Monster El Nino Hurls Record Barrage of Hurricanes at Hot Blob, Sets Sights on Drought-Ravaged California

The Hot Blob in the Northeastern Pacific held its own for quite some time. But it now faces the assault of a barrage of tropical cyclones spat from the maw of a monster El Nino that is now tracking its way toward the strongest such event on record. If this keeps up, the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge warding storms off the US West Coast will be besieged by increasingly powerful cyclonic systems. The Ekman pumping from such storms will cool the ocean surface at its periphery and expanding toward its heart, eventually crushing the ocean impetus for ridge formation. The continuation of such a pattern could then kick Bjerknes feedback into higher gear — opening wide the door for powerful storms striking the US West Coast this Fall and Winter.

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A Record-Shattering Barrage of Pacific Cyclones

Late during the evening of August 29th of 2015 something odd happened. For the first time in the history of modern meteorological record keeping, three category four typhoons simultaneously churned their way northward through the Pacific Ocean. These massive and powerful storms, just one category shy of the strongest typhoons we have a measure for, were hurled out of a region of extremely hot sea surface temperatures near the Equator. A zone, that for late August was also hitting record hot levels amidst a building Monster El Nino. And never before in modern memory had so many storms of such high intensity filled Pacific Ocean waters.

image

(Signs that powerful Fall and Winter storms are coming for the US West Coast? From north to south, strong cyclones are starting to put the squeeze on the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge. The Central and Eastern Pacific between 10 and 30 North, in particular, shows an eye-widening number of tropical cyclones. As of Tuesday, September 1, a whopping four tropical systems were churning northward out of an extremely hot El Nino zone. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

By today, the furthest northward cyclones had vented their fury and dropped in intensity. Meanwhile, a fourth storm — tropical depression 14-E — was in the process of exploding over the very hot waters of the Eastern Pacific. It’s an unprecedented number of storms flowing out of what may become the strongest El Nino on record as part of a powerful ocean-atmospheric feedback.

Strong Bjerknes Feedback to Crush RRR?

Now, this strong storm pulse is starting to put the squeeze on the famed Ridiculously Resilient Ridge (RRR). It’s a persistent ridge that for the better part of three years has turned storms away from the US West Coast — deepening already prevalent drought conditions over California and threatening water security across the US West.

But now the RRR is surrounded by storms. A strong frontal trough runs from 30 North across the Central Pacific and on up into the Bering Sea. Another significant late summer low churns off the Pacific Northwest — running south and east toward Seattle and British Columbia. And four tropical cyclones push northward into the ridge’s southern boundary. It’s a full court atmospheric press. One that, through the mechanism of Ekman pumping, will push for the generation of upwelling and related cooling of the Northeastern Pacific waters beneath the RRR.

Bjerknes Feedback

(Sea surface temperature and atmospheric conditions are beginning to fall more in line with an El Nino related pattern called Bjerknes Feedback. Image source: NOAA.)

If this happens, a good portion of the RRR’s atmospheric inertia will fail — opening wide the door for a powerful west to east storm track development fed by heat rising off a Monster El Nino sprawling over the Equatorial zones. It’s a pattern that’s starting to look like a rather significant Bjerknes-type feedback to a record or near record El Nino. One that may well continue to develop and grow ever-stormier as Fall progresses.

2015 El Nino Still Heating Up, Expected to Heat Up More

Feeding the powerful pulse of storms is a still-heating Equatorial Pacific. As of Monday, NOAA’s Weekly El Nino Report found that the critical Nino 3.4 zone had warmed 2.2 degrees Celsius above average. This warming follows an inexorable three month rise that began in June and has mostly continued unabated. Furthermore, seasonal trends together with the already powerful observed atmospheric feedbacks would tend to continue to push surface warming through October and November. So it’s likely that an El Nino that has already ventured well into monster event range will warm further over the coming 4-10 weeks — setting the stage for a possible excession of 1997’s record setting intensity.

image

(The 2015 El Nino is starting to look like one of the very intense events some climate models predicted as an upshot of human-forced global warming. It’s only early September and Nino 3.4 is already 2.2 C hotter than average. This Equatorial Pacific region is still heating up as storm-forced up-welling begins to develop cool regions in the RRR supporting zones of the Northeastern Pacific Hot Blob. It will take a boatload of strong storms to crush the RRR, but the still strengthening monster El Nino to the south keeps firing them northward. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Model runs still point toward this possibility with CPC/IRI convergent and dynamic 3 month average predictions in the range of 2.3 to 2.5 C above average (which would beat out 1997’s 2.2 C departure). Meanwhile, uncorrected CFSv2 model runs continue to put the October, November, December 3 month average prediction in the range of 2.75 C above baseline. A level that would basically blow the 1997 El Nino out of the water. To this point it’s worth re-iterating that weekly sea surface temperature departures for the Equatorial Pacific are now entering record setting ranges. Many analysts, like Weather Underground’s Steve Gregory, expecting these waters to continue to warm over the coming weeks.

Conditions in Context: Look Out For Rough Weather Coming to US West Coast

Though it’s too early to lock in the death of the RRR, conditions are lining up that will continue to put the squeeze on this persistent weather pattern. As a result, chances for some very intense storms beginning to slam into the US West Coast starting during October, November and December are on the rise. For those looking to a possible end to the droughts, wildfires and water shortages in the Western US, this potential change in conditions may be seen as a relief.

However, such an extreme switch brings with it the distinct possibility that storms associated with a potential strongest El Nino on record will be very disruptive. The droughts and numerous wildfires throughout the West have established soil conditions that will only enhance flood related impacts. Powerful rains associated with El Nino will likely increase erosion and further damage soils in regions already impacted by the severe droughts, mass tree deaths, and wildfires related to human forced climate change and fossil fuel burning.

California missing two years of rain

(As of August 13, 2015, some parts of California were facing a rainfall deficit of 2 years or more. In order to break the drought, 2015’s monster El Nino would have to set off severe flood conditions during Fall and Winter. With the RRR under threat, is California staring down the barrel of a switch to an equally ridiculous barrage of storms? Image source: National Weather Service, Phoenix.)

To this final point, parts of California are now entering a 2 year rainfall deficit. A deficit that, in some places, equals 30-40 inches or more. A monster El Nino crushing the RRR and massively amplifying the Pacific Ocean storm track and pumping immense volumes of moisture into the mid-latitudes raises the risk that this much water or more could be dumped upon parts of California and the US West Coast in little more than a season. A switch from persistent, crushing drought to flash flood that could be extraordinarily disruptive.

Links:

Earth Observatory: Trio of Hurricanes in the Central and Eastern Pacific

Earth Nullschool

National Hurricane Center

The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge

NOAA: Bjerknes Feedback

NOAA’s Weekly El Nino Report

CFSv2 Model SST Predicted Departures in Nino 3.4

Steve Gregory: El Nino Stronger!

Climate Change Could Double the Likelihood of Super El Ninos

National Weather Service, Phoenix

Hat Tip to Ray Duray

(Please support public, non-special interest based science like the fantastic El Nino reports provided by NOAA and without which this analysis would not be possible.)

Leave a comment

127 Comments

  1. So it is Godzilla vs the Blob – – and Godzilla is winning…

    Reply
    • Well said! I think you’ve set the title for the next Godzilla movie — Godzilla vs The Blob!

      In any case, this appears to be exactly what we’re seeing. The frequency and intensity of storms coming off this El Nino is extraordinary. It’s like all the ocean and atmospheric variables are kicking off at much higher than usual extremes. All the extremes are more extreme…

      Reply
      • I preferred the moniker of “Jurassic El Niño,” basically because it suggests that this and future super El Niños may be product of our turning back the atmospheric clock to high CO2 conditions, but in this context Godzilla is kind of catchy.

        Reply
  2. The amount of heat and energy in the Pacific is mind blowing. Like you point out, Robert, if the drought is busted with epic storms the disruption produced could be quite severe. One needs only to recall the 97/98 El Niño to get a taste of what could happen. Intense deluges falling on drought stricken and fire ravaged areas only makes the event more dramatic.

    Reply
    • I bet Bob and Andy would have some insightful things to say about it. But, yeah, the atmospheric energy loading is just extraordinary. I’m not really looking forward to this Fall/Winter’s storm tracks — Atlantic or Pacific.

      Reply
    • Andy in SD

       /  September 1, 2015

      One would acquire tremendous wealth selling blue tarps to the residents at the tops of Laguna Nigels hill, and shovels to those below.

      Reply
      • Jay M

         /  September 2, 2015

        Sort of a gold rush in reverse. It is said that those that sold the shovels to the miners were the ones that got rich.

        Reply
      • James Burton

         /  September 2, 2015

        Andy, LA is primed for major devastation to precarious homes put into sandy hillsides all over the surrounding hills. One can easily see them perched up there hanging on to sheer sides. I know they are required to anchor them to some structure underlying, but if all the hillside goes, you just aren’t going to save the homes. Depending on how heavy and how fast the rain storms come down. According to the prognosis from the above post, this could bring epic rainfalls. The LA lifestyle has always seemed a bit unreal to me! Certainly this El Nino will put a lot of multi million dollar homes at threat.

        Reply
  3. Wharf Rat

     /  September 1, 2015

    Reply
    • Greg

       /  September 2, 2015

      A great piece to play on the deck of the SS anthropocene as it slowly sinks.

      Reply
  4. Just a personal anecdote from New England…schools built before our climate started warming are not equipped with AC, and temps inside the classrooms can exceed 90 degrees, forcing some school districts to resort to early dismissals.

    http://www.wfsb.com/story/29936242/students-hit-the-books-as-temperatures-rise

    I’m in my mid 30s and even when I was a kid in school we never had heat persistent enough during the school year to cause us to be sent home. I remember a couple warm days at the start/end of the school year, but it wasn’t intolerable heat. This entire week is forecast to be quite hot and humid. Yet another sign of change.

    Reply
  5. Dave Person

     /  September 1, 2015

    Hi,
    I guess my biggest concern is what if it doesn’t blow through the RRR?

    dave

    Reply
    • Then California needs to look to the summer Monsoon for moisture. Not a decent replacement, really.

      In any case, we should be concerned about both. Neither extreme drought nor extreme rains are helpful.

      Reply
      • Dave and Robert, my comment below has a link that may help answer this question re: the RRR…and the blob.

        Reply
        • There’s a bit more interplay in factors than that particular bit accounts for. First, heat in the NE PAC has a tendency to bottle up more heat in the equatorial regions through the mechanism of the trades. The result is that El Nino has a higher bar to push against for break-out. And the impact, in turn, is a tendency for a stronger El Nino needed to overcome that atmosphere-ocean inertia. The teleconnection between the Arctic and the hot pool adds to overall synergy. In essence, there’s another partner in the atmosphere-ocean dance for this El Nino and, possibly, for future strong El Ninos to come.

          The question of what happens to El Nino variability and the West Coast climate as warming continues is therefore a valid one. And the tendency of climate zones to shift further north under warming together with the new ridge tendencies feeding on polar amplification is certainly a part of the puzzle.

      • Thanks, Robert. I’ve had trouble bringing together, rather, understanding all these factors that created what we’re living in today.

        Reply
      • wili

         /  September 2, 2015

        The whole biosphere is amazingly complex, and long before we’ve really begun to get a full understanding of it, we’re busting the whole thing to smithereens.

        Even if one had a purely mechanistic view of the world, any mechanic knows that you need to keep all the pieces when you take something apart, and to keep track of how they are put together. We’re losing pieces right and left, and we never really knew how the whole thing worked in the first place.

        Reply
      • Dave Person

         /  September 2, 2015

        Hi Maria,
        Thanks for the link about the RRR.

        dave

        Reply
    • Mblanc

       /  September 2, 2015

      Crikey, meme-tastic!

      Reply
      • Yeah, there’s been some amazing work in climate change communications lately. I attribute much of it to an increase in clarity and a general acceptance that climate change deniers aren’t real skeptics — just active misinformers supporting a special-interest based agenda.

        Reply
      • One of the things I enjoy is when misinforming hacks like Fabius Maximus, Bob Tisdale, and the Orwellianly named PlanetaryVision complain about me not allowing them to post their bad and misleading information in comments here.

        I view the comments section as a platform for important added contributions. High quality posts and information sharing are important to me and I’ll elevate a high quality contributor. But bad information, misquoted links, endlessly repeating failed logic, and people who intentionally misrepresent the science are not at all welcome. It’s all about raising the quality of the discourse… And quality contributors are very much appreciated. Corporate hacks, quacks, and cranks, on the other hand, are not.

        Reply
  6. The ocean decided partying can begin before Friday nite;-)

    This is also an excellent piece that got into details of what caused the blob and the RRR. Daniel Swain who runs the weather west blog, and coined RRR, is heavily quoted as is Dr. Bond, the author of the “blob.”

    The ocean, says University of Washington Research Meteorologist Nicholas Bond, is prepartying. We’ve seen widespread above-average temperatures in the North Pacific before (although never like anything this high), but only following El Niños, like in 1958 and 1998. Those cases, Bond says, were “more of a hangover from El Niño.” Now, he says, with a historically strong El Niño just beginning, “we’re going into the party with a snootful.”

    And:

    This is the important point: the NPM[North Pacific Mode], which likely caused the ridge, which certainly caused our drastic two-year precipitation deficit — it’s gone. El Niño has disrupted it. There’s therefore no reason to believe the ridge will re-form, no reason to think the storm track will be deflected, and no reason to think The Blob will persist. “The climate models used for seasonal weather prediction are pretty emphatic about this,” Bond says. “We don’t expect a big ridge in the Northeastern Pacific this winter.”

    https://baynature.org/articles/today-in-el-nino-advice-dont-worry-about-the-blob/

    Reply
    • If true, then California is getting hammered…

      Reply
    • And, yes, during late August the models started to swing toward ‘blob death mode.’ Models are models. But the consensus has been shifting toward the Blob getting crushed.

      Reply
    • Thing is, blob getting crushed means some pretty amazing storms given current conditions…

      Reply
      • Thing is, blob getting crushed means some pretty amazing storms given current conditions…

        Frankly(my friends tease me for over-using this word), if I could book a ticket to the moon, I’d do it STAT. Whether we get heavy storms or drought not looking forward to this winter here in CA.

        Reply
        • Let’s hope it’s not as bad as it looks right now. But it’s worth noting that climate change is driving weather to increasing extremes. This year especially. India, for example, saw heatwave mass casualties and then rainfall that displaced more than 2 million people. Globally, we expect weather whiplash now. And the crazy drought in California begs a whiplash. Don’t like it… Wish I could get you that moon ticket.

      • Ya, the extremes—-oy.

        More realistically re: moon, if NZ didn’t have such a stringent policy re: rabies and dogs, I’d book a ticket there for the winter an hour ago. Been wanting to visit for years and I have a friend there who’s been trying to get me to visit for forever. CA is just not prepared for deluges—at least where I am. I live close to the bay just outside SF—a normal downpour will flood streets and a major highway that is the only way in and out(the 101). But…..it’ll be an adventure!

        Reply
      • My last comment. Don’t want to clutter. I forgot to thank you, Robert, for that beautiful null school images of the 4 cyclones. I may ask them if I can have a high-res copy so I can blow it up…

        Reply
      • Thanks, Robert. As my beloved Boston-ers would say, “You’re not only wicked smaht, but you’re also a sweet-haht.

        Reply
      • Wharf Rat

         /  September 2, 2015

        I’m with Maria…”Whether we get heavy storms or drought not looking forward to this winter here in CA.” This is Mendocino Co. I think I got close to 120″ in ’97-98. I get about as much as Branscomb. Rain year ends 7/1. I think it rained thru 6/10 or so.

        May 29, 1998

        Storm sets record for century By DAN McKEE The Daily Journal
        I’t’s official! As of 8 a.m. today, more rain has fallen on the city this year than any year since the Fire Department started keeping records. And that’s a long time – 102 … years to be exact. The Fire Department’s Mark Clark told the Daily Journal the city’s official rainfall stood at 72.01 inches this morning. The previous record was 70.19 for the 1982-83 season, also an El Nino year. More than 1.25 inches of rain pelted the valley overnight, according to officials at Ukiah Regional Airport, bringing the season total there to 62.82 inches. The difference between rainfall figures, Clark explained, is just a matter “of where we’re sitting versus where they’re sitting.” Clark said the Fire Department supplies the official rainfall figures for the National Weather Service because the department is “in a central Ukiah location and we’ve only moved two blocks in the last 102 years.” According to Clark, 1.2 inches of rain had fallen on central Ukiah since 6 p.m. Thursday. Redwood Valley also recorded ,1.2 inches of rain, raising the season total there to 73.27 inches. Philo was pelted by 1.5 inches of rain, while 1.44 inches fell on Fort Bragg. Coyote Dam reported a season total of 63.86 inches of rain. Harwood Products in Branscomb reported an incredible 107.47 inches of rain for the year, and that was before last night’s rainfall. The wet weather is expected to continue through today, the National Weather Service said.

        http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/1084452/

        Reply
      • Wharf Rat

         /  September 2, 2015

        PS. Last year, Ukiah got 26.56 inches. I think I got about 45.

        Reply
      • Those are godzilla numbers, Wharf. I imagine, to make matters/people even more crazed, the lack of sun must have also been a factor. Surely Ebay has a ticket to the moon. They just must.

        This made me chuckle:

        Clark said the Fire Department supplies the official rainfall figures for the National Weather Service because the department is “in a central Ukiah location and we’ve only moved two blocks in the last 102 years.”

        Reply
    • Leland Palmer

       /  September 2, 2015

      Hi Maria-

      I hope that Godzilla crushes the Blob, but I doubt it, at least in the long run.

      I’m not getting it, I guess. If the RRR caused the Blob, and the RRR is tied to the loss of Arctic sea ice, then the RRR will be back and Blob will be back, I think.

      The loss of Arctic sea ice is not going away and will only get worse. The oceans will only get hotter, as the heat content of the oceans increases, too. So, my money is on the RRR coming back, even if it does get cleared out by a series of typhoons. So, the Blob will be back in a year, or a couple of years.

      The Blob resurgent eats Godzilla, in the long run, I think. The models don’t show this because they are not long term enough

      Burrrrppp…

      Oh, maybe Blobs don’t burp, having no stomach and no esophagus. But the Blob would burp if it could.🙂

      On the other hand, weather and climate are amazingly complex, and can do anything they want. We could and likely will see some new phenomenon nobody expected in a couple of years. Mothra flutters down and eats everything, maybe.

      Reply
      • PlazaRed

         /  September 2, 2015

        Climate could also be looked at as if it were a sleeping guard dog!
        It sleeps, gets up and wanders about a bit and goes back to sleep.
        if you throw something at it the reaction is to fight back and in the long run, if you get too close to it you will get bitten.

        I tend to agree with you about the blob returning next year, in fact I am not too sure it will even completely go away.
        The cyclones are nibbling away at its underside but there is a lot of it and lot of sunshine warming it up as well.
        The accumulated cyclone energy for this year in the northern hemisphere is already over 500, the highest its ever been for the end of August, the record for it is about 880 for the year.
        This shows how much energy is being transported. This year more heat energy has been transported so far than any other recorded year as of this date and its still only the beginning of September!
        The sun is about to get directly over the equator again and then we will see what happens to the El Nino. I think it will go up in temp a lot more yet but the blob will be feeding on some of that energy as well.
        This el Nino is probably going to be a record but it will also probably set other presidents as the first El Nino with CO2 levels above 400 PPM.

        Reply
      • Leland Palmer

         /  September 2, 2015

        Hi PlazaRed
        I’ve been looking at the models, up to 10 days out,
        and the RRR looks ridiculously resilient, as usual. The RRR and its blobish minion laugh at typhoons, apparently. The RRR loves us here in California. I hope the typhoons machine gun it to death, but no joy, so far. If a series of typhoons can’t kill the RRR in a major El Niño year, what could kill it?

        Reply
        • If the RRR goes down, it will be a process that takes months to complete. So don’t expect a swift collapse. But there’s a switch in atmospheric/ocean trends that’s aiming a lot of energy in that direction.

      • Leland…as long as Mothra keeps Belvera home, we should be ok.

        In case you don’t follow his blog, Daniel Swain has a fresh El Niño post up today that’s California-centric–for part of his dissertation he’s studying the RRR and how climate change and the Arctic changes impacted its persistence. I only lurk over there and I know that he too, like Robert, is responsive to people’s questions and questioning.

        http://weatherwest.com

        Reply
      • Leland Palmer

         /  September 3, 2015

        Thanks Robert, Thanks Maria.

        Reply
      • Leland Palmer

         /  September 3, 2015

        Go go Godzilla! – Blue Oyster Cult
        History shows again and again
        How Nature points up the folly of men

        Reply
  7. Dan B

     /  September 1, 2015

    Seattle got a preview of dangerous storms on Saturday. Sustained winds of 35 mph and gusts to 60. It was even worse north of here. Almost one million people lost power and thousands were still without power on Monday. It was a combination of winter storm winds and rain, deciduous trees in full leaf, extremely dry soils (not as absorbent – technical term is hydrophobic, ha!) which left little for tree roots to grip. I’m not looking forward to winter.

    Our local, and popular, meteorologist, Cliff Mass, refuses to connect these storms to climate change😦 He’s a skeptic, not a denier, but this does not help us prepare for more extreme weather events.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the eyewitness account, Dan. That particular storm system could best be described as sprawling. Huge coverage as it bullied along over top of the block.

      Reply
  8. Andy in SD

     /  September 2, 2015

    Maria,

    Not sure if you were in the SF area during the 97/98 El Nino. If not, it is worth a quick glance at some of the flooding that occurred in the old news articles and references. For example, tons of areas around the delta took major hits. And some tremendous destruction was avoided but pure luck. The levees were starting to top and crumble (they are 100 yr old dirt piles). There were areas where housing had replaced farms, in the areas below (yes below) the river (silting over the decades). Some cantons of housing faced potential 40 walls of water ripping through if the levees breached.

    Here is So Cal, Laguna looked like a Christo art project of tarps on hills. Houses, condos, all kinds of structures flowed down the hills into other homes. The PCH was a wash (sorry, had to say that one, groan). Roads that never had standing water had 8 ft. The 405 looked like a wreckage pile of abandoned vehicles. On ramps / off ramps were rivers. The drain spouts on buildings looked like fire hydrants on full blast. A 30 minute drive to work took 3 hours due to flooding and debris.

    Anything not bolted down was subject to floating away.

    The bulk of the rainfall runs off to the ocean (negating the dream of a “cured” drought), taking soil and some unfortunate cars with it.

    Sierras will see a nice dump. However we are 20 years later with higher temperatures. It will melt / run off quicker through the following summer(s).

    Central Valley is in deep trouble due to subsistence.

    I remember 97/98 quite well, it was memorable. And I’m concerned that all of us California will have that “story to tell” about the 15/16 El Nino.

    Reply
    • Oh my, Andy. I was not here for that season and yours is the most vividly written account I’ve read. Thanks so much. Your Christo art reference is perfect. Re: the levies, I just happened to read an article this w/e about how they are really just dirt piles. ????

      I’ve lived or visited CA(mostly NorCal, but love Laguna. Torrey Pines is my favorite beach in this country—best sunsets) for about 30 years(travel nursing, among other adventures) and the only natural disaster event that I was here for is Loma Prieta.

      CA is so progressive—it has suffered thru both extremes re: precipitation. I don’t understand why there is not better infrastructure to handle all this water due to flooding. Developing ways to catch the water before it goes to sea, for example. I’ve been reading as much as I can since last year when I returned and still don’t get it. Politics? The economy has also fluctuated dramatically.

      Why do you think better preparation hasn’t happened?

      The subsidence in the Central Valley is heartbreaking—yet, young pistachio orchards were allowed to be planted this season. Huge agro flexing its muscles over the smaller farmers—some left without water flowing thru their taps.

      It’s with issue of water/food security that I see myself getting involved as I learn more.

      Thanks again for your vivid description. I’ll dig up some old news articles.

      Reply
      • Weir Bohnd

         /  September 2, 2015

        Maria,

        In 97-98 in our household, at the time not far from Monterey Bay, it was called The Second Coming of the Forty Days and Forty Nights. You can’t prepare for something like that. Albert Hammond hit the pop music charts with a slice of the truth about Cali, but humans are funny animals. They find some truths to be really convenient to ignore.

        Reply
      • Thanks Weir…kids must have loved having all those “flood days.”😉

        Did some digging and learned you had the “Ground Hog’s Day Storm.” And….Y’all(SF) also had tornados and an arctic blast later that year. I was in Spain and missed all the coverage.

        The sf museum has some interesting factoids but they used an all caps font. That song was so popular back east when I was growing up in the 70s. I recall it being played at parties…???? Those days are gone. Different world, society, and now climate.

        http://www.sfmuseum.net/hist10/98wx.html

        Reply
  9. Tom

     /  September 2, 2015

    So many trees are dead in CA that i’m afraid a season of deluge will just turn to run-off and mud-slides. It’s tragic what’s going on out there.

    Reply
    • Root-withering severe droughts followed by extreme floods remove soil and lay bare rock. More acidic rain due to high atmospheric CO2 levels dissolves rock, forms calcium carbonate, and lowers atmospheric CO2 levels through the mineralization of carbon. It is a negative feedback that ultimately brings us out of super greenhouse climates. Unfortunately it is a very slow feedback, and things can get rather unpleasant in the interim.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  September 2, 2015

        “it is a very slow feedback, and things can get rather unpleasant in the interim.”

        Understatement of the millennium!

        Reply
    • redskylite

       /  September 2, 2015

      In The Conversation (US) today, a discussion on what it would take to put to an end of the drought (from Faith Kearns, Water Analyst, California Institute for Water Resources at University of California, and Doug Parker Director, California Institute for Water Resources and Strategic Initiative Leader for the Water Initiative at University of California… . . .

      “To that end, the National Drought Mitigation Center has a helpful guide that identifies four kinds of drought: meteorological, hydrological, agricultural and socioeconomic. This lens helps to explain the widespread impacts of California’s current drought, where we have been experiencing all four kinds simultaneously for several years. We have reduced precipitation and streamflows, irrigation water cutbacks and communities without running water. From this perspective, it becomes clear that increased precipitation alone will not signal an end to the drought. ”

      http://theconversation.com/what-would-it-take-to-end-californias-drought-46443

      Reply
    • All those dead or weak trees mean the winds are going to be a huge player in storm damage this year. Both to our infrastructure and homes. Yes, flooding and mudslides, not good, but I am just as worried about large tree limbs and trees coming down.

      Reply
  10. Syd Bridges

     /  September 2, 2015

    Thanks for another great post, Robert. I had noticed that NOAA had stated that Nino 3.4 had reached 2.2 deg C, and I was curious as to what you would have to say about it. The blob may at last be destroyed, but the consequences could be equally bad, as you point out. At least this may reduce the heat being pumped into the Arctic.

    I quite like “Godzilla versus the Blob,” which seems to sum it up well, including the likely damaging repercussions of the event. “The clash of the Titans” is a possible alternative as it also implies the titanic scale of this coming weather battle.

    However, torrential rain on dry, often burned, soils is not a good prospect. When I was a child, we sang a hymn where one verse read:

    “After the sun the rain,
    After the rain the sun.
    This is the way of life
    Till the world be done.”

    Now it’s a very different story.

    “After the rain the deluge,
    After the sun the drought.
    This is the way of death,
    As we’ll soon find out!”

    Thanks, again.

    Reply
  11. Apneaman

     /  September 2, 2015

    I guess Y’all don’t get Canadian news

    B.C. storm: Why did the wind and rain do so much damage?
    Weekend storm left half a million BC Hydro customers without power at its peak

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-storm-trees-damage-why-1.3210688

    No one is making the connection here either. No one wants to. Part of the society wide silent agreement to pretend.

    Reply
    • – This is what I noted from that
      “I think the main reason this happened is the wind came from the south, and these trees, fully foliated, got subjected to winds they weren’t used to and they don’t have anchoring roots in that area.”

      Reply
      • Griffin

         /  September 2, 2015

        Ozone damage is a major underlying reason as to why trees cannot handle winds when “fully foliated”. Since when did trees having leaves mean that they would topple in a storm? The problem of trees falling in a storm is everywhere now. This problem is much more widespread than most realize. I have been looking at the ones around me this year, the damage to them is evident seemingly on every tree.

        Reply
      • Griffin wrote:

        Ozone damage is a major underlying reason as to why trees cannot handle winds when “fully foliated”. Since when did trees having leaves mean that they would topple in a storm?

        It seems to me there is another possibility… Severe drought due to stalled weather patterns and higher temperatures resulting in higher rates of evaporation that are leading to the withering of roots, especially in the top layers of soil where brush and grasses are vulnerable. Soil has less connecting material to hold it together. Weather whiplash means that it is far more common for catastrophic flooding to follow on ťhe heals of drought, washing top soil away, then ťhe more vulnerable soil underneath. And this makes trees more vulnerable to high winds.

        I don’t doubt that higher ozone levels will pose a greater threat to agriculture and trees later in this century. I am not sure that high sensitivity to current levels is needed to explain why trees currently seem more prone to being toppled by strong winds.

        Reply
        • Drought and soil erosion due to increasingly extreme weather related to climate change absolutely have an impact on tree resiliency. It’s important to be careful and not look at a single issue when it comes to tree death. There are many causes — invasive species, inability to adapt to rapidly moving climate zones, increasingly extreme drought and rainfall patterns, increasingly extreme storms which includes a higher potential wind speed in some events, and stress to trees due to toxic emissions (NOx etc).

          But droughts absolutely play a role in mass tree death. So ignoring that is probably not such a great idea.

      • Keep in mind that tree canopies in full foliage catch the wind like sail cloth, and in full sail. They are catching a very strong force of many psi. Winds at crown altitude can be much stronger than at ground level.
        Terrain topography plays a part.
        In these days CC historical wind directions have also changed.
        All will stress the trees and their ability to anchor.
        If the tree was a sailing ship it would capsize.

        – A very good read is “Defining the Wind – The Beaufort Scale, and How a Nineteenth-Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry” by Scott Huler.

        – All wind data was conveyed in recognizable forms — ripples, white caps, tree behavior, leaves scattering, etc. A simplified meaningful lexicon which many depended on for life saving information.

        Reply
    • redskylite

       /  September 2, 2015

      Thanks Ray for sharing that; the Australian Bureau of Meteorology fortnightly wrap ups are a good, straight indicator on the state of ENSO …

      I just wonder how much different this ENSO event will be, because of the ever increasing effects of Climate Change, the change that it is hard to get everyone to admit, for some strange and obscure reason…

      This interesting assessment in the International Business News Today . . . .

      The current El Nino event could have devastating consequences for agriculture and disease as well as causing heavy rain in North and South America, with higher temperatures in Asia and Africa. Forecasters from the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) are warning that El Nino could gather strength, surface water temperatures in eastern-central parts of the Pacific Ocean are expected to be 2C higher than usual, well above the threshold for an El Niño. The weather phenomenon’s global climate impacts which are more likely to be felt over the next six to eight months.

      http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/el-nino-weather-phenomenon-among-four-strongest-events-since-1950-triggering-climate-pattern-1518055

      Reply
      • redskylite

         /  September 2, 2015

        and this take on the El Nino from Auntie Beeb . . . .

        “The current El Nino weather phenomenon could be one of the strongest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

        The event occurs when the waters of the Pacific become exceptionally warm and distort weather patterns around the world.

        Researchers say parts of the Pacific are likely to be 2C warmer than usual.

        The WMO says that this year’s event is strengthening and will peak by the end of this year.”

        http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34120583

        Reply
  12. I’m getting ready to batten-down the hatches up here in Washington state, although El Nino storm tracks often propagate a little farther south into California – at least generally so during my lifetime.

    The 1997 New Year’s event was a doozy! I was living in Reno, Nevada and we certainly had a rough ride. After snows accumulated in the Sierra Nevada mountains, a powerful warm storm drenched the region. Rapid snow-melt added to the rainfall and flooded the Truckee River running west-to-east through town. It completely filled-up the Helms gravel pit in adjacent Sparks (a federal super-fund site, now a lake and marina), and cutoff the north side of the city. The flooding was so extensive that dead fish were washing up in residential neighborhoods. My condo, about 200-300 yards south of the river, was inaccessible for a couple of days.

    My business was in Sacramento at the time, some 100 miles to the west connected by I-80. The interstate was partially closed at several locations. Eventually, I got through to my job site. Donner Summit (7,000 ft. elevation) was a mess of washed-out road infrastructure, downed trees, and debris scattered everywhere. There was little-to-no snow anywhere even on the highest peaks (10,000-11,000 ft.). Sacramento, and smaller towns along the way, also suffered from serious flooding. I recall discussions at work about weakening or ruptured levies along the Sacramento and American rivers. California’s capital dodged a bullet. Had the situation gotten any worse, Sacramento could’ve looked like New Orleans during hurricane Katrina.

    Just a little anecdote from memory…

    Reply
    • Quite the anecdote, Robert. Thanks. Were the local weather forecasters able to predict, give people lead time for these storms? Or was it hit or miss? What a time. I still want that ticket to the moon.

      Reply
      • Yes and no, Maria, and you’re welcome. Weather forecasts did accurately predict the probability of flooding, but that wasn’t enough to convey a sense of urgency to the public. For some reason, many people have difficulty accepting the severity or validity of scientific warnings. They are caught unprepared as in hurricane disasters. I recall my neighbors saying, “I didn’t know it would be THIS BAD!” Maybe that’s why we’re having so much trouble getting the public motivated about climate change.

        Reply
  13. redskylite

     /  September 2, 2015

    After reading Robert’s previous post on shades of a Canfield Ocean, this announcement from the University of Southern California made me sit up and take note today . . . .

    “Imagine being in a car with the gas pedal stuck to the floor, heading toward a cliff’s edge. Metaphorically speaking, that’s what climate change will do to the key group of ocean bacteria known as Trichodesmium, scientists have discovered.
    Trichodesmium (called “Tricho” for short by researchers) is one of the few organisms in the ocean that can “fix” atmospheric nitrogen gas, making it available to other organisms. It is crucial because all life — from algae to whales — needs nitrogen to grow.”

    Robert has drawn attention to the longer term risks that dwarf even forest fires and sea level rise …

    http://news.usc.edu/85742/climate-change-will-irreversibly-force-key-ocean-bacteria-into-overdrive/

    Reply
  14. redskylite

     /  September 2, 2015

    Unsurprisingly as we are in a year of record temperatures (again), Virginia Institute of marine Science has noted intense and widespread algal blooms around Chesapeake Bay ..

    “The current blooms are dominated by a single-celled protozoan called Alexandrium monilatum, an algal species known to release toxins harmful to other marine life, particularly larval shellfish and finfish. Since mid-August, VIMS has received sporadic and localized reports of small numbers of dead fish, oysters, and crabs from the lower York River and adjacent Bay waters associated with nearby blooms, although a direct cause/effect relationship has not been established for any of these events. ”

    http://www.vims.edu/newsandevents/topstories/hab_tools.php

    Reply
  15. “The Central and Eastern Pacific between 10 and 30 North… four tropical systems were churning northward out of an extremely hot El Nino zone”.
    – Indeed, Robert, I’ve been eyeing the frequency, of late, of these coming in thru the SE ‘back door’ and northing over the top of the Islands — like a detour.

    – For the sake of spirited discussion, I’m still not taking my money of off the RRR/blob as it stands over, or next to, a continent of much warmed terra firma at the high latitudes. And a nice soft Arctic with an intermittent jet stream.
    Storms could come ashore scattered up and down the coast — or all could barrel in over just one, or two locales.

    – I was in SB for the 97 etc El Nino. I took advantage of the warm water float on my back just beyond the surf line for physical therapy. I needed to learn to relax and trust my body, heart, and lungs after some major open heart surgery. Just floating and looking up at the sun and sky.
    – As for the rains. they felt like they were just plain luck when something much more substantial then drought was the norm.

    Reply
  16. – As for the Godzilla Blob … don’t leave out the ape.

    Godzilla VS King Kong

    Reply
  17. redskylite

     /  September 2, 2015

    I remember visiting Mongolia in the 1980’s, and staying in a yurt on the vast green steppes..
    sad to see the changes in more recent years, as shown in this Guardian pictorial …

    http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2015/sep/01/mongolian-nomads-way-of-life-lost-climate-change-in-pictures

    Reply
  18. redskylite

     /  September 2, 2015

    This looks like an item for the Abrupt Climate Change Early Warning Team, if it gets formed.

    “A slowdown of the ocean circulation is a double-edged sword: If we see some temperature changes associated it … and somehow are quick to act and alleviate the change, then we have the potential to stop it before it impacts rainfall globally,”

    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-09-ancient-cold-period-clues-future.html#jCp

    Reply
    • Tom

       /  September 2, 2015

      “and somehow are quick to act and alleviate the change” – HOW exactly, besides stopping fossil fuel use?

      Reply
      • redskylite

         /  September 2, 2015

        Good point . . . may be an oncoming apocalypse would work where diplomacy fails

        Reply
    • No worries. Trump has a wall in his back pocket for these kinds of emergencies.

      Reply
  19. redskylite

     /  September 2, 2015

    Bangladesh: Is it raining too much this year?

    Bangladesh’s Met office believes it is, and the pattern of this rainfall is something that has not been seen in the past decade. And blame it on the global climate change.

    http://www.thedailystar.net/country/unusual-rain-climate-change-blame-136609

    Reply
  20. Colorado Bob

     /  September 2, 2015

    And there’s no indication that fire season is letting up at all.

    More than 8.2 million acres have burned in U.S. wildfires this year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. That’s well above the 10-year average of about 5.57 million acres through Sept. 1.

    As the Washington Post notes, that’s larger than the total area of Maryland.

    http://www.wunderground.com/news/western-wildfires-latest-news

    Reply
    • Enigma of the trees that resist wildfires

      Spain is researching a particular cypress that resisted burning during their Cypfire in ’12.

      “On our way to what we knew would be a Dante-esque scene during that tragic summer, we felt deep sadness at the thought of losing a plot of such value to the conservation of biodiversity,” Bernabé Moya told BBC Mundo.
      “But we had hope that perhaps some of the cypresses had survived.”
      “When we got there we saw that all the common oaks, holm oaks, pines and junipers had completely burnt. But only 1.27% of the Mediterranean cypresses had ignited.”

      http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34116491

      Reply
  21. Wharf Rat

     /  September 2, 2015

    How much has water vapor change since ’98? TIA
    Rat

    Reply
    • At approx 8% increase in evaporation/precipitation… 0.2 + delta since 1998 = a +1.6 percent net global increase. Of course, the tendency is to spike at the extreme ends. And, if this El Nino hits the heights predicted we could top at +0.25 to +0.3 C and +2 to +2.4 percent respectively.

      If this thing hits above 1998, or anywhere near it, for that matter, there is a lot of moisture heading north. That getting kicked into some very unstable weather patterns during Fall and Winter sets the stage for some serious weather.

      Reply
  22. Colorado Bob

     /  September 2, 2015

    Climate change will irreversibly force key ocean bacteria into overdrive

    Scientists demonstrate that key organism in ocean’s foodweb will start reproducing at high speed as carbon dioxide levels rise, with no way to stop when nutrients become scarce

    Link

    Reply
    • labmonkey2

       /  September 2, 2015

      Quite an interesting read. The car metaphor is very apt (“Imagine being in a car with the gas pedal stuck to the floor, heading toward a cliff’s edge. Metaphorically speaking, that’s what climate change will do to the key group of ocean bacteria known as Trichodesmium, scientists have discovered.”) Toonces the Driving Cat comes to mind when car meets cliff.

      And like any other runaway process, there are too many impacts to, and feed backs from, other tangent processes that we have yet to completely fathom (pun intended).
      Not looking good for the oceans health – the trickle down will impact us all.
      Equilibrium is a terrible thing to upset (you can’t fool [with] Mother Nature), and expect no collateral impacts to the whole system.

      Reply
  23. What are the possibilities, given the Monster El Niño and the Blob, the Southern Calif will have a hurricane hit, as in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1858_San_Diego_hurricane or at least a very damaging tropical storm as in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1939_California_tropical_storm

    Reply
    • Sea surface temperatures off California are in the range of 65 to 72 F all up and down the coast. A fast moving, northward bound storm could keep hurricane intensity (cat 1, 2, maybe 3 in the southern zone with 70 – 72 F SSTs) in those waters if the atmospheric conditions were right. The RRR would have to back off north and west and a steering high would need to develop over NW Mexico through Arizona and New Mexico to create a pathway for such a storm. I’d call this possible and something to keep an eye out for. But such a storm developing isn’t really in the forecast right now (next 5-10 days).

      TD 14 is expected to peeter out off Baja due to wind sheer. Jimena is expected to track north and northwest to the north and east of Hawaii. This storm will tend to be shoved westward by the RRR. But forecasts do show the RRR backing off a bit with Jimena eventually tracking to the west side of the ridge. Ignacio is expected to track northward and eventually skirt or impact the Aleutians and possibly the Alaska/Canada coastline in the 7-14 day timeframe.

      5-10 day forecasts don’t yet support new storm development in EPAC near enough to threaten CA.

      Reply
  24. Alec, aka Daffy Duck

     /  September 2, 2015

    180 hour animated North Pacific forecast…. Watch the typhoon meet the blob http://www.stormsurfing.com/cgi/display_alt.cgi?a=npac_slp

    Reply
    • Thanks for posting the graphic. GFS does tend to steer Ignacio into Alaska/Canada. ECMWF tends to track it more northward and at a slower pace.

      Kilo looks horrific in the 180 hour GFS. ECMWF turns it north. But in GFS a ridge to the north keeps guiding it toward Japan. Something to watch…

      Reply
      • Yeah, a great graphic for storm surf. PAUSE and PLAY stop action is helpful.
        Thanks, AaDD.

        – My first board (1963) was a 10′ 2″ balsa board. Then I got a 9′ 4″ foam. No leash — just sink or swim… Ha.
        – I had lotsa fun in ’83 after not being in the water for 13 years — when I moved back to SB and got a Boogie Board and some fins. Wow – that was fun. For me Boogie boarding with a buddy was more like watery and tubular Roller Derby or Bumper Cars.

        Reply
  25. For DT—noise pollution and birds. Interestingly, the researchers placed taped recordings of traffic noise in the habitat—hence, precluding the issue of confounding variables impacting the birds.

    Road Noise Takes a Toll on Migrating Birds

    […..She and her colleagues studied the reactions by birds to the sounds of vehicles. And they did it without paving the great outdoors. Instead, they mounted 15 pairs of speakers on Douglas fir trees, along a ridge near Boise, and played traffic noise. <> They thus created what they call a “phantom road” through the wilderness, which boosted local noise levels 10 decibels higher than those in the surrounding forest.

    Turns out just the sounds of traffic scared away a third of the area’s usual avian visitors, and cut species diversity too. And birds of multiple species were not able to pack on as much fat to fuel their migrations, when they were forced to dine to the soundtrack of traffic.

    Follow-up experiments in the lab found that, when it’s noisy, birds spend a lot less time head down, pecking at food, and a lot more time scanning their surroundings. “You can imagine if you take away that ability to listen for predators, birds have to compensate by looking around more. It sort of wastes their time, right? Instead of spending their time eating they have to spend their time doing other things.”………]

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/road-noise-takes-a-toll-on-migrating-birds/

    Reply
    • – Thank you. Maria.

      – It’s just insane with what we do with our machines, and our callous disregard for the ability of life around us just to sustain itself.

      The birds are made to be hyper vigilant. Many struggle to fulfill their mating routines.
      Urban wildlife is even more tormented. Add in the night lighting, power tool roar and scream, and the many personal audio devices — and you have a very cruel situation.

      – I still have in my mind Mockingbirds in Santa Barbara trying to duplicate those insidious car alarms.
      One of the best Mockingbird sound was a certain phone answering machine message from a particular residence. Many Mockers nested in hedges next to houses, etc.
      – Ah, but then the air pollution stressed the hedges — and all of the power hedge trimmers left dozens of jagged cuts and wounds on all of the branches and twigs. All of this collateral damage was done to trim certain targeted hedge parts. Then the power blowers would blow, blast, and embed toxic traffic dust into the wounds, and cover the undersides of the foliage which already had its upper surfaces covered with air born fallout.

      – The very throaty and strong voiced male Song Sparrows around here in PDX have to really struggle to be heard.

      – Humans living near traffic corridors suffer much the same consequences — all kind of nervous disorders, etc besides the toxic air pollution. I think some recent study has been done – I will check.)

      Ps The road noise in the clip is a bit tame but shows the huge impact it has. I’m sure glad these people are doing something to defend the birds.

      Thanks again, Maria.

      – Let’s see if this older Twitter photo I took works. It’s just a nice one of a Red Shafted Flicker foraging in the snow in Flagstaff, AZ 2013.

      Reply
      • – I still get a peaceful feeling viewing this. In these situations, if your movements are in sync with the natural world and the wildlife, around you — you become just another part of it — and if you keep a respectful distance you can have a very rewarding experience as you share a few moments with the wildlife.

        Reply
    • You’re very welcome, DT. One of the best Mockingbird sound was a certain phone answering machine message from a particular residence.
      That’s incredible.

      Lucky you to come so close to a Red Shafted Flicker……..indeed, those rare moments of feeling in sync with all of creation are like no other. We try to capture it, encapsulate it with words, with images, but it’s the felt experience, being mindful while letting go of one’s mind to become part of the soil, the leaves, the sounds and smells………..nothing like it.

      Reply
  26. Greg

     /  September 2, 2015

    Shell shedding 6500 jobs citing continued low oil prices and their expensive acquisition of BG. Revenue dropped almost 46 billion dollars from same quarter last year. Expect capital expenditures to drop significantly, Arctic anyone? Note from analyst ““If we stop doing this (growth), we might as well pack up and go home,” Might we suggest that they pull their suitcases off the shelf sooner rather than later?

    http://fuelfix.com/blog/2015/07/30/shell-to-ax-thousands-of-jobs-amid-7-billion-in-spending-cuts/#34195101=0

    Reply
  27. Greg

     /  September 2, 2015

    IRI model of drought and rainfall patterns for next 3 months:

    Reply
  28. Greg

     /  September 2, 2015

    Cuba faces very serious challenges from drought. Not sure how much Erika impacted Caribbean as a whole (Dominica flooded badly) but Cuba needs rain and hurricane activity not expected. “Cuban and foreign forecasters agree that the current drought has largely been created by the combined impacts of climate change and the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO)”:
    http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/938863.shtml

    Reply
  29. Colorado Bob

     /  September 2, 2015

    The World Lost An Area Of Trees Twice The Size Of Portugal In 2014

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/09/02/3697519/tree-cover-loss-2014/

    Reply
    • Man is that brutal…

      Reply
    • – “accelerating clearing associated with commodities such as rubber, beef, and soy, along with palm oil.”

      – The rubber will become tires that will be shredded into tiny particles and will part of our air land and water or will burn and enter the atmosphere. Tire rubber will have carbon black added to it.
      The beef will consume many times its weight (A wild guess but useful for its scope of impacts.) in water and fossil fuels.
      Much of the soy will become animal feed for, beef, hogs and dogs — all water and fossil fuel intensive. Much of the soy will be GMO, and will be pesticide and herbicide intensive.
      The palm oil will be used for non essential consumer junk vanity products like cosmetics and for ‘mouth feel’ obesity promoting corporate products.

      – With that kind of ‘shopping list’ rap sheet — I kind of doubt any ‘Creator’ would look too kindly upon us if we try to enter the spirit world.

      OUT

      Reply
  30. Colorado Bob

     /  September 2, 2015

    largest aerial view of World’s fastest glacier, calving enormous iceberg
    Jason Box

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  September 2, 2015

      Sometime May, 2014 AirZafari (+299 55 28 19) guest photographer Ruben Wernberg-Poulsen captured a new perspective on massive Greenland glacier calving.

      Reply
  31. climatehawk1

     /  September 2, 2015

    Tweeting.

    Reply
  32. Re; El Niño, RRR, the Blob, I posted this upthread in response to Leland—want to make sure others, if interested know about it.

    Daniel Swain has a new post up today where he goes into detail about all aspects of El Niño. It is California-centric re: predictions. Interestingly, he’s coined another system: TTT—Truly Tenacious Trough replacing the RRR.

    http://weatherwest.com

    Reply
    • TTT is Dr Jennifer Francis’s term. Although she used it for the east coast and called it the Terribly Tenacious Trough.

      Reply
      • Oh ok…thanks for the clarification, Robert.

        Reply
      • Robert, would this be the low that is part of the North American dipole identified in:

        Open Access: Wang, S.-Y., L. Hipps, R. R. Gillies, and J.-H. Yoon, 2014: Probable causes of the abnormal ridge accompanying the 2013-14 California drought: ENSO precursor and anthropogenic warming footprint. Geophysical Research Letters.
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL059748/abstract

        Reply
      • Robert, I just finished reading Dr. Francis piece in your link. It is excellent. You’ve discussed much of what she talks about, but this area is so far from the world I’ve inhabited both professionally and personally, my entire life, I’m finding that myb brain needs to read different versions(or repetitions?) of the explanations for things to begin to click.

        I’ve been so preoccupied with what’s happening in North America/Arctic– someone in the comments asked her about the Southern Hemisphere and this is what she said–I know you and many here know the answer but perhaps there are other lurkers who also need this information to enhance their understanding of the big picture. Thanks again for the link.

        Thanks for your kind words, Stuart!The changes in the southern hemisphere are very different from those in the north. Antarctica is not warming rapidly like the Arctic is (except for the peninsula), mainly because it lacks many of the strong amplifying mechanisms that operate in the Arctic. As you know, the Arctic is an ocean covered in sea ice (1-2 meters thick on average), while the Antarctic is a continent covered in an ice cap that’s kilometers thick. As sea ice disappears in the Arctic, it allows more of the sun’s energy to be absorbed into the ocean, which melts more ice. This is one of the amplifying mechanisms. In Antarctica, however, most of the sea ice around the continent melts back to the coast every summer, so there’s no mechanism to amplify the melt process.

        Regarding the SH jet stream, indications are that it’s actually increasing in speed and shifting southward because of high-level cooling over the continent owing to the recovery of the ozone hole and increasing greenhouse gases (both increase the loss of infrared energy (i.e., cooling) in upper levels of the atmosphere). This southward contraction of the jet stream has also shifted the storm track southward, caused fewer storms and cold fronts to affect southern continents, contributing to recent heat waves and droughts.

        Most of the increased melting of ice shelves around Antarctica has been linked to warming ocean temperatures.

        Reply
  1. Monster El Nino Hurls Record Barrage of Hurricanes at Hot Blob, Sets Sights on Drought-Ravaged California | GarryRogers Nature Conservation and Science Fiction (#EcoSciFi)
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