It’s Not Just Subtropical Cornwall — Climate Zones Everywhere are on the March Poleward

A few weeks ago, the University of Exeter found that parts of Cornwall, England had become subtropical. The study stated that since average temperatures had risen to above 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) for periods of time longer than seven months, this part of England situated on a latitude line north of most of Newfoundland has become part of a climate zone that during the early 20th century extended as far south as the southern tip of Florida.

Seemingly oblivious to the new oddity and possible peril implied by such a significant climate shift, the study went on to cheerfully observe that:

Parts of Cornwall have become subtropical since 2000 and this could create opportunities to grow new, unusual plants. Sunflowers, maize, grapevines and tea are already grown in the Duchy.

The study also pointed out that the added heat might present a problem or two, instances that might be sorted out simply by getting scientists to work together with farmers:

While sub-tropical conditions may create opportunities to grow exotic crops, the lower frequency of frosts is also making Cornwall more susceptible to invasive species. As the temperatures continue to warm, we need to ensure we manage the risks carefully as well as capitalising on the opportunities. This will require scientists to continue to work hand-in-hand with the horticultural sector.

Subtropical Cornwall — Sahara Desert Marches North as Coastal Zones Flood

Unmentioned, however, was how bizarre the notion of a subtropical Cornwall actually is and what such a major climate shift may mean for the globe, Europe, and Cornwall itself — a shift that may put the odd notion of ‘capitalising on the opportunities’ practically out of reach.

Unfortunately, big climate-zone movements of the kind shown in the Exeter study risk an amazing range of ecological and geophysical damage. A short and incomplete list includes melting glaciers, shrinking sea ice, rising sea levels (a very real worry for the numerous coastal communities near or within Cornwall, including places like Falmouth, Penzance, St Ives, and Exeter itself), stratifying and increasingly anoxic oceans, mass coral bleaching, and habitat loss for species on a global scale risking mass extinction. Any such mention of this appropriately worrying context was notably and oddly absent from the Exeter study.

Subtropical climates

(The subtropical climate zones of the world as of the late 20th century. Image source: Commons.)

Of particular interest to Cornwall and regions nearby is that the northward expansion of the subtropical regions of the world has long been a concern among climate scientists due to its ability to enhance desertification in highly-populated regions like Europe. The issue is that as the tropics and subtropics drift poleward, they bring hot, dry weather along with them. Because the subtropical regions support conditions conducive for arid climates, there is a high likelihood that deserts will march northward into more densely-inhabited regions.

A 2010 study by UCAR found that under continued fossil-fuel burning, the Sahara Desert essentially leaps across the Mediterranean and fully expands into southern and central Europe. In other words, though Cornwall may be able to support subtropical plants now, the northward movement of the arid zone related to the incoming warmth would make growing such plants an increasingly difficult prospect as time moves forward.

Drought Zones Expand under global warming

(A 2010 UCAR study found that drought zones dramatically expand as the tropical and subtropical climate zones march northward due to human-forced warming. Image source: Drought Under Global Warming.)

It’s Not Just Cornwall — Climate Zones are Moving Everywhere

As we consider what the onset of intensified warming may mean for Cornwall — with deserts expanding and seas stratifying as they rise — it’s also worth thinking a little bit about the related warming-forced movement of the world’s isotherms. Isotherm is a meteorological term for a line connecting regions of the same temperature. Averaged over the coldest or warmest months of a year, these lines of temperature also mark the boundaries between climate zones.

The tropics, for example, are bounded in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres by a line of 18 C (64.4 F) average coldest-month temperatures. The edges of the two polar zones are bounded by a line of 10 degrees Celsius (50 F) average temperatures during the hottest months of the year (July in the Boreal region, January in the Austral region).

 

Isotherms

(NOAA global isotherm map. Image source: NOAA Climate Zones.)

Tucked between these two zones are the temperate and subtropical climates. Over the past 40 years, rapid warming has shoved these isotherms poleward. This shift has created a new climate reality for Cornwall and pretty much everywhere else.

At an average decadal march away from the Equator of about 35 miles, these respective climate boundaries have moved by around 140 miles over the last four decades, expanding the total reach of the tropic zone by 280 miles northward and southward. In the Northern Hemisphere, the polar climate zone has shrunken toward the continental edges by about 14o miles, while in the Southern Hemisphere, the polar zone is shrinking off the tip of South America and across the Southern Ocean toward Antarctica by a similar distance.

These changes in the isotherms are rough measures, of course. In some places, like Cornwall, climate zones are moving toward the poles at an even faster rate. And the Arctic climate zone is notably shrinking at a more rapid rate than the Southern Hemisphere polar zone.

Rapid Climate Zone Movement Risks Species Extinction

Movement of these climate zones is driven by a rate of global warming in the range 0.15 to 0.20 degrees C every ten years, a pace of warming about 30 times faster than the warming at the end of the last ice age. As a result, plants and animals are finding that the habitats to which they’ve adapted are swiftly and dramatically changing. Plant and animal ranges have moved behind these climate zones at a rate of only about four miles every decade. Basically, habitats are moving too quickly for the creatures they support to catch up.

Earth_Global_Circulation

(As the globe warms due to fossil-fuel burning, the tropical Hadley cell expands even as the top of the polar and mid-latitude cells rise. This combination results in severe climate shifts and more persistent weather patterns due to a weakened polar jet stream. Such change in climate results in loss of animal habitat and increasingly difficult and extreme weather conditions for human beings. Image source: NASA/Commons.)

Back in 2008, climate scientist James Hansen noted:

If emissions of greenhouse gases continue to increase at the current rate—“business as usual”—then the rate of isotherm movement will double in this century to at least 70 miles per decade. If we continue on this path, a large fraction of the species on Earth, as many as 50 percent or more, may become extinct. The species most at risk are those in polar climates and the biologically diverse slopes of alpine regions. These animals, in effect, will be pushed off the planet—though some like the polar bear may be “rescued” and allowed to survive in zoos.

It is important to also consider that loss of plant habitat due to warming and drying is a primary driver of the mass tree death and increase in wildfire rates we have seen across the globe in recent years. Along with the mass exodus of fish from warming Equatorial oceans and the flipping-on of the global coral bleaching switch during 2014-2016, we can see these species-threatening impacts in heart-wrenching and terrifying effect today.

Given that the rapid poleward progression of the isotherms has continued since Hansen’s 2008 writing, and given that the pace of global warming appears to have accelerated through the 2014 to 2016 period, it appears that his statement is all the more salient today — especially now that we are starting to see some of the mass loss of animal and plant life due to warming that Hansen mentioned. And especially since parts of Cornwall in England are now considered subtropical.

Links:

Subtropical Cornwall Climate Could Mean Exotic New Crops (among other things)

Commons

Drought Under Global Warming

NOAA Climate Zones

Scientist James Hansen, “The 800 Pound Gorilla”

66 Million Trees Dead in California

This Global Coral Bleaching Event Just Won’t End

Tropical Fish Moving Toward Poles

NASA/Commons

Hat tip to Cate

Hat tip to DT Lange

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103 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:
    *
    *
    A few weeks ago, the University of Exeter found that parts of Cornwall, England had become subtropical – like numerous other previously temperate zones. Consequences include drought, habitat loss for important species and new infectious disease dangers, like the recent anthrax outbreak in Russia: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/08/03/488400947/anthrax-outbreak-in-russia-thought-to-be-result-of-thawing-permafrost

    Reply
    • Kevin Jones

       /  August 4, 2016

      “There’s also likely smallpox and bubonic plague buried in Siberia….” There you go, Colorado Bob. (regarding your earlier comment) As we get deeper into this thing, the deeper we find we already have gone.

      Reply
  2. – Bang on, Robert.
    Paint it visceral — paint it true.

    – Plenty of micro changes happen along the way. Especially in microclimates where any change is often huge — especially for biotic habitat.

    – Hansen sure had it pegged in 2008.

    Reply
    • It would be nice to get a hi res map that included micro climates. Kind of like tide pools on the global climate beach.

      Reply
    • To my eye, this 140 mile metric is unlikely to be a flat straight latitudinal line. Due to various topographical and meteorological conditions, etc. — it should undulate with ridges and peaks of varying heights.

      Reply
      • Jay M

         /  August 5, 2016

        there is a lot more land mass in the northern hemisphere so the march N will involve less of the watery world that modulates a lot of this stuff

        Reply
        • Jay M

           /  August 5, 2016

          colorful water vapor over east US

        • I’d say more that it’s the geophysical nature of the Arctic that enhances Northern Hemisphere warming. Basically, the ice cap sits on the ocean — which more efficiently transfers heat from south to north than air. And even a slight warming of the Arctic Ocean relative to previous periods can have a big impact on local climate. The sea ice which covers much of that ocean is far thinner than the massive glaciers of Antarctica and is thus more sensitive to climate variation. And the continents surrounding the Arctic are far more susceptible to warming during the summer period even as they contribute a portion of that warmth to the Arctic Ocean in the form of river flow. The Arctic carbon stores are more vulnerable to thaw (being land and ocean permafrost, not permafrost beneath glaciers). And the dark ocean at the center of the Arctic, once uncovered, has a very low albedo.

          Antarctica, by comparison is surrounded by an insulating ocean. Its massive ice sheets generate a great deal of inertia. The cold Antarctic continent, has little influence on weather because it is buried by a great glacial mass. The primary mechanism for Antarctic melt will tend, for a while, to be basal melt as the ocean warms and intrudes upon the various submerged glaciers and land masses there. This is more a steady but slow march at the surface. But below, the ocean influence is very strong. And the energy tends to go more toward melting ice than to warming the surface ocean and the atmosphere. That said, such warming will happen. But its character will be quite different from what we see in the Arctic.

  3. labmonkey2

     /  August 4, 2016

    Article linked via Climate State:
    Cyanobacteria covered the entire surface of Lake Taihu (in eastern China), a 2000-km2 lake, and led to a drinking water crisis affecting five million people.

    The research team, led by Professor of Aquatic Microbiology Jef Huisman, trained their microscopes on Microcystis, a type of blue-green algae that proliferate in lakes and reservoirs in summer. The team analysed the genetic composition of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae’s scientific name), observing Microcystis in both the lab and the Kennemer lake, under CO2-rich and poor conditions. ‘Before this, the adaptive potential of these harmful cyanobacteria in response to increasing CO2 concentrations had never been studied systematically, even though this can help us predict how algal blooms will develop in future’, explains Xing Ji, a PhD researcher on the team.

    and we see ‘evolution’ on the micro scale as a result… damn, skippy.


    In both the lab and the lake, cyanobacteria’s genetic makeup changed in response to increasing CO2 concentrations. ‘It’s a textbook example of natural selection’, says lead author Giovanni Sandrini. ‘Cyanobacteria absorb CO2 during photosynthesis to produce their biomass, and we observed that the strain best equipped to absorb dissolved CO2 eventually gains the upper hand.’

    So, as the climate marches northward and we humans assume we can go there, too, we can now see that may not be such a great idea as the great melt uncovers the planet’s past.

    Reply
  4. – All climate is a series of, micro-climes that are always changing in small ways.

    One way to look at it is that for every warming influence there is a cooling one.
    For every part open to wind there is a wind break.
    For every sunny area there is a shady one.
    It’s so simple…
    Nature, left alone, easily balances these forces allowing biota to thrive.
    To interfere with this balancing is to invite climatic big trouble.

    Reply
  5. Things like this were mentioned in the previous RS post:

    -sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/mysterious-ice-buried-cold-war-military-base

    Mysterious, ice-buried Cold War military base may be unearthed by climate change

    In 1959, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the subterranean city under the guise of conducting polar research—and scientists there did drill the first ice core ever used to study climate. But deep inside the frozen tunnels, the corps also explored the feasibility of Project Iceworm, a plan to store and launch hundreds of ballistic missiles from inside the ice.

    The military ultimately rejected the project, and the corps abandoned Camp Century in 1967. Engineers anticipated that the ice—already a dozen meters thick—would continue to accumulate in northwestern Greenland, permanently entombing what they left behind.

    Now, climate change has upended that assumption…

    – The main trench at Camp Century in Greenland led to an underground city carved out of the ice.

    Reply
  6. Keith Antonysen

     /  August 4, 2016

    I really admire the diversity and strength of the articles you are publishing, Robert.

    These adverts have probably already been posted in relation to other previous stories.

    http://www.partnershipforresponsiblegrowth.org/pricecarbon/

    Reply
    • wili

       /  August 5, 2016

      Sorry, ‘growth’ is almost never ‘responsible’ these days. We have to get away from our necrophyliac fetish for ‘growth.’ If you had a cancerous ‘growth’ on your neck, would you be for ‘responsible growth’?? This is where we are now. Think.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  August 5, 2016

        Reply
        • Not happy with Kevin’s attacks on Paris. We can say it isn’t yet enough without demonizing the treaty. It is a clear part of a necessary policy escalation. One that will result in reduced harms even if 2 C and 1.5 C goals are not achievable under the current pledges (or possible without a full global mobilization to deal with the problem). The momentum generated by Paris enables the necessary shrinking of fossil fuel special interest power before a yet more significant effort can become politically possible.

          With this important caveat, Kevin provides good information. I would caution, though, against allowing him to be a platform for attacking necessary and needed policies that would help to increase the strength our response to the climate crisis.

      • Shawn Redmond

         /  August 5, 2016

        We have to change how we think. This is a monumental task. We are programmed to think growth and it is drilled into us daily.

        Reply
        • Cate

           /  August 5, 2016

          Shawn, agreed. and it seems to me that in the past 30 years, the programming for growth has amounted to brainwashing. A whole generation has grown up and come of age believing the neo-liberal, New World Order dictum that growth is essential. I can remember what it was like before growth became an accepted article of faith: I came of age in the back-to-the-land, zero-population-growth, stop-pollution, Limits-to-Growth era. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was clear to my generation what was coming. People were talking about it and beginning to do something about it. By 1990, that discourse had been effectively shut down as corporatism took control of the public agenda in order to protect and to maximise profit. Et voila, here we are. .

        • Shawn Redmond

           /  August 5, 2016

          For sure Cate, I spent the 80’s and 90’s doing the back to the land thing with Nubian goats for milk and cheeses as well as chickens, gardens and a small 8×24 greenhouse with one child. Carried it through until about ’10 and then personal changes caused a situation change. I do miss my critters a fair bit.

      • Keith Antonysen

         /  August 5, 2016

        wili, the advertisements come from quite a conservative source I believe which undermine the looney Tea Party Republicans and neo cons generally. I’m fully aware growth can not continue indefinitely. If we have 3% growth; then, over 10 years that becomes 30%, unsustainable. I’ll have a look at your video link when I get a chance.

        Reply
    • So I think a tax on carbon would be the exact kind of policy we need to cut harmful fossil fuel emissions going forward. But I see it more as pro-progress than pro-growth. Pricing carbon is a can of worms that has tended to be easily manipulated by the fossil fuel industry. In some cases, it has worked to help reduce carbon emissions. In others it has resulted in stagnation of emissions reductions or even incentivized further increases in emissions. It’s tough for me to find a lot of enthusiasm for a carbon price when the fossil fuel industry is cheering it on. That said, if regulated responsibly it can help. I’d add the ‘risk of economic, political, and environmental peril without strong regulation and oversight’ caveat.

      ‘Growth – based thinking’ has too often come to represent harmful policies like blanket deregulation, development that consumes natural resources without replacing them, related large-scale externalization of harm, and economic systems that create damaging inequalities in society. Growth itself has tended to be euphemism for what many people assume as a good in the form of prosperity or a bad in terms of a form of harmful devouring, polluting and expansion. It therefore creates a kind of deep cognitive and societal dissonance.

      But growth in the harmful sense that I’m describing here is rather a form of gluttony and grasping that ultimately results in the exact opposite of prosperity. It is due to this intrinsic misconception and misrepresentation of the prosperity drive, at its very core, that tends to generate a perfect political and ideological wedge. It’s tough, in other words, to separate the innate biological imperative to grow and be prosperous, the life-drive for growth, from a term that has all too often come represent terrible economic, political, and environmental policy. In the end, I think, it’s due to ideological thinking resulting in a deconstruction of people’s ability to objectively analyze what’s happening and think in terms that aren’t prescribed. For in the end it easy to understand that unless you restrain yourself, unless you hold back on gratification, think non-selfishly, and turn away from narcissism, there’s really no way to have either individual or societal prosperity in the long term. Personally, we do these things every day. We exercise, even though we may not enjoy it, for long term health benefits. We don’t gobble up every sweet or fatty thing we see because we do not want to weigh 400 pounds and die of a heart attack at age 35. We hold back work and monetary gain for more than a decade to achieve education goals. We donate, volunteer, and take time off for sick family members not for the benefit of ourselves, but because of the less tangible but much stronger and lasting benefit of the social and family strength and connections we hold dear. We do these things daily in our lives. So why is it so hard to think of these terms in the context of a sustainable, healthy, and long-term prosperous political and economic system?

      Pro-growth became moreso a pro-gluttony, pro-instant gratification way of thinking. It was these ‘pro-growth’ policies that set up the great depression, the great recession, and that turned the carbon age into a mass extinction machine. Pro-growth resulted in corporate abuses of NAFTA and other trade organizations. Pro-growth cuts taxes for the rich, privatizes public goods, dumps chemicals into the rivers and attacks the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions. Pro-growth turns markets into levers that destroy middle and lower class wealth and savings while propelling wealth to the top of economic spectrums. Pro-growth actually wrecks real GDP growth by generating harmful booms, busts, and collapses. I think in this sense that ‘growth’ should not be confused with progress or real prosperity.

      ‘Economic Growth’ however, is something a shade or two different in that you can dematerialize an economy and still generate prosperous economic systems (in fact, for all practical terms you increase long-term prosperity as you reduce excess and related harm). And I think the fact is that these two notions have been confused to the point that it creates a good deal of damage. If the system is optimized to produce economic growth by generating equalities, by reducing externalized harm, by reducing materials through-put, by reducing hours worked to reasonable levels, and in a context of population restraint and all the other goals of sustainability (adding renewables, increasing efficiency, reducing harmful materials consumption, managing farming and other industries so that they produce ecosystem goods or positive impacts rather than negative impacts), then I think that you can, indeed, have benevolent economic ‘growth’ by a certain metric. But this kind of growth, in my view, should be called progress so as not to be confused with the other growth — the kind that wrecks the world, concentrates wealth and power into a few hands, and ends up being a gigantic race to the bottom in every respect.

      From Limits to Growth:

      “If a society’s implicit goals are to exploit nature, enrich the elites, and ignore the long-term, then that society will develop technologies and markets that destroy the environment, widen the gap between the rich and the poor, and optimize for short-term gains. In short, that society develops technologies and markets that hasten a collapse instead of preventing it.”

      The notion is to do the opposite…

      Reply
    • Actually, I have an even simpler and more down to Earth bit to say here —

      If it will get republicans to actually support a carbon tax without resulting in them wrecking the rest of government revenue generation, then I’d say that this may end up being a good thing overall.

      That free market rhetoric is something I could do without, though.

      Reply
  7. Vic

     /  August 5, 2016

    The poleward march shows up clearly in this recent study of BOM rainfall data.

    http://www.aegic.org.au/media/news/2016/02/new-australian-climate-developing.aspx

    “Most rainfall zone boundaries have typically shifted 100-400km over the last 16 years.”

    Reply
  8. Double burnout planned to protect Idaho town from wildfire
    Firefighters have set up sprinkler systems on homes in a central Idaho town and also plan to start two simultaneous burnouts Thursday to stop a 78-square-mile wildfire from coming down a creek drainage that funnels into the community
    http://www.localnews8.com/double-burnout-planned-to-protect-idaho-town-from-wildfire/41051370

    Reply
  9. – Via climatehawk1
    A gaff rigged schooner, able to sail close to the wind, is pictured.

    Reply
    • It’s amazing how much you can do with sail. I’ve always seen the mode of transport as quite elegant. With thin film solar on sails, there seems to be a nice potential synergy in using the sail surface to generate electricity for a motor and for power on the vessel as well.

      Reply
  10. – Alaska hot. No surprise here but stunning never the less:

    Alaska Dispatch News
    Weather
    Anchorage just experienced its hottest month on record

    Anchorage just recorded its hottest month ever, amid a statewide July warm spell that saw temperature extremes from Southeast all the way to Deadhorse.

    That’s according to National Weather Service meteorologists, who said on Facebook Tuesday that temperatures last month were searing throughout southern Alaska — Kenai also had its hottest month on record, while Homer and Sitka both posted their warmest July ever.

    “Most other long-term climate observations locations in southwest Alaska reported the second-warmest July,” meteorologists wrote.

    Two spots on the North Slope saw their warmest single days on record as well, with the Deadhorse Airport hitting 85 degrees on July 13 and Kuparuk reaching 86 degrees on July 14.

    Reply
    • ‘ Climate scientists said the warmth is due, in part, to above-average sea temperatures.

      “All around Alaska, sea surface temperatures are much warmer than normal,” said Rick Thoman, climate science and services manager for the NWS Alaska Region. “In the Bering Sea, especially south of St. Lawrence Island or so, they’re really outrageously warm compared to normal.”

      [ And those damned warm and moist conditions in the one place that you don’t want it…]

      The warmth brings about the rain, according to Brian Brettschneider, climate scientist with the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center.

      Warm air can hold more moisture, Brettschneider explained.

      “The air is like a sponge, and the sponge is a little bit wet, and if you squeeze out the sponge you get rain. Well, the warmer the air, the more water that sponge can hold,” he said.
      http://www.adn.com/alaska-news/weather/2016/08/03/anchorage-just-experienced-its-hottest-month-ever-recorded/

      Reply
  11. cwlongway

     /  August 5, 2016

    So this is the Anthropocene, a time of movement to the poles. I don’t see it lasting very long. When we run out of FF, Man, or Anthropos from the Greek, will no longer be in the driver’s seat. So what should be the name of the next age when Nature again takes charge? I have heard a few suggestions but I am not aware of any that have become popular like Anthropocene. I offer the name “Hadeacene” which is also from the Greek for home of the dead or Hell. The word brings to mind: death, fire, torment, and the reward for a life spent in only serving one’s self. I like the way it sounds, but not sure if others will find it fitting. The Hadean Eon was a time after the late heavy bombardment in the early history of the solar system. The Hadean left geological layers on the moon, but not on earth. The entire earth’s crust returned to a molten form. So a similar word may be OK to use for the next age. Most people will not know that part of the word was stolen from the distant past.
    I did not find “Hadeacene” by searching Google. I have never actually spoken the word out loud. So Robert, be my guest to be the 1st to utter this word.

    Reply
    • – A word here:
      Hades of Greek mythology may be the root of your term.

      Hades the Greek God of the Underworld

      Hades was the Greek God of the Underworld, the ruler of the dead. Hades was an important God, because he incorporated the concept of the “other world” and sometimes the idea of the good and the evil.

      Hades in Greek means the Unseen. Although the name Hades was the name of the God himself, it soon became synonymous to the place where the dead people would go, so Hades soon became synonymous of the Underworld.
      The Family Tree of Hades

      Father of Hades: Cronus

      Mother of Hades: Rea or Rhea

      Brothers: Poseidon and Zeus

      Sisters: Demeter, Hera and Hestia

      Wife of Hades: Persephone

      http://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com/hades-greek-god-underworld/

      Reply
    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  August 5, 2016

      CW, plainly it will be the Thanatocene, the Age of Death.

      Reply
  12. Greg

     /  August 5, 2016

    Who among us was swimming during the Vietnam war, the Korean war, WWII, WWI, or before the Titanic. Granny was. What she would tell us about the changes she’s seen in the Pacific if we could only ask:

    Reply
  13. Greg

     /  August 5, 2016

    Wind mills on fire. I kind of love the physics of it. It’s the kind of little industrial and mechanical messes we will have to settle for in a renewable future. Oh well my grandchildren, you missed out on the Kuwaiti oil fires and the daily FF disasters and only get this little drama:

    Reply
    • Definitely happens once in a while (hundreds of thousands of turbines installed worldwide), but you’re right, not quite in a class with the Kuwait oil fires or even an oil bomb train explosion.

      Reply
    • The only time a wind mill generates an emission.

      Reply
    • What are the odds of having 2 windmills burning on the same site at the same time?

      Pretty old design by the way. Lattice mast are no longer in use.

      Reply
      • It’s pretty rare that wind mills explode. Footage of these seldom-occurring events has primarily been used as an anti-renewable energy PR tool by people like the Koch Brothers.

        Reply
        • The fossil folks and their anti-wind allies have actually done a clever job on this issue–they’ve pulled together a sizable set of photos of various wind turbine fires and failures and circulated them by e-mail. When I worked at the wind trade association, a copy would surface very couple of months, so presumably it is still out there being passed breathlessly from hand to hand. Under the radar and therefore hard to refute except as each one surfaces, and then you can only respond to a single sender.

      • “What are the odds of having 2 windmills burning on the same site at the same time?”

        Beats me. Never saw or heard of it in 30 years involvement with the wind business. However, the caption says it was due to what sounds like a problem with the power network, which could explain why two machines miraculously overheated at the same time.

        Reply
  14. Shawn Redmond

     /  August 5, 2016

    “these respective climate boundaries have moved by around 140 miles over the last four decades, ” This amount of change is astounding. Based on my own personal observations the stretching of time levels out the bumps for sure. However it seems to smooth things a little too much. The last ten to twelve years the changes in my locale seem to be greater than the previous twenty. I can offer no scientific analysis to back this up. Only antidotal evidence i.e. through the eights and nineties lakes freezing solid enough to carry full size vehicles and since ’05 four years not considered safe enough to skate on with two years ,last most notable, some lakes not even freezing across. This could also be evidence of micro climates I suppose.

    Reply
  15. Colorado Bob

     /  August 5, 2016

    Photographer captures the scene as a hillside slides down in Alaska. It was caused by permafrost melting underneath.

    http://www.wesh.com/video/the-weather-channel/alaska-slope-slides-as-permafrost-melts/41032482

    Reply
    • The mushy ooze looks like a river of oatmeal rather than terra firma… firma?… firm?… not there. Not any more.

      Reply
  16. climatehawk1

     /  August 5, 2016

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  17. Way off topic, but maybe relevant to the future of life on the planet.

    Donald Trump Asked an Adviser Three Times Why the U.S. Can’t Use Its Nukes, Says Joe Scarborough

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/08/03/donald_trump_asked_why_the_u_s_couldn_t_use_nukes_say_joe_scarborough.html

    Check out the video of the interview with former CIA head Michael Hayden.

    It has the makings of a terrible tragedy, maybe. Design a nuclear launch system for speed, decisiveness, and control by a single man. Then put that nuclear launch system into the hands of a man who might be a sociopath.

    Whether or not he’s a sociopath, we know that he’s unpredictable, and has made similar statements about the use of nuclear weapons during recorded interviews. We also know that he’s butt ignorant about the climate, and stupidly stubborn about admitting the reality of climate change.

    If this was a video game, it would be interesting. But this whole experiment in planetary engineering with CO2, nuclear weapons, human ignorance and unpredictability and elite privilege is getting way too interesting in the only reality we have.

    Reply
    • Here’s a link to the YouTube version of the Scarborough interview with Hayden:

      Reply
      • Greg

         /  August 5, 2016

        The timing and process for the launch of nuclear weapons by the U.S.?
        Hayden: “The system is designed for speed and decisiveness, it’s not designed to debate the decision”

        Reply
        • Cate

           /  August 5, 2016

          Re “erratic”—yes, I think what scares me most about the Donald is his profound and expansive ignorance. I don’t expect the President to know everything but I do expect the President to have a clear grasp of what matters and why. The Donald has no such understanding. And because he knows so little, he’s completely dependent on advice, which means that he’s a sucker for anyone with a line to feed him. He will be terrifyingly easy to manipulate.

        • Hi Greg, hi Cate-

          I’m wondering if the source of the story – the political science expert of international proportions who briefed Trump – was Zbigniew Brzezinski. His daughter, Mika Brzezinski is Joe Scarborough’s co-host on Scarborough’s TV show. Zbigniew Brzezinski is David Rockefeller’s favorite foreign policy adviser, ran the Trilateral Commission for David Rockefeller, and was Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser. So it seems plausible that he might brief a Presidential candidate on foreign policy and national security.

          The political science adviser who briefed Trump could also be one of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s students, I suppose.

          Just speculating. But the report sounds like the truth, to me. He has made similar statements in the past. To be charitable (should we?) he may be only trying to use the nuclear weapons as a bargaining chip in negotiations. But can we take the chance of being charitable? People thought that Hitler was just full of hot air, too – and then he actually did all the truly incredible and horrific things he said he was going to do.

          His profound and expansive ignorance makes him vulnerable to the advice of his advisers – and he picks really scary advisers – this does not include Brzezinski. But as scary as his advisers and cabinet would likely be, to me they are less scary than he is.

  18. Greg

     /  August 5, 2016

    Modern cities are ruled by cars. Streets are designed for them; bikers, pedestrians, vendors, hangers-out, and all other forms of human life are pushed to the perimeter in narrow lanes or sidewalks. Truly shared spaces are confined to parks and the occasional plaza. This is such a fundamental reality of cities that we barely notice it any more.

    Some folks, however, still cling to the old idea that cities are for people, that more common space should be devoted to living in the city rather than getting through it or around it.

    But once you’ve got a city that’s mostly composed of street grids, devoted to moving cars around, how do you take it back? How can cities be reclaimed for people?

    The city of Barcelona has come up with one incredibly clever solution to that problem.
    http://www.vox.com/2016/8/4/12342806/barcelona-superblocks

    Reply
  19. RS
    Last two posts just smashing. Should be required information.

    Reply
  20. Greg

     /  August 5, 2016

    The site of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters might be on the verge of getting a makeover: The Ukrainian government has announced a plan to transform the radioactive wasteland of Chernobyl into a solar energy farm.

    “The Chernobyl site has really good potential for renewable energy,” Ukraine’s environment minister Ostap Semerak said in an interview in London. “We already have high-voltage transmission lines that were previously used for the nuclear stations, the land is very cheap, and we have many people trained to work at power plants.”

    The solar farm would provide roughly 1,000 megawatts of power to the country per year, according to the California Energy Commission. That’s about a third of what Chernobyl nuclear power plant supplied to the country during its peak.
    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/08/chernobyl-could-be-turned-into-a-solar-energy-farm

    Reply
  21. Greg

     /  August 5, 2016

    The future is being thrown at us in torrents. Robert is one of the extremely few making heads and tales of it. Everything that got us into this worsening mess conspires to maintain a disastrous momentum towards civilization’s collapse unless we think and act very differently. It seems like we are on the verge of being forced into facing this reality in everything we do, not just intellectually, or emotionally but on the ground. What an amazing opportunity in the midst of this existential angst. That to me is very exciting and hopeful. That is what keeps me on this blog, not just the voyeurism of watching a train wreck and having a community to share that with. A low energy future is not a model that we will return to willingly, only in a post collapse scenario, IMHO, and the security required to maintain peace even in that scenario likely requires authoritarian rule. I’ve accepted that as the way forward – having finished sweat lodges in the wilds – and then gotten back into my car to return to a comfortable home in the suburbs. I will be kicking and screaming as I am dragged into simplicity – even if I romanticize it. Robert has made that case here that we, as civilization, must move forward without depriving people of their wants – certainly redirecting and curtailing them – but not fundamentally depriving people. Tall order. I certainly can’t see many millions of us, privileged enough to tap away on a laptop, giving up our internet and the high energy infrastructure required to make it work. Thank you for this space Robert. May these thoughts be accessible from a quantum server a 1000 years from now. Now off to my job. Need to pay the bills for my kids “Living Earth” camp for the summer….

    Reply
    • Well, I do not at all support a return to centralized authoritarianism. I think adding in the flaws of the individual to the flaws of current society would increase instability and add to collapse pressure. Adding needed rules and regulations and asking for individual sacrifice is not authoritarian. It is just simply common sense given the current situation.

      There’s a needle we need to thread here. And there’s a distinction we need to make between want and need as well as various levers we can apply to incentivize helpful behavior and dis incentivize harmful behavior. But we should be very diligent in not sacrificing our values simply because the problem is large and difficult. It’s just that we need to say that certain ways of doing business are destructive and that they need to go and swiftly.

      As for high energy servers — run them more efficiently on something other than oil, gas, and coal. We can certainly do this. Servers in the US currently consume 15 GWh of electricity every year. The annual US add rate for renewable energy already makes up the total.

      Reply
    • In any case, the notion is to start to make some sacrifices now and to move that bar forward as need be.

      Reply
  22. Reply
    • The photo of the many tailpipes behind the graph is a bit telling…

      Reply
      • – I love it whenever an equation is inadvertently attained. Read it backwards or forwards — the same ‘balanced’ result.🙂

        Reply
        • Actually, the point is: all is heat.
          Heat multiplied…
          Heat is driving climate change.

  23. – PNW – Pacific Ocean

    Groundwater contamination poses risk to Pacific Northwest ocean waters, study says

    There are a few reasons the Pacific Northwest is particularly vulnerable, Sawyer said. Lots of rainfall and steep coastal ranges combine to create higher loads of nitrate-rich groundwater, which seeps into the ocean.

    “The Pacific Northwest stands out as a place where groundwater carries a high nitrate load,” she said.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2016/08/groundwater_contamination_pose.html

    Reply
    • Q: Robert, do you think this sort of near shore loading could have contributed to the conditions that led to those mentioned in your previous post, ‘Shades of a Canfield Ocean — Hydrogen Sulfide in Oregon’s Purple Waves?’

      Reply
      • Re: he actual locations referenced — why there?.

        Reply
      • Lands that are more likely to produce large-scale erosion and run-off during the increasingly intense rainfall events would be predisposed to pumping more nutrients into the water.

        The primary factors involved were ocean heat generating conditions where these bacteria can thrive and a high enough nutrient loading to support the big blooms. Note that with cooler ocean temperatures this year, large blooms aren’t as much an issue.

        In other words, the nutrient support needed for the blooms just has to hit a certain base-line. Adding more and more doesn’t support them to a greater extent beyond a point. And the blooms don’t happen unless you ‘cook’ the ocean with heat at high enough levels to promote them. The primary driver is warming. Other factors are additive. But the high nutrient zones are where we’ll tend to see these things get cooked up first.

        As the glaciers melt, they’ll add their own load of run-off, iron, nitrogen and phosphorous. Add stratification and heat and that’s a bad recipe especially when you include the human nutrient load to the mix.

        Reply
  24. Colorado Bob

     /  August 5, 2016

    Just 2% of China’s July Floods Covered by Insurance, vs. Nearly 70% in U.S.: Aon

    http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2016/08/05/422425.htm

    Reply
  25. A historical China landslide of note — and the physical forces.

    The Jishi Gorge Landslide: in a paper in the journal Science today, Wu et al. (2016) reconstruct an ancient flood from a landslide dam breach on the Yellow River in China. This flood was reportedly an important cultural event in China as early historiographies of China, such as the Shujing (Book of Documents) and Shiji (Records of the Grand Historian) report a devastating flood on the Yellow River over 3,500 years ago. Emperor Yu the Great reportedly tamed the flood (probably actually managing the aftermath of the river changes caused by the flood), whereupon he established the first Chinese dynasty, the Xia, thus changing civilisation forever. However, many scholars see the Xia dynasty as being mythical, not helped by the fact that evidence for the Great Flood has been lacking.

    In their paper, Wu et al. (2016) have identified a potential landslide dam source of the Great Flood, and have mapped and dated the associated deposits. They propose that the flood was generated by the collapse of the Jishi Gorge landslide on the Yellow River, and they have identified the potential location of the landslide. This is a Google Earth image of the site – the landslide scar is on the right (south) side in the area labelled Shaolunzi Bay. The scar is very clear, extending to the ridge:

    Reply
      • ‘Wu et al. (2016) suggest that the volume of water released by the breach event would have been between about 11 and 16 cubic kilometres, generating a flood with a peak discharge of about 400,000 cubic metres per second, 500 times the average discharge. As such it would have been one of the largest known river floods in the Holocene.

        I suspect that the linkage between this event and the evolution of the Xia dynasty is going to be highly controversial. The presence of the remains of a very large landslide, and associated lake bed and breach flood sediments, seem reasonable. If Wu et al. (2016) are right then this is a landslide that truly changed the world.’

        Reply
  26. Colorado Bob

     /  August 5, 2016

    CNN

    Poll: Clinton leads Trump in red state Georgia
    CNN – ‎2 hours ago‎

    (CNN) Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in a surprising new poll of Georgia, edging the Republican nominee 44% to 40% among registered voters in the deep red state.

    Reply
  27. The American Meterological Society came out with a report on The State of the Climate in 2015. There’s an article on it by the National Geographic which I reblogged here.

    Reply
    • It’s a big 300 page report that I’m taking the weekend to read. An excellent compilation of research into the record climate year that was 2015.

      Reply
      • Yes, that report is quite the find!🙂

        On the topic of hardiness zones moving north: here in New Orleans the USDA hardiness zone was relisted from Zone 8b to borderline Zone 9b / 10a. Then the two bad winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15 hit. I had never experienced New Orleans so cold!

        Reply
  28. Reply
  29. Colorado Bob

     /  August 5, 2016

    Where Do We Go from Here?
    By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 10:07 PM GMT on August 04, 2016

    So as climate-change blogger, I am searching for a mission, perhaps a theme. Jeff and Bob and Chris do a magnificent job on what is going on in the world of climate and weather. I have always tried to bring a perspective, here, that is different from other blogs. My nature is to collect ideas together and to look for different paths into a subject. Of course, I have my moments of appealing contrariness and quaint idiosyncrasies. My literary moments. Obscure references to dinosaur rock.

    A few blogs ago, I claimed that I was entering some sort of climate-change transition. I had been writing for years that “new normal,” did not make sense. Namely, we were not making a transition from an old normal to a new normal. There. We have arrived.

    Link

    Reply
    • Colorado Bob

       /  August 5, 2016

      Send Dr. Rood some love, his readers are some of the most thoughtful on the web.

      Reply
  30. Colorado Bob

     /  August 5, 2016

    Battle of Britain Suite –

    Reply
  31. Colorado Bob

     /  August 5, 2016

    The Kochs are after the Attorney generals of every state, Beware of of this .

    Reply
  32. Colorado Bob

     /  August 6, 2016

    I fear the Koch money much more than the Trump dumpster fire.

    Reply
  33. Colorado Bob

     /  August 6, 2016

    We elect Clinton the court flips .

    Reply
  34. Colorado Bob

     /  August 6, 2016

    Never lay down, ever.

    Reply
  35. June

     /  August 6, 2016

    The town that reveals how Russia spills two Deepwater Horizons of oil each year

    The main problem, according to the natural resources ministry, is that 60% of pipeline infrastructure is deteriorated. And with fines inexpensive and oversight lax, oil companies find it more profitable to patch up holes and pour sand on spills — or do nothing at all — than invest in quality infrastructure and comprehensive cleanups, according to activists.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/05/the-town-that-reveals-how-russia-spills-two-deepwater-horizons-of-oil-each-year

    Reply
    • Syd Bridges

       /  August 6, 2016

      I don’t suppose all that oil entering the Arctic Ocean has a beneficial effect on the Arctic ice, or its wildlife for that matter.

      Reply
  1. Climate Change May be Readying to Split the Heavens over the U.S. Southeast — So What Can We Do? | robertscribbler

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