Shift in the Wind May Push Gargantuan Fort McMurray Fire Toward Tar Sands Facilities on Saturday

The Fort McMurray Fire is now so vast that it has both burned through and completely surrounded the city, its airport, and the neighboring community of Anzac 31 miles to the south. Spinning out blazes in a long tail across the green forested land of Canada, the fire now appears to cover about 40 miles of distance and 10 miles of width at its longest and widest points. A secondary fire to the northeast of the main blaze also appears to have lit off. And by the end of Saturday officials now believe the fire could cover an area the size of Rhode Island.

Fort McMurray Fire May 6 v2 NASA

(Fort McMurray Fire as seen from above in the May 6 NASA/LANCE MODIS satellite shot. This huge fire now covers an approximate 10×40 mile swath of land, is throwing off numerous pyrocumulous clouds, and has spawned a secondary large fire to the northeast. In the upper left hand corner of the image above we see the bald landscapes of tar sands facilities. Smoke plume analysis indicates that the northern extent of this monstrous fire is just 3 miles to the south of the nearest tar sands facility in this shot. For purposes of scale, bottom edge of frame is 60 miles. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Viewing the massive scope and extent of the blaze, one can see why an evacuation convoy of 1,500 vehicles — composed of members of the fire response team and a number of stranded evacuees from the tar sands industrial zone — was unable to flee the region earlier on Friday. BBC News reports indicated that the convoy encountered walls of flames 200 feet high and was forced to turn back to a city that finds itself surrounded with walls of flame on every side. This was the second time in two days that the evacuation convoy attempted to leave the fire zone and the second time that all ways out were found to be blocked by the fires. Thousands of people remain stranded in the fire zone to the north of the blaze and officials say it will take four days to move them once a clear pathway out is found

RCMP reported that by late Friday a third attempt from the convoy, now swelling to 2,500 vehicles, finally made its way south away from the fire zone. This attempt succeeded after encountering very dense smoke and making multiple stops through the burn scar region. Emergency evacuation leaders were concerned about fires encircling the evacuation convoy as it progressed. But fortune prevailed and the train of cars, trucks, and emergency response vehicles made it through. About three more days will be required to move the rest of the evacuees if a clear path out can be found, according to RCMP statements. (For more information on how to help those displaced by the fire look here.).

Hot Winds to Drive Fire Toward Tar Sands Saturday

GFS model forecasts indicate that temperatures will rise into the mid 80s Saturday. Yet another day of record hot readings for a climate change baked Canada. Winds are shifting toward the south. And very dry conditions will continue to worsen the already extreme levels of fire danger. With the fire now burning very close to the Athabasca oil production facility — a section of the tar sands that was evacuated yesterday due to fire encroachment — it appears that these winds will likely drive the fire toward and, possibly, into that industrial section.

Fort McMurray Fire Expansion Map

(Fort McMurray fire expansion map produced by the regional municipality of Wood Buffalo and the Natural Resources Center of Canada shows the freakish rapidity with which the Fort McMurray Fire has expanded. Today, a similar northward expansion toward the tar sands industrial zone is possible.)

Over the past few days, this fire has shown an ability to move very rapidly — covering many miles of ground in just a short period. And officials estimate that the blaze could expand to an enormous 300,000 hectares (750,000 acres or nearly 1,200 square miles or an area roughly the size of Rhode Island) on Saturday. Trees surrounding the barren strip mines of the tar sands facilities provide abundant fuel for these fires and volatile chemicals produced in the facilities add an additional severe hazard. The tar sands soil is laced with bitumen — which is not typically concentrated enough to burn. However, the extreme heat of these fires may cause some of the more concentrated zones to smolder — adding to potential fuels and fire hotspots.

To this point, the biggest concern is over what may happen if the fires do get into the oil facilities. The chemical and gas facilities in the tar sands are among the largest and most volatile in the world. Many single storage units contain enough explosive compounds to generate multi-kiloton scale blasts if their container vessels are breached. And a few facilities are capable of generating enormous explosions. The Nexen Long Lake oil extraction site is one of these. And officials note that, if this particular site were to explode, it could produce a devastating blast capable of leveling trees and structures in a 14 kilometer radius. If this understanding of the officially stated estimate is correct, then it would roughly be equivalent to 30-40 million tons of TNT going off.

“We’re looking at a blast area of about 14 kilometres if that plant were to go,” said Sgt Jack Poitras in an interview with BBC at about 7:00 AM Saturday.

Fort McMurray Weather

(Southwest winds and temperatures in the 80s will worsen fire conditions on Saturday — creating a risk that the Fort McMurray fire will sweep into the tar sands production facilities. By Sunday, another front brings with it the potential for rain — which may help firefighters contain the blaze. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Given the predicted weather conditions, the available fuels, and the extraordinary scope and force of the ongoing conflagration around Fort McMurray there is risk that fires will invade the tar sands production zone on Saturday. It’s also worth noting that Arctic and Northern Latitude wildfires like the Fort McMurray Fire have had a tendency to burn for a long time during recent years — lasting for many days and sometimes weeks. Adding to the tree fuels, the ground provides its own set of ignitable materials in fires so large and so hot as this one. The top layer of soil contains old leaf litter, organic material and deadfall — a layer about three feet thick that will burn in the most extreme blazes. This region of Alberta also contains deposits of discontinuous permafrost. During recent years, these permafrost zones have thawed more and more with the advance of global warming. Permafrost is carbon rich and produces its own peat-like fuel which can burn and smolder over very long periods. And there is concern that the new fires produced by climate change over Canada may serve as a mechanism for permafrost carbon release.

Record heat and climate change, therefore, provide an explosive combination of new fuels and added ignition sources for fires like the one that is now engulfing so much of this tar sands production zone. And as bad as these fires have been over the past week, Saturday may see the situation again worsen.

After the heat and dangerous wind shift on Saturday, Sunday brings with it cooler conditions and a return of northwesterly winds. Earlier forecasts had indicated a possibility of rain as well. But very dry air in the region is suppressing cloud formation and chances of precipitation are now near zero for Sunday and on through at least the next week. With such a large and hot-burning fire — rain is really the best hope that firefighters have of getting this enormous blaze under control anytime soon.

Links:

LANCE-MODIS

Canadian Wildfire Halts Evacuation Convoy

Fort McMurray Fire Updates

Earth Nullschool

How to help Fort McMurray Evacuees

Fort McMurray’s Fire to Double in Size

Canada’s Huge Fires May Release Carbon Locked in Permafrost

Hat Tip to Kevin Jones

Hat Tip to DT Lange

Hat Tip to TodaysGuestIs

Hat Tip to Vic

Hat Tip to Redsky

(Frequent updates please hit refresh for the latest)

Leave a comment

235 Comments

  1. Man oh man…it’s only early May!!

    Reply
  2. Jay M

     /  May 7, 2016

    They evacuated north, no alternative since the highway was blocked to the south where the fire originated. Now there are attempted breakouts with these convoys. I say, this is very dramatic, like WW2 or something, trying to move all these people to safety. All there is is a N/S conduit highway that goes to Edmonton. Trying to maintain civilization in the boreal zones is a mess.

    Reply
    • Jay M

       /  May 7, 2016

      Just to add that my reading is that the winds are south to north and hot. They had no alternative to evacuating north but the underlying conditions maintained and are predicted to go for a few days.
      South is where there is more infrastructure when you get down to Edmonton. They might want to mark off some of the profits they think they have made.

      Reply
      • Jay M

         /  May 7, 2016

        west coast whirling a bit under wavey jetstream:

        Reply
      • wili

         /  May 7, 2016

        “They might want to mark off some of the profits they think they have made.”

        Ah, but that’s not the way it works, you know, my boy. No, it’s always: “Privatize the profits, but socialize the costs!”

        Reply
  3. redskylite

     /  May 7, 2016

    Robert, thanks for keeping abreast of this alarming wake-up call, just hope all the evacuees will get out eventually, they must be going through hell. Not sure if anyone has posted this from the New Scientist today, it is worthy of a read.

    Canada’s huge wildfires may release carbon locked in permafrost. . . . .

    “This is carbon that the ecosystem has not seen for thousands of years and now it’s being released into the atmosphere,” says Turetsky. “We need to start thinking about permafrost and we need to start thinking about deep carbon and everything we can do to inhibit the progression of climate change.”

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2087214-canadas-huge-wildfires-may-release-carbon-locked-in-permafrost/

    Reply
  4. Andy in SD

     /  May 7, 2016

    Hey Robert,

    NW of the southern tip of Balkal, you can another one starting.

    http://www.arctic.io/explorer/24/2016-05-05/8-N52.29163-E103.53845

    Reply
  5. Cate

     /  May 7, 2016

    On the evening news panels, the consensus is that rebuilding Fort Mac will take years, and even then, with no guarantees anything will be as it was. The cutback in production is already having a negative impact on Canadian economic forecasts and measures. Short to medium term: nowhere but down for Big Oil in Canada. But this has been a brutal way to receive a very hard lesson, and like so much with Big Oil, the smallest folks suffer most.

    Reply
    • Cate

       /  May 7, 2016

      The elephant in the room: that a “return to business-as-usual in Fort Mac may simply not be in the cards…there’s been is a growing sense…that the oil sands is somewhat of a sunset industry…..”

      http://www.macleans.ca/economy/how-bad-will-the-fires-in-fort-mcmurray-hit-the-economy/

      Reply
      • You know, I just wish we could have been wise enough to avoid this mess in the first place. It’s the oil version of the Titanic. Well, climate change is that too. It’s just so hard to get people who think of themselves as elite to listen to reason. The exploitative personality is, in the end, self and other destructive.

        Reply
  6. Andy in SD

     /  May 7, 2016

    Meanwhile ….

    In China, north of North Korea, I count 7 forest fires in this single area.

    http://www.arctic.io/explorer/24/2016-05-05/6-N51.73682-E127.77979

    Reply
  7. While unprocessed bitumen may not ignite, I have to wonder how much oil and gas is present in the site in combustible forms, as there are refineries in the town that separate oil from bitumen, though I’m not sure if these are in the path of the fire.

    Meanwhile, the cracking of the Beaufort has extended across the Arctic into the Laptev sea, suggesting that the entire Arctic basin is getting caught up in a single death-spiral vortex. All this on the heals of a massive heat influx on the Pacific side a few days out.
    Lowest extent, area, likely volume, and snow cover as well.

    Reply
  8. Cate

     /  May 7, 2016

    Reposting this here for anyone who may have missed it, as it seems to answer a number of questions about what can burn in the tarsands. Answer: pretty much everything.

    Note, this is not a science journal, it’s Canada’s “national newsmagazine.”

    http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/could-the-oil-sands-catch-fire/

    Reply
  9. zeke

     /  May 7, 2016

    The American media is downplaying this to the max. Asked a neighbor what he thought of Ft McMurray. Reply was “what”. Then “oh, that fire in Canada”. Asked my daughter, a GS 14 for the Fed, and the response was the same. Not long ago, couple of months, a local woman asked “is this global warming real?”. It’s simply not a serious issue to all but a small minority. Even those who “are aware” don’t see any real danger. I live in northern Minnesota where the most pressing question is “how many grandchildren do you have?” And the entire world is Bemidji, MN and Phoenix/Florida in the winter. And so we go, blissfully unaware, into the future.

    Reply
    • I had an Internet problem earlier today. The guy on the phone was nice enough. He was very concerned about ISIS and may have remembered a little about a fire up in Canada but couldn’t remember the name of the place. Didn’t believe climate change was a real problem. And told me to ‘stay true to the faith’ at the end of the service call. I swear to God, sometimes I feel like I live in that old TV show the Twilight Zone.

      Reply
      • – YOU RANG? RIGHT THIS WAY…🙂

        Reply
        • I did. And now that I watch the trailer I find that climate change denial is both stranger and more horrific.

      • My world gets smaller every day. I can only deal with people in careful measures and I spend less and less time online. This is currently the only site where I can read comments without a dose of Xanax so thanks everyone for that.

        Reply
        • 🙂 Cheers Marcy. We do our best. And thank you for helping to make this place a kind one where the exchange of ideas is uninterrupted by other stuff.

      • Ryan in New England

         /  May 7, 2016

        I have the same experiences and frustrations with the average citizen. It’s like I live on another planet, a planet in a climate emergency, and everyone else is somewhere else. Even educated individuals I know sort their problems according to how the media presents them. But for the typical American ISIS (which statistically is far less deadly and dangerous than the furniture i your home) is the major concern, followed by immigration (they’re terrified by Mexicans and Muslims), and other serious problems like gay marriage and transgender people who think they have the right to use restrooms like everyone else, and like they always have. It’s a sad, sad state of affairs. I asked someone if they heard about what’s happening in Ft McMurray this morning, they asked,”where?”. And when I explained what was happening they calmly told me that fighting forest fires is what leads to forest fires and they should just let it burn out. Nobody has any clue about the frightening state of things, and if thy know they don’t care. Well you know what? The residents of Ft McMurray care now. Sadly, I think it will take tragedies like this occurring in people’s backyards to really open their eyes.

        Robert’s site here is so crucial and important for giving us a place to speak to others who care about these issues, and share information and thoughts with like minded people. If I didn’t know all of you existed I swear I think I would lose my mind. It can be very isolating knowing the world is on a path towards devastation and ruin, when everybody else is blissfully ignorant and apathetic.

        Reply
  10. Griffin

     /  May 7, 2016

    Another large fire east of Winnipeg can be seen in today’s MODIS shots. Sure seems like these fires are growing quickly once they get going.
    https://lance.modaps.eosdis.nasa.gov/imagery/subsets/?subset=AERONET_Pickle_Lake.2016127.terra.250m

    Reply
  11. Andy in SD

     /  May 7, 2016

    Google Crisis Map for most recent up close satellite imagery.

    http://www.google.org/crisismap/2016-fort-mcmurray-fire

    Reply
    • We’ve got fires popping up all around the tar sands. The one to the NE is rated at 1,500 ha in the Google crisis map. No slacker there.

      Reply
  12. This entire thread would have to be included in an updated version of “The Age of Stupid”. It’s a pity that Peter Postlethwaite has passed, but they can do miraculous things with CGI these days. I’m sure they could resurrect his image to read the lines.

    Reply
    • That would do it. Burning fossil fuels was dumb. Failing to heed the warnings of scientists, then actively suppressing climate change warnings while doubling down on fossil fuel burning was dumber.

      Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  May 7, 2016

      By Michael Mann and Tom Toles
      https://climatecrocks.com/2016/05/07/the-madhouse-effect/

      Through satire, “The Madhouse Effect” portrays the intellectual pretzels into which denialists must twist logic to explain away the clear evidence that man-made activity has changed our climate.

      But then it is Satire, maybe too hard for deniers and the Trumpists to comprehend

      Reply
      • wili

         /  May 7, 2016

        On another forum, a denialist just, in the same sentence, claimed that he was absolutely sure that GW could not be stopped, and that this undoubtedly unstoppable phenomenon could not be proved to actually exist. The head is left spinning trying to imagine what kind of logic these people think they are exercising.

        Reply
      • Syd Bridges

         /  May 7, 2016

        I think of it as the Republican Reality Transform (RRT). It’s as powerful and flexible as Doublethink was in George Orwell’s 1984. Using the RRT, you can prove anything you like. Hottest year on record? Well, that’s the exception that proves the rule that we’re entering the next Ice Age. Governor Snyder saves money in Flint, and poisons its citizens with lead? Well, that’s their fault for having lead pipes in the first place. Arctic ice is melting away? Well, prove it when we won’t launch the monitoring satellites. Temperatures in Alberta 15 deg C warmer than normal? Natural variability. Temperature in Lower Perdunc, UT, two degrees below normal yesterday? The Ice Age is coming! CO2 at Mauna Loa 407.65 yesterday? Well, it was higher earlier this week, so it’s going DOWN, you alarmists!

        Furthermore, my Pastor, Hiram Q Gimmeyourmoney, of the God Rewards the Rich Church, says that Jesus will look after good people like me, and it’s only sinners like the rest of you, who are going to get your just desserts.

        Reply
  13. – An impact wildfire smoke.

    Reply
  14. – As the Fort Mac convoys roll — there is a global picture to keep in mind. I know most of us here on Robert’s blog do just that.

    ‘This Is Why We Are In The Biggest Humanitarian Crisis Since WWII’

    Over 125 million people around the world are affected by crises and natural disasters

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/worldhumanitarianday/the-biggest-humanitarian-crisis-since-wwii?utm_term=.dwMQyN7z9#.crDlD90qL

    Reply
    • Cate

       /  May 7, 2016

      Even as we offer shelter to refugees and evacuees over the coming years and decades, we have to be very clear that there is no running from this There is no cover, no escape. Our only survival strategy must be to turn and face it.

      Reply
      • Kudos. That’s exactly what needs to be done.

        Reply
      • Syd Bridges

         /  May 7, 2016

        When I was a kid in the ’60s there was a TV crime series called “No Hiding Place.” I think that is a good title for the world Exxon-Mobil and others have created for us.

        Reply
      • Kevin Jones

         /  May 7, 2016

        Thou shalt not oxidize! (more than absolutely necessary….)

        Reply
  15. – More confirmation of what’s ahead for the fire area — and regions.
    Met Office ‏@metoffice 2h2 hours ago

    Rising temperatures and dry conditions today will likely hinder fire relief efforts in #Alberta.

    Reply
    • 07:17 UTC
      NWS Fairbanks ‏@NWSFairbanks 2h2 hours ago

      9 pm and it remains warm around Fairbanks and North Pole with temperatures in the mid 50s!

      Reply
      • – And in the Southern Hemisphere — AU:
        Kees van der Leun ‏@Sustainable2050 21m21 minutes ago

        Australia just had it’s 2nd hottest April ever, 2.0°C above normal (1961-1990). Rainfall was 67% below normal.

        Reply
  16. Colorado Bob

     /  May 7, 2016

    The wildfire still raging near Fort McMurray, Alberta, has a high potential to double to half a million acres by the end of the day Saturday, Alberta wildfire officials said in a press conference Friday evening

    https://www.wunderground.com/news/fort-mcmurray-wildfire-alberta

    Reply
    • Canada’s Fort McMurray wildfire ‘to double in size’

      Officials in Canada say the huge wildfire which has devastated the oil town of Fort McMurray in Alberta could double in size over the next 24 hours

      The provincial government said on Friday that the fire had grown to 1,000 sq km (386 sq miles).

      There is also concern about oil facilities, particularly near Nexen’s Long Lake oil extraction site.
      “We’re looking at a blast area of about 14 kilometres if that plant were to go,” said Sgt Jack Poitras.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-36235175

      Reply
  17. Cate

     /  May 7, 2016

    Saturday morning: word that Syncrude is evacuating. The plan is to have operations shut down and all personnel out by Saturday evening.

    There are some eports from folks on the ground there in this FB group—see this thread in particular:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1616840568638530/permalink/1620173968305190/

    Note: this group is a clearing house for info for evacuees, so all info to be taken with a grain of salt as it’s not “official” news.

    Reply
  18. Smoke from Alberta fires migrates into the United States
    http://wildfiretoday.com/tag/smoke/

    Reply
  19. Kevin Jones

     /  May 7, 2016

    CBC reports “may double in size by days end”…..156,000 hectares burned so far. 385,000 acres
    601 sq. mi. This reported 5:18am May 7th. Toronto time, I presume.

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  May 7, 2016

      CBC now says “could reach 2000 sq km by days end.” 200,000 hectares. ~ 500,000 acres 772 sq mi….. (10:14 am EST)

      Reply
  20. wili

     /  May 7, 2016

    We’re now getting smoke from Canadian and Northern Minnesota fires here in Minneapolis. Last night I looked out and could barely see the end of the block, the ground level smoke was so heavy. I at first assumed a local building was on fire somewhere. I had to go to Wunderground to figure out that it was actually fires hundreds to over a thousand miles away that were causing this thick, ground level haze!

    Reply
  21. frank fox

     /  May 7, 2016

    Normally I do not believe in a vengeful god…

    Reply
    • ‘The destroyers of the Earth shall be destroyed.’

      The tragedy of human greed is far more vengeful and malicious than any god.

      Reply
  22. Vic

     /  May 7, 2016

    Reply
  23. Vic

     /  May 7, 2016

    Reply
    • WU 0507
      “This is a nasty, dirty fire,” Fort McMurray Fire Chief Darby Allen told the AP. “There are certainly areas of the city that have not been burned, but this fire will look for them and it will find them and it will want to take them.”

      Reply
  24. Vic

     /  May 7, 2016

    Reply
  25. Griffin

     /  May 7, 2016

    Very impressive storm!

    Reply
    • GFS predicts this thing is going to hang around just off the Iberian Peninsula for about 5-7 days. Looks like Spain is going to get a taste of the nasty new North Atlantic weather.

      Reply
      • Reply
      • PlazaRed

         /  May 7, 2016

        Believe me we are already getting it.
        Raining now and has been for the last 2 days. It was so heavy yesterday in the Moron de la Frontera area where I was that visibility was only about 20 yards clearly.
        About 4 inches fell in Coin in the Malaga province yesterday and more is forecast for tonight and all day tomorrow. 100% rainfall expected for the whole of Iberia land area today and tomorrow at some point.
        Then its going to rain on and off until at least Wednesday.
        Now considering that it does not often rain at all in southern Spain in May and if it does its only a short burst so this is “Interesting for us!
        If that Atlantic low was to drift any nearer to Portugal then there could be all sorts of flooding problems.
        A very bad side effect of heavy rain at this time of the year is that 100s of square kilometres of hilly land have just been ploughed after the winter and now the soil is turning the rivers to mud in some areas.
        Temps are very low as well for the time of the year.
        Next there will be vast amounts of undergrowth and then the fire will start here in earnest by June.
        Que Sera Sera?

        Reply
      • XWF WEATHER ‏@WeatherXwf 8h8 hours ago

        Latest GFS forecast image May 19, 2016 of expected Arabian Sea tropical cyclone

        Reply
  26. Colorado Bob

     /  May 7, 2016

    Plowable Hail Piles Up in Western Nevada

    Unlike severe thunderstorms that develop when temperatures are high and cloud tops reach 50 to 60 thousand feet, this was a colder environment (the surface temperature was around 50 degrees) and cloud tops were much lower.

    Link

    Reply
  27. Griffin

     /  May 7, 2016

    As Andy has pointed out, there are fires erupting in southeast Russia as well. The upper fire in this shot is just the other side of the river from the town of Yubileynyy. Large burn scars are evident all across the area. We are well on the way towards another summer of “beautiful sunsets” on social media again this year due to the high amount of smoke making it’s way across the globe.
    https://lance.modaps.eosdis.nasa.gov/imagery/subsets/?subset=NortheastChina.2016128.terra.2km

    Reply
  28. Colorado Bob

     /  May 7, 2016

    Boxing Day floods showcased through new film on YouTube

    Journalism student Calvin Robinson made the short documentary to highlight the extent of the devastation

    Link

    Reply
  29. I’m still posting SLR & ice related links on previous 0506 ‘The Slow Drowning of the Jersey Coast ‘ to keep this one more focused on current fire news.
    https://robertscribbler.com/2016/05/06/the-slow-drowning-of-the-jersey-coast-seas-have-risen-so-high-that-it-just-takes-a-tide-to-flood-atlantisc-city-these-days/

    Reply
  30. Kevin Jones

     /  May 7, 2016

    No rain in Ft. McMurray 10 day forecast. Just well above average temps. Nuuk, Greenland has 8 of 10 days with rain. 2.14 inches expected for Mon.-Tues. And well above average temps. from Weather Underground. Attended Jesus’s funeral yesterday in NYC. Heaven wept fittingly.
    https://theintercept.com/2016/05/06/daniel-berrigan-a-leader-of-peaceful-opposition-to-vietnam-war-inspired-a-generation-of-activists,

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  May 7, 2016

      To avoid confusion, Dan’s letter is to the OTHER Weather Underground! 🙂

      Reply
      • Cate

         /  May 7, 2016

        Think it might be time to revive the Weathermen for the 21st century. Come the revolution.🙂

        Reply
      • – Cate, I really don’t think that’s a constructive answer.
        An awakening of awareness of the general public is a better choice.
        The WM did their stuff. It didn’t help the unfolding of our current crisis. Not one bit.
        But something is needed to prompt our fellow citizens to the ‘reality’ of reality.
        – Peace

        Reply
      • Cate

         /  May 8, 2016

        dt, absolutely. I tend to think poetically. Can’t help it. English major.😉

        But perhaps your awakening of awareness is my revolution. I think we need a revolution between the ears, not so much in the streets, the way it was in 1968. The new Weathermen may well be already active among us—the climate scientists like Hansen and Masters, bloggers like Robert and Neven, all the other good solid info coming out from the universities, institutes, and agencies like NASA and NOAA.

        Reply
  31. Colorado Bob

     /  May 7, 2016

    Great Barrier Reef: Report warns next term of government will seal its fate, Climate Council says

    The fate of the Great Barrier Reef will be sealed by the next term of government, the Climate Council of Australia (CCA) has warned both the Labor Party and the Coalition.
    Key points:

    Window for change is almost closed, CCA spokesman Professor Will Steffen says
    He says if fossil fuel use continues at current rate, the reef will be bleached every two years by 2030s
    He is doubtful the reef will survive if a 1.5C target is not met

    The CCA said a new report revealed the influence of climate change on the reef and provided strong scientific evidence that future bleaching events were likely to become more frequent and severe

    Link

    Reply
  32. – Experts take on climate change at Stanford University conference

    PALO ALTO —

    With the field of presidential candidates narrowing, more than a dozen academics, policymakers, industry leaders and politicians from across the political spectrum arrived at Stanford on Friday for a conference, organized by the university’s Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, on setting the agenda for the next president to address the global and increasingly urgent challenge of climate change.
    http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_29860868/conference-experts-gathered-at-stanford-university-offer-up

    Reply
  33. NASA worldview – AQUA Modis with the fires and thermal anomalies data product turned on, as of yesterday:

    http://go.nasa.gov/24DLJJL

    Doesn’t look like a good time.

    The tar sands might not be very flammable, but what if a big oil storage tank explodes and soaks the ground with flammable oil or distillate? Probably not likely, I guess. They have enough trouble that is dead certain to worry about rather than stuff that is just speculation, I guess.

    If they set off a long term smoldering tar sands fire, that would be just another really good reason to not disturb the tar sands.

    Reply
    • So, this is an El Nino year. Suppose the climate is less disrupted next year, and for the next couple of years overall global temperatures decline, as they are likely to do following a major El Nino event.

      But then, several years from now, we have the next El Nino event, and it’s a reasonably a little bigger than this one. We get the most heat ever transferred into the atmosphere we’ve ever seen , in an El Nino year, superimposed on this long term upward trend.

      Fires break out in central Canada, in this thought experiment.

      How big would they be?

      Five times the size of these? Ten times the size of these of these? That would make central Canada into a kind of war zone.

      For that future hypothetical El Nino year, would the boreal forests worldwide become net carbon sources instead of net carbon sinks? What sort of jump in CO2 could we expect in the next major El Nino year?

      We might really learn to fear El Nino years.

      Reply
  34. Josh

     /  May 7, 2016

    Listening to this is pretty intense. This is a disaster for sure.

    Reply
    • Josh

       /  May 7, 2016

      Reality shock after looking at satellite photos and so forth – they don’t really convey what it has been like for people getting out of there.

      Reply
  35. Even the BBC says global warming is boosting the fires in Alberta in a good and very clear article. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36212145

    Reply
    • – A not so nice but crisp simple equation – AGW = Anthropogenic firestorm — you might say:

      Reply
      • Hi dt-

        The corporate news media likes to report on the immediate cause of wildfires fire – a spark, arson, a campfire, lightning.

        But they are very reluctant to this point to cover the ultimate probable cause of these fires – high fire danger conditions made worse and more likely by global warming.

        If conditions get bad enough, a single spark from a multitude of sources can spark a wildfire. Eventually, as fire danger gets greater and greater, the probabilities of an ignition event of some sort occurring and spreading become so great that trying to assign an immediate cause becomes a futile gesture, I think.

        Reply
      • Leland, what you say is definitely the case.
        You bet.

        Reply
      • Ps
        I post what the MSM are reporting — for the information that the public.
        I take it for granted that most here already know quite a bit about the subject.
        Sometime MSM gets it right too.

        Reply
  36. Kevin Jones

     /  May 7, 2016

    news.vice.com says ‘the beast’ has produced its’ own lightening thus proceeding in kilometer long jumps….towards the Saskatchewan border 90 km east of Fort Mac……

    Reply
  37. Using NASA EOSDIS Worldview with the fires and thermal anomalies data products turned on, or the earth.nullschool carbon monoxide data product, there are other smaller fires burning up there as well. Carbon dioxide concentrations are above 500 ppm around Ft. McMurray, and some carbon monoxide concentrations are above 5000 ppb in the area surrounding Ft. McMurray – not as high as some of the big fires last season especially in Siberia, but still not healthy.

    There are wildfires near Fort Saint John near the B.C. / Alberta border, and another near Siphon Creek close to there. People are being evacuated near Fort Saint John. Siphon Creek was up to 17,000 hectares in area yesterday.

    There is also a major wildfire burning on the Winnipeg Ontario border near Beresford lake – 10,000 acres yesterday.

    http://go.nasa.gov/1q6iWxW

    It’s only early May. How bad will it get, this year?

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  May 7, 2016

      I’ll tell you on the Thirty-First of December. If we’re still here.

      Reply
      • The global warming Denier think tanks tell us warmth is good, though, in one of their hundreds of lying talking points, as you know.

        Maybe warmth isn’t as good as they are making it out to be. People are going to have to move out of the boreal forests into barren towns and cities protected by really big fire breaks, in the coming decades, I think, at least during fire season…which is pretty much all year long these days, give or take. And in a decade or two, the boreal forests will likely be net carbon sources, not net carbon sinks – and we’ll see what that neat statement translates into on the ground – in firestorms. Will fast moving firestorms generating their own lightning become common?

        Likely after this El Nino year, things will calm down a little, so we’ll hear more B.S. coming from the paid professional Deniers about a pause or stop in global warming. I hope this time that most people aren’t dumb enough to fall for it.

        Reply
      • Kevin Jones

         /  May 8, 2016

        Leland Palmer. If you haven’t read the Wikipedia entry for Bjorn Global Warming is Good Lomborg, I suggest it. What a lonely, sad, broken excuse of a man.

        Reply
      • Mulga Mumblebrain

         /  May 8, 2016

        Lomborg will be an absolute priority when the trials for crimes against humanity begin. Up there with Murdoch, Matt Ridley, and many, many, others.

        Reply
    • – Air (atmospheric):

      – Everyone should consider that the available supply of ‘fresh’ O2 rich air will be at a premium — for terrestrial ‘breathers’.

      Which is a primary reason that I have devoted so much of my effort to stopping air pollution.
      For we can have pools of fresh water, and piles of nutritious food, sitting in front of our thirsty mouths and our hungry bellies but if we don’t have an ample supply of unpolluted and breathable oxygen and air feeding the brains that tells our bodies to work the needed muscles to eat and drink what is before us– we will sit their helpless.

      OUT

      Reply
    • Jim Bowron

       /  May 8, 2016

      Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba, the province, so this should read “on the Manitoba-Ontario border.”

      Reply
  38. – AK

    Reply
    • 23:00 UTC
      PDX my location 85 F going on 86 | norm is 66 | low is 6 F above norm.

      – NWS Seattle ‏@NWSSeattle 10h10 hours ago

      #Seattle forecast high today: 79F. Warmer than Las Vegas, Palm Springs, or Phoenix. #wawx
      Currently 78 F w/ nearby at 81.]

      Reply
  39. – Weather energy | From a Boulder, CO Tweeter. Weld and Morgan are N & NE of Boulder.
    Tom Yulsman ‏@yulsman 1h1 hour ago

    RT @theWXwoman: CONFIRMED MULTI-VORTEX TORNADO in Weld/Morgan County. Look at that hook! Tornado Warning til 3:45pm.

    Reply
  40. An exceptionally good short documentary on the unacceptable risks fire fighters are already confronted with in our changing climate.

    Really, watch this!

    Reply
    • Griffin

       /  May 8, 2016

      Todaysguestis, thank you. That was incredibly powerful. That was one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen regarding climate change. Just wow.

      Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  May 8, 2016

      Thank you for that, Today’sguest. That was really well done, and very powerful. I will certainly be sharing that one.

      Reply
    • Thank you Griffin. If I were Queen Of The Universe I would interrupt every program, every website on every screen to show this. And there it is: “We’re going to have to change the way we live […]”

      Reply
  41. Colorado Bob

     /  May 7, 2016

    In a disaster, you find heroes in the most unlikely places.

    As 80,000 people abandoned Fort McMurray earlier this week, George Muirhead stayed behind to man his post.

    With a raging wildfire already burning homes and the city under a mandatory evacuation order, Muirhead packed his vehicle.

    Then he made his way to the water treatment plant near the Athabasca River.

    Many of the plant’s employees had already fled with their families, leaving a skeleton crew of nine men to continue their vital work, providing the water firefighters so desperately needed as they fought to save the city.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/fort-mcmurray-water-1.3570329

    Reply
  42. – Firefighters are using drones to fight the raging wildfire in Alberta

    LAC LA BICHE, Alberta (Reuters) – A raging Canadian wildfire grew explosively on Saturday as hot, dry winds pushed the blaze across the energy heartland of Alberta and smoke forced the shutdown of a major oil sands project.

    While the fire isn’t responding to conventional fire-suppression tactics, firefighters and local authorities have turned to a high-tech solution to fight the fire: drones.
    http://www.businessinsider.com/alberta-irefighters-are-using-drones-2016-5

    Reply
    • – Leland

      Elevated Robotic Services — which usually deploys drones for mining companies — has been contracted by the Alberta government to help firefighters pinpoint the cause of the blaze, according to Reuters.

      “It’s like Google Maps but 100 times better,” Mat Matthews, the company’s operations and safety manager, told Reuters.

      The drones will take images from the air, and hopefully pinpoint the blaze’s ground-zero location to within a 30-foot radius. From there, investigators can search on foot for potential causes, and use that information to fight the fire.
      – businessinsider.com/alberta-irefighters-are-using-drones

      Reply
  43. – From atmospheric rivers to this.
    Double Yikes.

    Reply
    • Tim PeakeVerified account
      @astro_timpeake
      – A Helmet Tip to:

      British ESA astronaut & test pilot. Living & working onboard the International Space Station for 6 months. Tweets are my own.

      Reply
      • 0501 – Mt St. Helens and its ‘missing’ side since 1980 eruption
        [Not far from PDX – was 76 F at top area a few days ago.]

        Reply
  44. Colorado Bob

     /  May 7, 2016
    Reply
  45. Jay M

     /  May 8, 2016

    Nice gyre on Atlantic as low pressure visits Spain:

    Reply
  46. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    Alberta’s `Vicious’ Wildfires Spread to Suncor Oil-Sands Site

    May 7, 2016 — 7:13 PM CDT

    Syncrude, Husky join list of companies shutting production
    Blaze threatens Cnooc Ltd.’s Long Lake production facility

    Wildfires raging through Alberta have spread to the main oil-sands facilities north of Fort McMurray, knocking out an estimated 1 million barrels of production from Canada’s energy hub. Fire officials say the out-of-control inferno may keep burning for months without significant rainfall.

    The blaze, forecast to expand to more than 2,500 square kilometers (965 square miles) in the next few days, made an “unexpected” move to the north Saturday, rapidly encroaching bitumen mining operations run by Suncor Energy Inc. and Syncrude Canada Ltd. The fires may soon cover an area the size of Luxembourg.

    Link

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 8, 2016

      The inferno around Fort McMurray may become the costliest catastrophe in the country’s history with insurance losses potentially reaching C$9.4 billion ($7.3 billion). Bank of Montreal cut its second-quarter gross domestic product growth estimate to zero from 1.5 percent, citing “severe disruptions to oil production” due to the fires. BMO said the estimate was a placeholder, dependent on receiving more information on the scope of the disaster.

      The economic cost of the disaster is “unquantifiable,” Goodale said, but it will be “far-reaching and deep.”

      Bloomberg

      Reply
  47. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    Fort McMurray wildfire was just two hectares before morphing into vicious inferno

    7:40 p.m. Saturday — “We need heavy rain — showers won’t be enough.”

    When the inferno consuming northern Alberta was first discovered at 4 p.m. last Sunday, it was a meagre two-hectare blaze. Now it’s so vicious, crews will be fighting it for months to come.

    Fire crews stumbled across the fire while on motorized patrol, and immediately tried to get it under control.

    They brought in air tankers — four of them — but within two hours, it had grown to 60 hectares, or 0.6 square kilometres.

    On Saturday morning, it had ballooned to 1,560 square kilometres. By the end of day, it was expected to mushroom to 2,500 square kilometres and reach the Saskatchewan border.

    During a Saturday briefing, Chad Morrison with Alberta wildfire said the rate of growth just goes to show how hot and dry the conditions are right now.

    Link

    Reply
  48. Greg

     /  May 8, 2016

    Evacuees being airlifted out with their four legged loved ones:

    Reply
    • Greg

       /  May 8, 2016

      Not everyone so lucky:

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 8, 2016

        Just to be clear, this image is nearly 10 years old. I forget exactly when it was shot. It is not part of the current fire storm.

        It is probably the most powerful image of what a wild land fire can look like.

        Greg thanks for posting it.

        Reply
      • Yeah, I remember it well.

        Reply
      • mlparrish

         /  May 8, 2016

        It’s the: 2000 Bitterroot River, MT.2.GIF.

        Reply
      • mlparrish

         /  May 8, 2016

        On 6 August 2000, as several fires converged in the Bitterroot National Forest near the town of Sula in western Montana, John McColgan, a fire behavior analyst in the employ of the USDA Forest Service, snapped the spectacular photograph shown above with a digital camera. As McColgan described the experience to a writer for the Western Montana newspaper The Missoulian:

        “That’s a once-in-a-lifetime look there. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and it ranks in the top three days of fire behavior I’ve seen.”

        Reply
      • Ryan in New England

         /  May 8, 2016

        An extremely powerful image. Makes my heart break for the innocent wildlife devastated by these events.

        Reply
    • Greg

       /  May 8, 2016

      Thanks for the proper attribution. It was just a reminder that all the critters who aren’t pets need the same compassion.

      Reply
  49. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    Sea-level rise claims five islands in Solomons: study

    Five islands have disappeared in the Pacific’s Solomon Islands due to rising sea levels and coastal erosion, according to an Australian study that could provide valuable insights for future research.

    A further six reef islands have been severely eroded in the remote area of the Solomons, the study said, with one experiencing some 10 houses being swept into the sea between 2011 and 2014.

    Link

    Reply
  50. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    Scientists track Greenland’s ice melt with seismic waves

    Researchers from MIT, Princeton University, and elsewhere have developed a new technique to monitor the seasonal changes in Greenland’s ice sheet, using seismic vibrations generated by crashing ocean waves. The results, which will be published in the journal Science Advances, may help scientists pinpoint regions of the ice sheet that are most vulnerable to melting. The technique may also set better constraints on how the world’s ice sheets contribute to global sea-level changes. ……………. “They happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they generate a very small signal, which we generally don’t feel,” Prieto says. “But very precise seismic sensors can feel these waves everywhere in the world. Even in the middle of continents, you can see these ocean effects.”

    Read more at: Link

    Reply
  51. Andy in SD

     /  May 8, 2016

    One of the unfortunate casualties I see in this disaster is human compassion from outside of the impacted zone.
    ==================================================================

    I’ve seen a tremendous volume of posts, some from Canadians, but mostly Americans along the lines of “good, they deserve it”, “screw Canada and it’s tar sands”, “if they lived there, then they’re guilty of oil sands money” etc….

    By that logic, the recent storms in Houston should be approached the same way, as well as the hurricane that hit Mobile, Ala as well as New Orleans when Katrina hit ( all oil towns). Actually, by that logic any disaster should be approached with derision and callousness because this guilt by association seems to be a blanket statement covering regions and nations. By that logic, anyone who works in a Gas Station in the US who is robbed, murdered, burned out of their apartment deserves the same vitriol..

    I would like to know why a 5 year old kid in preschool deserved this? Or how about an elderly person whose lived there their whole life (before the oil sands projects went up)? How about the wife and kids? How about the guy just trying to feed his family? What about the bus driver or the pizza cook or the cleaning lady at the motel 8? Is she a criminal too?

    I agree 100% the oil sands should be stopped, and are a scourge on our planet. But the “little people” suffer and are blamed for simply trying to live. The Ones who have instrumented this scar on the planet are safe and sound, in Edmonton, Toronto, New York, London, Beijing etc….

    The pox for the tar sands goes much further, and higher than some guy working at a mini mart.

    I think this also has caused the Inter-agency fire system that has operated since 1982 between the US and Canada to not be honored with this event. Normally in a bad situation, the countries share resources (air, ground crews, assets) such as last year in Washington / Oregon (Canada sent down aircraft, ground crews etc..).

    This time? Nope, sorry, nothing for you today. Not a peep from Obama or anyone in Government, lest they be soiled as a form of collusion by simply saying “bummer, that sucks. Hope they’re ok”.

    When I see posts stating these people should not be there and go find another job skill, I think it is so easy to pontificate from afar. And those that do so, would react how if they were told to change professions, skills, locations?

    What have we become?

    Reply
    • Andy in SD

       /  May 8, 2016

      At least this biker didn’t say “screw you, you work in retail in Fort McMurray so you deserve what happens to you.”
      ========================================

      Knight on a motorcycle comes to the aid of Fort McMurray woman in distress

      Stranded and panicking at a bus stop in the midst of an evacuation, Marley Walker was grateful for the offer of a two-wheeled escape.

      Marley Walker was working at a Gregoire Estates retail store Monday afternoon while keeping watch on the distant growing flames through the back door.

      Walker said Mike didn’t want to speak with the Star; he’s not seeking any recognition for his gallant actions and told her he was “just doing the human thing.”

      https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/05/07/knight-on-a-motorcycle-comes-to-the-aid-of-fort-mcmurray-woman-in-distress.html

      Reply
      • Colorado Bob

         /  May 8, 2016

        Well said Andy. One does attack victims when the authors of the disaster are far far way.

        Reply
    • One of the things that concerns me most about the not-too-distant future, is that as climate change increases the pressures on our society, humankind’s traditional inhumanity to humankind will come into play…

      (the expression used to be “man’s inhumanity to man” – Robert Burns – that is not politically correct any more – but sounds much better!)

      Reply
      • Andy in SD

         /  May 8, 2016

        Agreed Dave, And we are seeing it in action now. Donor fatigue and disaster burnout on our 24/7 news feeds.

        Reply
    • Griffin

       /  May 8, 2016

      Very well said Andy. Very well said.
      Your words make me think that we have become a society that would place the blame for our drinking upon the workers at the distillery.

      Reply
    • The workers and the people who live in Fort McMurray are all victims of decades of bad choices by political leaders and of oil industry based media deception. They are in need, not only of our heartfelt assistance, but of kind voices to help draw them out of what is a social and environmental death-trap. We should point out that if the government of Canada were wise, not only would it shut down the tar sands, but it would work to build new sustainable industries and provide jobs training to support the workers and the families of Fort McMurray.

      We should also be very clear that attacks on the victims of this tragedy do not help our cause of building a sustainable world for everyone. Such talk is deeply divisive and it paints our cause with a black mark. I would also add that there is risk that agitators have sewn this kind of hatred within our ranks in an attempt to discredit us. And I would say — keep your hearts and minds pure, do not let them be successful.

      People concerned about climate change fighting with workers is exactly the kind of social division that the intentionally deceptive fossil fuel industry leaders and investors would benefit from. So we should be very clear as to who is to blame for the climate crisis. It’s not the workers and people living in Fort McMurray — it’s Suncor, Shell, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, it’s politicians aligned to these harmful industries (most Conservatives in the western world [and the liberate the market at the expense of everyone else politicians in Australia]), it’s wealthy investors like Murdoch, Koch, and (sometimes) Buffet, it’s think tanks like AEI and ALEC, it’s scientific falsifiers like Monkton and Singer, and it’s media figures like Breitbart, Watts (fake name), and Goddard (fake name).

      And yes, there are many people who work for these industries or support the political stances of the false leaders I mentioned above in Fort McMurray. But that just makes them the most tragic victims of all. For the people they believed in have betrayed them to the point that their lives, their livelihoods, and their families are now basically sacrificial fodder to the fires of climate change. All the more reason why we should fight as hard as we can to help them. To give them a way out.

      In this, we are all victims in the same way. For if we drive a car that burns fossil fuel (or use any other form of fossil fuel based transport), use electricity that burns coal or oil, or gas, eat food that uses fossil fuels to fertile, harvest and produce, or purchase any other product that results in fossil fuel based carbon emissions in its production and transport, then we have also tacitly supported, in ways large and small, this very harmful industrial, monetary, and political power. In this way, so many of us have been capitives to contributing to this harm as well. And like the people of Fort McMurray, we all need a rapid route out of a growing catastrophe.

      Reply
    • Ryan in New England

       /  May 9, 2016

      That was very well said, Andy. Thank you for that. The residents of Ft McMurray are victims in every sense, and as you pointed out, if there is a guilty party to assign blame it they lie far away from the affected area in a cozy high-rise somewhere.

      Reply
  52. wili

     /  May 8, 2016

    What’s to stop this thing burning all the way across to Hudson Bay?

    Reply
    • wili

       /  May 8, 2016

      Are people noting the updates: “…officials estimate that the blaze could expand to an enormous 300,000 hectares (750,000 acres or nearly 1,200 square miles or an area roughly the size of Rhode Island) on Saturday”

      So it’s doubling in one day to over a thousand square miles.

      One wonders how many more doublings we’re in for.

      The power of the exponential function is one son-of-a-bitch. Ten days of it would take us to a million square miles.

      And this thing is likely to keep burning…possibly all summer and well into the fall, unless there’s a long drenching rain throughout the area. (But then that is likely to come with lightening strikes, too…)

      Reply
  53. – Via climatehawk1 – something I’ve been reporting on of late.
    The last paragraph re North Platte is something to watch for, too.

    Snowpack Melting at Record Speed

    Far below average snowpack remains in much of the West
    Peak streamflow early in Pacific Northwest

    WASHINGTON, May 6, 2016 – During April, Western snowpack dropped at record speed, according to data from the fifth and final 2016 forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

    “In the Pacific Northwest, low precipitation and high temperatures led to a dramatic reduction in snowpack,” said NRCS Hydrologist Cara McCarthy. “In this area, peak streamflow is arriving weeks earlier than normal this year.”

    Not all areas have low snowpack. “Parts of Wyoming and Colorado have seen much above-average precipitation in recent weeks, causing concerns about potential flooding in the North Platte,” said McCarthy.

    http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/newsroom/releases/?cid=NRCSEPRD1001006

    Reply
  54. Reply
  55. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    Scientists track Greenland’s ice melt with seismic waves

    A bit of history about this , my little avatar there on the left is from when I was on a seismic crew. (Weather underground)

    Geophone tech took off in the 1960’s as a result of the Vietnam War. We planted them on the Ho Chi Minh trail. The DOD poured tons of money into it. By the time I came in contact with them 15 years later, here’s how good they were :

    If you were on an AMACO contract, you had to bury every “jug” in the ground. Because if you just stomped in the ground , every geophone on the line could record jets flying at 35,000 ft. over Utah.

    The whole idea was to have as clean of a “shot” as possible. These things could record sheep walking around a thousand yards from the line. That was nearly 40 years ago.

    I believe every word of this story –
    Scientists track Greenland’s ice melt with seismic waves

    The “shot” , that was my job . Drill a 30 foot , 4 inch hole , load 20 lbs. of 60% of high velocity nitropel, a big fat primer with a cap, fill the hole back up with gravel. Tie the cap wires to a 3 foot grade stake , write the info on it, and tie very colorful plastic flagging to the top.

    When these things when off, the ground around that hole jumped nearly 5 feet in the air.

    fill the hole back up with gravel.

    This most expensive gravel in the history of the world. Helicopters flew this this stuff to over 10,000 feet.
    In May of 1979 I loaded a hole on a Texaco contract , on the West end of the Unita Mountains . It was the highest shot hole ever drilled. 10,600 feet .
    Everyone in Denver broke out the drinks.

    This is why I believe that we can listen to waves crashing into Greenland.

    Reply
    • redskylite

       /  May 8, 2016

      That’s a great bit of interesting and rich history, empirical evidence is the best and most difficult to deny.

      Reply
    • You’ve got quite the history with a close relationship with real time physical forces. Glad you share them and connect them to current events.
      Acoustics and acoustic energies is always important to me whether I’m making music or judging wind and and moisture content of the air. My music starts with a physical force like plucking a guitar string or thumping a box or drum.

      I don’t know about ice (frozen H2o & Greenland) but water is a great conductor of sound.
      A vacuum is another matter. And something like window glass will sympathetically vibrate sound energy as well.

      Re USA massive gadget overkill in far away SE Asia & VN — never-mind, that’s another story.

      Reply
  56. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    Street Fighting Man – Rolling Stones

    Reply
  57. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    A word about politics.

    When the “birther” movement sprang up, not one, not one, right winger spoke up. Now it has eaten the their party.

    They believed this cancer was to their advantage. Well the cancer has eaten them.

    Reply
  58. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    When the Germans put Lenin back on the train to Russia , they had no idea, what was coming.
    They could have just shot him at the train station.

    Reply
  59. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    That is lesson of history , no one ever controls Crazy Town.

    Reply
  60. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    Profiles in courage , not one man spoke up when Trump attacked Obama over his birth.

    Now they they are all a panic.

    You lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  May 8, 2016

      This country has been packed with forces of darkness since it’s founding.
      We once had a party called the ………. “No Nothings”.

      But we always stubbled forward. And we near turned back.

      Reply
      • Ryan in New England

         /  May 9, 2016

        I’d say we have a party of know-nothings. The line about lying down with dogs is great🙂

        Reply
  61. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    Never turned back.

    Reply
  62. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    DaveW / May 8, 2016

    One of the things that concerns me most about the not-too-distant future, is that as climate change increases the pressures on our society, humankind’s traditional inhumanity to humankind will come into play…

    It’s going to run over us like a cross town bus.

    Reply
  63. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue

    Reply
  64. Colorado Bob

     /  May 8, 2016

    One more tune that provides we are not lost –

    BOLERO-RAVEL

    Reply
  65. redskylite

     /  May 8, 2016

    I keep scanning the international news on the Alberta wildfires, the latest suggests it is way out of control and likely to spread outside Alberta. I’m not particularly environmentally aware, unfortunately, but now realize that the boreal forests of the North (part of the Taiga) are the biggest lung system on Earth, that is the biggest carbon sink, followed by the Amazon. Despite forlorn hopes I cannot ever see mankind designing technology to match the scale of nature.

    We are a crossroad in our evolution – I see the grim disasters, but then there are stories on carbon free progress. Small but I try and remember Aristotle “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” , keeps me sane, just.

    Go Philadelphia you rock . .

    http://cleantechnica.com/2016/05/07/philadelphia-makes-largest-transit-investment-zero-emission-buses-us-northeast/

    Reply
    • redskylite

       /  May 8, 2016

      Drat . . Correction of a finger/brain coordination problem . . . Should read we are at a crossroad in our evolution.

      Reply
  66. redskylite

     /  May 8, 2016

    I spent a significant part of my life in the middle east, I left the U.K in the 80’s and grew up in the empty quarter desert regions. I particularly love Oman, it is a mature and tranquil place, my favourite place on this planet, the people are great too. Sad to read this . . .

    Oman’s plants are struggling to keep up with changes around them as the climate change continues to warm planet Earth.

    http://timesofoman.com/article/83215/Oman/Environment/Oman-to-lose-hundreds-of-plants-due-to-climate-change

    Reply
    • Redskylite: I am seeing this in the midwest/upper midwest (native flora/fauna struggling, if not disappearing). It is truly torturous to witness. Along with the massive carnage of nonhuman life underway in Canada with this latest human induced climate catastrophe.

      Where are the spring migrant birds this year? Is this the year there will be a crash similar to the monarchs?
      In springs past, there would be countless indigo buntings, hummingbirds, grosbeaks, orioles and more filling the woodland/savannas and prairies at this time in May.

      I have actively gone out to birdwatch and to date have seen 1 hummingbird, one oriole . . . . birdsong is limited to the “suburban birds”, (cardinals, robins etc) and a few warblers.
      Anyone else notice this?

      Reply
      • – Oh yes.
        Also, species diversity has dwindled in profound and unsettling ways.

        Reply
  67. As a human being the Fort McMurray fire horrifies me. The biologist in me is fascinated.

    Was it like this at the end of the last glacial period 10,000 years ago when the boreal forest retreated northwards to be replaced by grassland? Are we seeing it happening again?

    Reply
    • redskylite

       /  May 8, 2016

      My reply is a resounding no it was not like this, not at all. We are not seeing it again. We, mankind have sped the process up to unimaginable speeds, nature could not replicate our behaviour, nature works at much gentler rates. We are in for a heap of trouble. Nature is much kinder usually.

      Reply
    • Andy in SD

       /  May 8, 2016

      I think we are seeing a fast forwarded version, with a different impact on the ecology / biology.

      I just don’t see nature being given enough time to adapt. If you look at the success / failure cycles required for a species to adapt we are not giving enough time for this to occur at a reasonable pace. There will be species that can adapt, but I suspect many will be unable to.

      Reply
    • Given the current pace of warming, we’d have to say no. There may have been an increase in fires. But. Not on this scale.

      Reply
  68. wili

     /  May 8, 2016

    I hadn’t heard of this before:

    https://news.vice.com/article/the-fort-mcmurray-fire-created-lightning-that-set-off-new-blazes

    “This fire is jumping kilometers at a time,” said Chad Morrison, the manager of the province’s wildfire prevention service.

    “We’re seeing the fire spread where it’s creating its own lightning fires out of this fire.

    This is an extreme, rare fire event.”

    Reply
    • wili

       /  May 8, 2016

      The Ft. McMurray is clearly the biggest fire right now (and looking to get a lot bigger fast)! But there are a hell of a lot of other fires in Canada and the far upper MidWest of the US: http://cwfis.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/maps/fm3?type=tri

      Reply
    • Griffin

       /  May 8, 2016

      Brings to mind the words of the firefighter in the video linked by todaysguestis above. He knows that his daughter will see things on the fire line that he never has…

      Reply
  69. Ryan in New England

     /  May 8, 2016

    Listening to the stories of what the people of Ft McMurray have had to do to escape this fire, and how close so many came to being swallowed by flames while evacuating provides a very clear example of how quickly our highly sophisticated, civilized society can deteriorate into a very real struggle just to stay alive. We all become so complacent and unconcerned while living inside this complex machine known as “the economy”, which provides the illusion of total mastery and control over the environment. This leads to the commonly held belief that we no longer have to be afraid of, or concerned about nature. Which, I think, is part of the reason why people don’t think climate change is anything to fear. People think things will warm and weather gets a little worse, no big deal.

    Well, it IS a big deal. All it takes is a powerful storm (which will continue to get stronger), or a devastating drought (which are only getting worse) or, as we see, a wildfire (which are only getting stronger and more frequent) and our comfy, secure lifestyle is replaced by desperation, tension and suffering…and eventually violence and deterioration of civil society. This is the world we are creating for ourselves and our progeny. This fire is just the latest wake-up call that society will hit the snooze button on.

    Reply
    • June

       /  May 8, 2016

      very well said, Ryan. It brings to mind the comment by Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, that a ban on fracking is misguided, that the keep it in the ground campaign is naive, that renewables will not be enough and we will need fossil fuels for a long time. As if there is no rush. As if we are invulnerable to societal collapse.

      Reply
      • June

         /  May 8, 2016

        Sally Jewell: “It’s going to take a very long time before we can wean ourselves from fossil fuels, so I think that to keep it in the ground is naïve, to say we could shift to 100 percent renewables is naïve. We really have to have a blend over time, and a transition over time, that recognizes the real complexity of what we’re dealing with.”

        http://fusion.net/story/299653/interior-secretary-jewell-fossil-fuels-green-energy-leave-ground/

        Reply
      • Griffin

         /  May 8, 2016

        I know that Sally Jewell is but a politician who is saying what she needs to say. I hope that she finds peace for her soul after she is done in her job. For those who had the power and yet did not do all they could to help humanity will perhaps suffer a greater torment bearing witness to the suffering to come. I would. I feel guilty enough as an everyday schmuck.
        I wish I could tell her (and all others with her point of view) this.
        It was pretty naive in the summer of 1940 to think that England could stand alone and hold off the Germans. A great many thought it to be impossible and were prepared to accept the “inevitable” loss of all they had known and loved in their country.
        Thankfully, the will to fight burned within enough folks to ensure that the pathway to a better future emerged from the darkness.

        Reply
      • Syd Bridges

         /  May 8, 2016

        Had Jewell’s remark been made 40 years ago, or even when Exxon’s scientists first warned the company of what was to come, and had it then been followed by resolute action, it would have probably been true. We could have had lower CO2 levels, with emissions rapidly tailing off. But now we are in a very dire situation and more FF can only make it worse. It’s like supplying a heroin addict who has promised that he will kick the habit as soon as he feels strong enough to do so.

        Reply
      • What we should realize is that fossil fuel burning is not a question of need it’s a question of an unhealthy use of resources. The fact that we have renewable replacements now, the fact that we are quite capable of not burning the stuff now makes Jewell’s statements here nothing more than a lame excuse for keeping a harmful industry going. An excuse that, if we take it to heart, will result in bitter, bitter harm to come.

        Reply
    • Well said, Ryan. So very well said.

      Reply
  70. Andy in SD

     /  May 8, 2016

    We’re roughly 1 million sq km below the previous low (12.9m sq km, 2012) Arctic ice extent for this time of year at ~ 11.9 million sq km.

    https://ads.nipr.ac.jp/vishop/vishop-extent.html?N

    Reply
  71. rustj2015

     /  May 8, 2016

    Relevant to “man’s inhumanity”:

    HBO Documentary Films
    New documentary gives us an idea of what will survive climate change

    Tim deChristopher:

    “What does have an effect is mobilizing in the streets, disrupting the system in some way, through non-violent political action,” he told Grist. “If we had 5 percent of the U.S. population in the streets, you’d see real action.”

    So what are the things that climate change can’t destroy? Well, spoiler alert: besides the good attitudes of an army of activists, not a whole lot. But the film does give audiences a crash course in climate organizing to adapt to those changes. In one of the film’s most moving storylines, a group of Pacific Islanders stage a demonstration in traditional canoes at the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle, Australia. With police boats zooming past them to kick up waves, one of the canoes capsizes, forcing its weeping rowers back to shore. But the canoe, quickly repaired, returns to blockade the 40-foot-tall coal tanker. It’s an apt metaphor for the struggle of a tiny group of people who are up against a global catastrophe.

    “We need to win from within,” says Mika Maiava, one of the rowers leading the charge. “So even if the people look at you like you’re losing, you’re not losing, because you already won in your heart. That energy you give out will change someone else’s heart.”

    New documentary gives us an idea of what will survive climate change

    At Grist

    Reply
    • June

       /  May 8, 2016

      I love the last sentence of the rower’s statement…that energy you give out will change someone else’s heart.

      Reply
  72. Hazy, smoke covered sky in much of the U.S.: http://wildfiretoday.com/2016/05/08/wildfire-smoke-from-canada-affects-much-of-the-united-states-may-8-2016/

    If one thinks of earth as Mother, life giver, life supporter (I do) this is a very sad Mother’s day. We are all in this together—–the tragedy in Canada is our tragedy.

    Reply
  73. Winds | NA

    Nullschool likely has something too but check out the winds (emphasis on the plural) near the fire area here on windyty.
    https://www.windyty.com/?53.694,-105.861,4

    Reply
  74. Joint Cyclone Center ‏@JointCyclone 4h4 hours ago

    NW Europe may currently experiencing a tropical #heatwave, with temperatures up to 30 degree Celsius plus early June

    Reply
  75. Fort McMurray Fire 2016 – Stone Creek Aftermath

    Reply
    • N.W.T.’s top doctor warns of smoke blowing north from Fort McMurray
      Advisory prompted by air quality in territory’s Thebacha region

      -cbc.ca/news/canada/north/nwt-health-officer-smoke-effects-fort-mcmurray

      Reply
  76. islandraider

     /  May 8, 2016

    April 2016 CO2: 407.57 ppm
    April 2015 CO2: 403.45 ppm
    Year-on-year increase: 4.12 ppm

    Wow. I know it has been discussed before, but one (or more) of 4 (or more?) things appears to be occurring:
    * Countries are fibbing about emissions and CO2 emissions from industrial/agricultural sources has not really stabilized.
    * Feedbacks are kicking in such that rapidly increasing temperatures are driving increasing CO2 releases from “natural” sources.
    * CO2 sinks are failing (forest uptake declining, warmer oceans absorbing less CO2, etc.).
    * The El Nino impact on CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere is greater than expected.

    All that said… over 4 ppm increase is a huge jump! We appear to be going faster in the wrong direction. Peak should come in May… provided the northern hemisphere firestorm doesn’t nudge things a bit. Not good. Not good at all.

    Link: https://www.co2.earth/daily-co2

    Reply
    • Primarily El Niño impact. But the various carbon sources are starting to misbehave as well. Global carbon emissions from fossil fuels show every indication of leveling off during 2014 and 2015. But we should be very clear that the current rate of carbon emission due to fossil fuel burning is catastrophic. And continuing to burn at such high levels is a very bad outcome. The most desirable and helpful outcome from the point of view of atmospheric carbon accumulation is a rapid reduction in global fossil fuel burning to zero. That’s really our best path for mitigation at this time. So, yeah, leveling off is positive, but it’s not enough to stop spiking atmospheric CO2 during an El Niño year and it’s not enough to halt a fractionally small when compared to the human emission, but still significant and concerning global carbon store response at this time.

      Reply
  77. wili

     /  May 8, 2016

    Are there any new maps out yet to show how far it has spread so far today?

    Reply
  78. wili

     /  May 8, 2016

    In a live news conference right now, they’re saying that control of the fire has gone better than expected over the last 24 hours.

    Reply
      • wili

         /  May 8, 2016

        http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/fort-mcmurray-wildfire-expected-to-stretch-more-than-2000-square-kilometres-sunday

        “The wildfire hasn’t grown as much as feared”

        ““We expect to hold the fire,” said Chad Morison with Alberta Wildfire, estimating the size at just 161,000 hectares at noon Sunday, much smaller than previously expected. On Saturday, fire officials said they expected it to hit 200,000 hectares by midnight.

        The fire did not reach the closest Suncor and Syncrude oilsands sites, and the Nexen Long Lake facility appears to have sustained minimal damage. Inside the city, fire crews are still putting out hotspots. They were able to protect most of the city’s critical infrastructure, including its hospital and water treatment facility.”

        Reply
      • wili

         /  May 8, 2016

        161,000 hectares is about 620 sq miles.

        Reply
        • Also note that the high for today in Fort McMurray was around 65 F — about 5-8 F above normal for this time of year. Average temperatures this week may help a bit. But we get back into the 60s and 70s — or above average to well above average readings again by later this week.

          I’ll post new maps and an update when I get them organized.

    • Good news.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  May 8, 2016

        Indeed. Much better than the alternative. I still haven’t heard what percentage of the fire is under control.

        It sounds like the fire fighters did excellent work here. We will be requiring ever more from these kinds of heroes, going forward, unfortunately.

        Reply
      • “… amount of rainfall is in the range of 1 mm for today and possibly 1 mm for tonight.”
        Weather like that likely will have a fairly low cloud ceiling that will keep ash and smoke low to the ground.

        Reply
  79. – FY: Using a camera and flash to capture night time aerosol Pm. These white specks are what were close enough for the flash to illuminate — and likely Pm 10 and larger.
    Local conditions: ‘clear’ skies with ‘good’ air quality at Santa Barbara, CA, 2012.
    Photo: DT Lange

    Reply
    • Night photo of dust and traffic dust air pollution made stark by street lights in Santa Barbara. All during a night of ‘good air quality’ and ‘clear’ skies, 2012.
      Photo: DT Lange

      Reply
  80. NWS Wakefield Verified account ‏@NWSWakefieldVA 1h1 hour ago

    Note the haze this afternoon? It’s smoke from the Ft. McMurray, Alberta Wildfire!!

    Reply
    • Reply
      • CBC News Alerts Verified account ‏@CBCAlerts 5h5 hours ago

        #Saskatchewan officials say no communities in province threatened by #FortMacFire. Threat ‘not imminent.’ Biggest concern is smoke.

        Reply
        • The fire failed to reach Saskatchewan this weekend, thank goodness. Let’s hope things don’t again worsen later this week. Cooler temps in the normal range for this region should help a little. Unfortunately, the 1 mm of rainfall we saw today is the only rain the region is expected to get over the next two weeks. Who knows, maybe the forecast will change. Let’s hope so.

  81. – It’s only May.

    NA USA Map – National Interagency Fire Center
    https://maps.nwcg.gov/sa/#/%3F/45.1937/-113.9235/4

    Reply
    • Yeah, they’re lighting up all over North America. There’s a big Arctic warming event coming up this week. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be seeing stronger fire activity pushing into the Northwest Territory and Alaska at this time.

      Reply
  82. Reply
  83. Ryan in New England

     /  May 9, 2016

    Ricky Rood’s latest blog post concerns the idea that we won’t prevent any amount of global warming, and really need to focus on adapting to a 4C warmer world.

    Not sure how I feel about this. Part of me (a big part) wants to fight like hell to do whatever we can to lower emissions ASAP, and not be resigned to the idea that it’s too late. Another part of me, the one immersed in climate news on a daily basis, feels like it already is too late and there isn’t much we can do anymore to prevent devastation.

    https://www.wunderground.com/blog/RickyRood/we-have-no-choice-but-to-carry-on

    Reply
    • Nancy

       /  May 9, 2016

      It’s hard to think the human race will decide to do the right thing and leave the fossil fuels in the ground. The movie “The Age of Stupid” is more like it. For me, living on a large property where we can be self-sufficient and provide for our family, is the best we can do. But not everyone has that option.

      I think the Alberta fires might be a turning point. Trying to relocate and re-employ 90,000 people is a monumental task. Especially when your country relies on the ‘product’ from the now-devasted area to provide jobs, taxes, etc.

      As a note, I’ve been a climate activist for a long time, and have attended many rallies, met with stupid politicians and written letters for years. I talk to people all the time about climate change but mostly I am dismissed as crazy by 98% of the folks I talk to. The only way we’ll get any action on climate change is to have a dictator who enacts policies and rams them down the throats of the public. Otherwise, the average voter only thinks of how much he/she has to pay. $10 a month extra on your electric bill for clean energy???Never!!!! I want to scream at them…….how much will you pay to preserve your grandchildren’s futures?

      Reply
  84. Ryan in New England

     /  May 9, 2016

    An iconic figure, David Attenborough, just turned 90. His series produced from the Great Barrier Reef at the start of the year will likely be his last, but not only because he is 90 and won’t be around much longer. Likely, the reef itself won’t be around much longer, as it succumbs to more frequent and more intense bleaching events.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/08/birthday-gift-david-attenborough-great-barrier-reef

    Reply
  1. Shift in the Wind May Push Gargantuan Fort McMurray Fire Toward Tar Sands Facilities on Saturday | robertscribbler – Enjeux énergies et environnement
  2. Tar Sands Fire Burning Out Of Control in Canada – Thousands Flee

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