climate-change-factor-floods-largely-ignored/

    Reply
  25. Carol

     /  May 30, 2015

    The Atlantic is about to get colder (while the Pacific is warming from El Nino, and the Arctic is melting).

    “The Atlantic Ocean’s surface temperature swings between warm and cold phases every few decades. Like its higher-frequency Pacific relative El Nino, this so-called “Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation” can alter weather patterns throughout the world. The warmer spell we’ve seen since the late 1990s has generally meant warmer conditions in Ireland and Britain, more North Atlantic hurricanes, and worse droughts in the US Midwest.

    However a colder phase in the Atlantic could bring drought and consequent famine to the developing countries of Africa’s Sahel region. In the UK it would offer a brief respite from the rise of global temperatures, while less rainfall would mean more frequent summer barbeques. A cold Atlantic also means fewer hurricanes hitting the southern US.

    The good news is our latest research, published in the journal Nature, gives us a much better understanding of these Atlantic oscillations. We now know that accelerations in sea-level rise in cities like New York and Boston on the north-east coast of the US are linked to a cold spell in the Atlantic.

    The bad news, at least if you’re an African farmer or have a coastal property in New England? We’re about to go into a cold phase.”

    > http://theconversation.com/the-atlantic-is-entering-a-cool-phase-that-will-change-the-worlds-weather-42497

    Reply
    • There are serious problems with interpreting this article in such a manner to conclude that the Earth will cool as a result of AMO flip, Carol.

      First off, AMO is a region flux, that has less of an impact on overall global surface temperature than it does in the North Atlantic.

      Second is the fact that estimates for global surface warming at the rate of 0.5 C per Century, as implied, do not look at likely warming for the 21st Century. Sure, the 20th Century warmed at that rate. But even the warming rate of the last three decades at +.15 C per decade = 1.5 C per Century. But curve fitting doesn’t factor in the impact of human ghg overburen projected additions and various feedbacks. Even under the best case scenario with a transition to a net negative Carbon emitting civilization we can expect between 1 and 2.2 C warming by the end of this Century (including feedbacks). A rather rapid response and shut down to near zero carbon emissions gets us to 1.8 to 3.5 C. A mediocre response gets us to 2 to 4.5 C. And BAU gets us to 3 to 6 C or higher.

      The variability signal of AMO, even for the isolated region of the Atlantic, is therefore trumped even by current rates of warming (0.15 C globally per decade). So it is unlikely to be even a blip on the radar in that respect. That said, regional weather would certainly shift due to the variability. And, in addition, we have the added glacial outflows from Greenland and the further weakening of AMOC to consider in this equation.

      But the interpreting the article to mean broader cooling basically fails because it ignores the elephant in the room — the larger human heat addition due to greenhouse gas emission.

      Reply
  26. wili

     /  May 30, 2015

    Except for a few brave posters here and elsewhere, most people, given a choice between being unhappy and being dangerously deluded will pick the latter every time.

    Thanks for the island of sanity here, even if it is often a sad place.

    Reply
  27. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 30, 2015

    holy guacamole!

    Check out the fires breaking out in the NWT. I count 13 in just this one area.

    http://www.arctic.io/explorer/8/2015-05-29/8-N62.5854-W121.22009

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  May 30, 2015

      That is scary. Flat out scary. It is still only May!

      Reply
    • Griffin

       /  May 30, 2015

      There is still frickin ice on the lakes nearby!!!

      Reply
  28. Steve Bloom

     /  May 30, 2015

    Nope, Carol, the smart money remains on increasing heat. See here.

    Reply
    • Carol

       /  May 30, 2015

      Steve, thanks for the counter to that Nature article. I can see why the deniers liked it.

      Reply
      • Bill H

         /  May 30, 2015

        As far as I can tell the deniers who’ve been celebrating didn’t actually get round to reading the article at all, but merely the press release, which did seem to suggest a reduction in global temperature of -5 celsius over just a few years. If they’d gone to the trouble of reading the paper it made no such claim.

        Reply
  29. Colorado Bob

     /  May 30, 2015

    Why Bill Nye really pissed off the Ted Cruz right: It’s no longer possible to avoid talking about climate change

    Wednesday, the New York Times published an article about why Texas might want to heed climate scientists’ warnings, even if they can’t say just how much climate change contributed to the recent flooding. “Climate change is not causing these events — they’ve always happened naturally,” Katherine Hayhoe, a prominent climate researcher, said. “But climate change is exacerbating these events.”

    In a Facebook comment, Michael Wehner, a computational climate scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs who Hayhoe called “THE MAN when it comes to understanding the relationship between natural variability, human influence, and climate extremes,” confirmed that the recent floods were significantly more severe than they would have been in a pre-industrial climate, and that human-driven warming also doubled the likelihood of Texas’ 2011 drought. And he expressed his concern that the general conversation still hasn’t seemed to grasp these realities, let alone the severity of the situation.

    “I fear that as a community, we have very severely understated the present dangers,” Wehner wrote. “To say nothing of the future.”

    Link

    Reply
  30. rustj2015

     /  May 30, 2015
    Reply
    • wili

       /  May 30, 2015

      Similar story out of ap: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/20b4c60765004e77a2d8e48eebb9862f/has-been-month-extreme-weather-around-world

      “Even for a world getting used to wild weather, May seems stuck on strange.

      Torrential downpours in Texas that have whiplashed the region from drought to flooding. A heat wave that has killed more than 1,800 people in India. Record 91-degree readings in Alaska, of all places. A pair of top-of-the-scale typhoons in the Northwest Pacific. And a drought taking hold in the East.

      As bad as the Texas flooding has been, the heat wave in India has been far worse — in fact, the world’s fifth-deadliest since 1900, with reports of the 100-degree-plus heat even buckling roads. And it’s a consequence of the stuck jet stream, according to Francis and Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters.

      A stuck jet stream, with a bit of a split, explains the extremes in Texas, India, Alaska and the U.S. East, but not the typhoons, Francis says.

      Other possible factors contributing to May’s wild weather: the periodic warming of the central Pacific known as El Nino, climate change and natural variability, scientists say.”

      Reply
  31. rustj2015

     /  May 30, 2015

    And another part of the surfacing methane problem:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150528142905.htm

    Reply
  32. Colorado Bob

     /  May 30, 2015

    UC Berkeley researchers find global warming negatively affects cold-blooded organisms

    In a study published May 20, a team of UC Berkeley researchers found that ectotherms — organisms that draw bodily heat from their environment — have difficulty adjusting to temperatures of either extreme cold or heat and therefore face more problems from global warming.

    The study, a review of 112 published studies on thermal tolerance and plasticity in different animal species, examines ectotherms ranging from fish and insects to crustaceans and lizards. According to the researchers, a majority of these studies exposed animals to either low or high temperatures for a week or more. The animals’ mobility was then measured, and most were rendered immobile at extremely high or low temperatures, meaning that ectotherms have generally very low levels of thermal plasticity

    Link

    Reply
  33. Colorado Bob

     /  May 31, 2015

    Deaths of over 120,000 rare antelopes in Kazakhstan stirs conservation fear

    Kiev, Central Asia – Recorded mysterious deaths of more than one-third of the endangered Saiga antelope population in the last few days, Kazakhstan authorities said. The ministry suspects that the animals, recognizable for their distinctive humped snouts have been struck by an epidemic of Pasteurellosis a bacterial infection – discovered by Royal Veterinary College professor, Richard Kock. International veterinarian experts have already flown to Kazakhstan to study the root cause of the catastrophe occurred.

    Link

    Reply
  34. Colorado Bob

     /  May 31, 2015

    A word about those 120,000 rare antelopes in Kazakhstan ;

    For several years I have thought that the tiniest living things will get the jump on the rest of us. (And I’m thinking everything smaller than a pine beetle.)

    But first, they have to get a jump over their neighborhood. Recently the schooner Tara, after a 4 years at sea , has released 5 studies from every ocean on creatures down to viruses.

    Climate change takes toll on ocean’s smallest creatures

    So why do I think this ?
    The crash of the following :
    Frogs and their kin.
    Bats
    Honey Bees
    Sea Stars
    Monarch Butterflies
    Aspen Trees
    Ash Trees
    Juniper Trees
    Pinion Trees
    Joshua Trees

    I could go on all night , but fungus is player in this list And fungus is one of those tiny creatures I’m thinking of.
    Anyone who thinks that viruses, fungi, and bacteria, aren’t on the move in the warmer world we have made is a fool.Remember

    But what really scares me is viruses, fungi, and bacteria are melting out to add to the modern stock. These are 120,000 genes that are getting back in the game of life.

    As the Arctic melts these genes , are coming back into the game.

    No one was done a paper this , But it’s a brand new world
    Let’s hope the first super fungus visits Ted Cruz first.

    Reply
  35. Colorado Bob

     /  May 31, 2015

    Hell is coming to breakfast , everyone buckle their chin strap.

    Reply
  36. rayduray

     /  May 31, 2015

    Climate scientist Paul Beckwith reports on recent spikes in Arctic methane:

    Reply
  37. Rayduray – You beat me to it. Excellent synopsis of the current situation from Paul Beckwith.

    Reply
    • rustj2015

       /  May 31, 2015

      Umm, excellent synopsis of the careening situation? Hockey sticks risible?

      Reply
  38. Andy in YKD

     /  May 31, 2015

    No rain in the month of May for SE AK. A little forecast for later this week.

    Reply
    • Leif Knutsen

       /  May 31, 2015

      As a PNW resident and frequent traveler in AK coastal waters, that is one amazing statistic. Scary to read but thank you none the less, Andy.

      Reply
      • You wouldn’t know of these ominous conditions in the MSM. These places, and people, get little, to no, mention — as if they have been expunged from all maps. It’s disgusting beyond the beyond. The top of the world is turning to hot dry flammable desert before our eyes.

        Reply
      • Not just MSM, though–I make a point of posting items from all over the world to Twitter. Those concerning smaller countries, and even some large ones like Brazil, consistently attract less attention and fewer retweets. It’s as if those countries have also been expunged from our mental maps.

        Reply
        • We should all see ourselves as citizens of this world and as neighbors to one another. It will take us all working together to deal with this problem. And we should be fighting hard to help those in the way of harm now. They are the first line of our collective defense.

  39. Andy in San Diego

     /  May 31, 2015

    NWT Fire map. Be prepared to look at a map slathered in fires.

    http://www.nwtfire.com/nwt-fire-map

    Reply
  40. ‘More than two dozen news publishers from around the world launched an initiative on May 21 called the Climate Publishers Network, spearheaded by the popular U.K. newspaper The Guardian.

    As members of the network, publishers agree to freely share climate change-related news content to raise public awareness of environmental issues in the lead-up to the UN climate change summit in Paris in December.

    Montreal’s La Presse is a founding member, and the Toronto Star is in the process of signing up, joining a group that includes India Today, The Seattle Times, China Daily and The Sidney Morning Herald in Australia.
    http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/05/31/media-failing-on-climate-change-coverage.html

    Reply
  41. islandraider

     /  May 31, 2015

    I live north of Seattle. Rainfall totals for this area so far this year:
    Feb: 0.75″
    March: 0.06″
    April: 0
    May: 0

    Reply
    • OK, I. You really are dry.
      PDX, OR has:
      May: 0.59 Normal = 2.47

      Reply
      • islandraider

         /  May 31, 2015

        Anomalously anomalous.
        Average rainfall for each of those months:
        Feb: 2.05″
        March: 1.97″
        April: 1.61″
        May: 1.46″

        Reply
      • – PDX
        NOAA NWS has T-storms & winds in the mix. (Jet stream still MIA, tho.) Lightning strikes may in the mix. I see tall & wide T-heads to the E & SE.

        “Isolated Thunderstorms will develop over the cascades Sunday afternoon and continue through Monday afternoon. Thunderstorms over the cascades may be strong at times producing large hail and strong gusty winds. There is a slight chance that thunderstorms will spread west to the Oregon Coast late Sunday night and Monday morning.” – NWS

        Reply
      • – PDX
        Temps in Willamette Valley, OR between Cascades and Coast Range: S to N in low 80’s F, humidity in high 20 %.

        Reply
    • – OR near S end of Willamette Valley:

      ‘Southeast Eugene neighbors prepare for wildfires’
      A fire truck sat in the Haggen grocery store parking lot on Hilyard Street in southeast Eugene on Saturday afternoon, although not for the reasons one would expect.
      … Because of its elevation, many narrow streets, numbers of trees and shrubs, and the recent drought in Lane County, southeast Eugene is especially at risk of wildfires this summer.

      “This is the first time we’ve had an organized (wildfire awareness) effort in southeast Eugene,” Southeast Neighbors chairwoman Heather Sielicki said. “We’re just taking it more seriously as conditions point more and more in that direction. We’d rather be prepared.

      -The Register-Guard

      May 31, 2015

      Reply
  42. – FF

    Louisiana Environmental Group Warns Santa Barbara Oil Spill Cleanup Workers to Protect Their Health

    An open letter from the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) and the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper advises those affected by the Santa Barbara Plains All American Pipeline spill not to participate in the clean-up effort.

    “We do not want to see your citizens’, workers’, and volunteers’ health harmed in the way we have seen it damaged along our Gulf Coast after the 2010 BP oil disaster,” the letter says.

    But the warning may be too late to help some like Osiris Castañeda, a father, ocean lover and filmmaking professor who cleaned up a stretch of Santa Barbara County beach with other volunteers on May 20, the day after a Plains Pipeline spilled an estimated 101,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean.

    http://www.desmogblog.com/2015/05/31/louisiana-environmental-group-warns-santa-barbara-oil-spill-cleanup-workers-protect-their-health

    Reply
  43. Matt

     /  June 1, 2015

    On the topic of the Indian heatwave (over 2000 dead now), does anyone have an update as to wether the Monsoon is on track to provide relief? i know it was delayed last year due to the almost emerging El Nino (sure Robert had a post or 2 here). Is this powerful El Nino to block its progress this year?

    Reply
  44. New paper by Prof. Francis

    Rapid Arctic ice loss linked to extreme weather changes in Europe and US

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/01/rapid-arctic-ice-loss-linked-to-extreme-weather-changes-in-europe-and-us

    Reply
    • Thanks, tgi.

      The very short time frame ramp up is significant. The 10 year mark mirrors the breakdown of coast weather what I saw in So. Cal. The paper is so “right on” it hurts.

      “…The emergence of Arctic amplification—the enhanced sensitivity of high-latitude temperature to global warming—in only the last 10–20 years…”

      As emissions of greenhouse gases continue unabated, therefore, the continued amplification of Arctic warming should favour an increased occurrence of extreme events caused by prolonged weather conditions.”

      Here’s the JF & Royal Society publication link: http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/373/2045/20140170

      Reply
  45. Colorado Bob

     /  June 1, 2015

    Portable, solar-powered ecocapsules mean you can live rent- and electric-bill free, globally

    Link

    Reply
  46. Colorado Bob

     /  June 1, 2015

    Spike in water toxins blamed for hundreds of turtle deaths

    Christopher Gobler, a professor at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences who has studied algal blooms off Long Island for more than 20 years, said saxitoxin is normally detected in the region’s waters, but he has never seen saxitonin this high and never seen it cause such a wildlife die-off.

    Read more at: Link

    Reply
    • “saxitoxin, a biotoxin produced in algae blooms that has been found in the water at 10 times the normal level.”

      -These algae blooms are made possible by an over abundance of human caused nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients.

      Reply
      • — “you need to address the cause.”

        “This is a serious threat to public health,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment. “It’s not a joke anymore. When you have a saxitoxin that can kill humans, you need to address the cause.”

        Reply
  47. Mark from New England

     /  June 1, 2015

    Can anyone chime in on this study below?

    Ocean impact on decadal Atlantic climate variability revealed by sea-level observations
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v521/n7553/full/nature14491.html

    Towards the end of the summary it states that: “The Atlantic overturning circulation is declining and the AMO is moving to a negative phase. This may offer a brief respite from the persistent rise of global temperatures, but in the coupled system we describe, there are compensating effects. In this case, the negative AMO is associated with a continued acceleration of sea-level rise along the northeast coast of the United States.”

    … a brief respite from the persistent rise of global temperatures…? Really?

    Reply
  48. – I think this should apply to any land, or water mass, with a retarded warm up/cool down cycle. Santa Barbara’s fog reach changed dramatically. My location stopped getting its traditional pm/am cool down fog in about 2010-2011. My neighborhood stayed warm and dry 24 hrs. The smell of moist ocean air stayed away as well. It was freaky.
    – The recent JF paper also talks about cloud/atmosphere weather/heat interactions.

    ‘More urban heat; less summer fog, on California coast’

    The summer fog that shrouds coastal southern California – what locals call the June Gloom – is being driven up into the sky by urban sprawl, according to scientists who have studied 67 years of cloud heights and urban growth in the region…

    …less fog is bad news for native plants in the coastal hills and mountains, which depend on the cool fog as their only source of water during the rainless summer months. So less fog means warmer, drier, less healthy hillsides…”

    – [Coastal habitat too. Coastal Monarch overwintering sites where the moist fog plays an important part in the sublime micro climates typical of these coastal habitats.I studied and monitored about a dozen of these — by bike, bus, or hike, trespass, or bush whack.]

    http://blogs.agu.org/geospace/2015/03/05/urban-heat-less-summer-fog-california-coast/

    Reply
  49. Leif Knutsen

     /  June 1, 2015

    The Redwoods also rely on summer fog for moisture but the development of the costal lands has burned off the fog before it reaches the giants depriving them of vital fluids as well.

    Reply
    • TomCobbler

       /  June 1, 2015

      The health of tall trees are at serious risk in the coming decades. There was a recent study on this. Very recently, as in like today…

      http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2658.html

      This linked study suggests a more severe transition to savannah and dry season lengthening this century in response to AGW.

      An earlier study (1 or 2 weeks ago) suggests that taller, older trees are more vulnerable to increasing drought conditions compared to younger shorter trees that sequester less carbon dioxide. The reason for this, correct me if I’m wrong, has to do with tree species differences in terms of xylem structure (the dead plant cells called trachieds and vessel elements). These differences leave taller and older trees (which happen to be of certain species) more vulnerable.

      Reply
      • Tom, remember too that older, and taller, trees have spent a much more of their life exposed to a polluted atmosphere loaded with toxic, and phytotoxic particulate and gasses.

        Even as the young and old grow the taller trees get more fallout, and horizontal winds are usually quite a bit stronger aloft which can embed phytotoxic particulate in the foliage.

        Reply
  50. TomCobbler

     /  June 1, 2015

    Here is the study from 2 weeks ago, I’m sure someone already mentioned it earlier.

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2641.html

    So much risk in the uncertainty of how forests and the hydrological cycle respond to AGW. Lots of uncertainty in the carbon cycle, feedbacks and species succession, competition and extinction patterns. Throw in invasive pests for another wild card of ecological change.

    Reply
  1. Human Hothouse Death Toll Climbs to 2300 in India, Monsoon Suppressed, Delayed | robertscribbler

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