From Maryland to the Caribbean to Asia, Record-Hot Ocean Waters Give Extreme Weather Potentials a Big Boost

The forecasts began coming in this morning: Heavy rainfall expected over the next two days. Possible flash flooding. Turn around, don’t drown.

These advisories buzzed up from local news media for the DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia metro areas as a crazy, wavy Jet Stream spawned an upper-level low that’s predicted to gorge on an insane amount of moisture spewing up off the record-hot Atlantic Ocean.

Forecast GFS model guidance shows an upper-level low-pressure system situated over the Great Lakes region in association with a big trough dipping down from the Arctic. Over the next 24 to 48 hours, the low is expected to shift south and east. Becoming cut off from the upper-level flow, the low is then predicted to set up a persistent rainfall pattern over DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.

noaa-extreme-rainfall-dc-metro-area

(NOAA’s precipitation forecast model shows extreme rainfall predicted for the DC area over the next seven days. Note that record global heat and, in particular, excessively hot sea-surface temperature anomalies off the U.S. east coast are providing an unprecedented amount of fuel for storms. Should such storms fire off, they could produce rainfall totals in excess of those currently predicted. Image source: NOAA.)

Easterly winds are expected to be drawn into the low from a record-hot Atlantic Ocean. These winds will bear upon them an extraordinary burden of atmospheric moisture which has been continuously evaporating up from a very warm Gulf Stream. Such moisture is fuel for powerful rainstorms. Given the destabilizing kick provided by the upper-level low, it is expected to deliver some pretty intense downpours on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

NOAA model guidance shows rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches over the area for the next five days. However, given the high atmospheric moisture content and the record atmospheric and ocean heat that’s spiking storm energy potentials, there is a possibility for locally higher amounts.

Extreme Ocean Heat Contributes to Severe Weather

As the DC area prepares for what could be another record or near-record rainfall event, various other regions over the Atlantic and on the other side of the world are also facing the possibility of intense weather. Very warm sea-surface temperatures are the common thread that links all these events.

atlantic-ocean-heat

(Hot sea surfaces are loading up the atmosphere with moisture and helping to produce convective updrafts that heighten storm tops. Such are the results of climate change, which has now dumped an extraordinary amount of heat energy into the Earth’s ocean and atmosphere — energy that now provides fuel for both extreme rainfall events and more-intense hurricanes. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

In the Atlantic Ocean, just off Maryland and DC, sea-surface temperatures running at an amazing 5.7 degrees Celsius above average are helping fuel this week’s possible extreme rainfall event. For reference, ocean temperatures over the course of the 20th century tended to range between 2 C above average to 2 C below average. Any deviation beyond a 2 C departure for any significant length of time was considered pretty out of the ordinary. But off the U.S. east coast over the past couple of years and concurrent with record-hot global temperatures, sea surfaces have regularly hit such high ranges. The heat bleeding off those waters has contributed to a growing number of intense precipitation events.

Possible Strong Cyclone to Form in Caribbean, Track Toward U.S. Coast

Farther south, the Caribbean is also quite hot. Ranging from 1-2 C above average, this region of warmer-than-normal ocean water is about to receive a strong tropical wave running in from the east. Over the next week, this wave is expected to gorge on these hot waters, firing off intense thunderstorms with rising tops around a tightening center of circulation, and developing into a tropical cyclone that could reach hurricane strength by late this week or early next week. Long-range model runs predict all kinds of possible rough weather related to this potential storm for the U.S. east or Gulf coasts or even for the Canadian Maritimes.

florida-hurricane-october-7-ecmwf

(Most recent ECMWF model run shows an extremely powerful 938-millibar hurricane threatening southeast Florida on October 7. If such a storm does form, it will be fueled by hotter-than-normal ocean conditions brought about by human-caused climate change. Image source: Tropical Tidbits.)

One of the most accurate forecast models, the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), is pointing toward the possibility of a major hurricane of 938-mb intensity threatening the southeast coast of Florida by October 7. Though such long-range forecasts are highly uncertain so far out, the underlying models are obviously picking up on the potential energy provided by all that ocean heat. The result is a kind of climate roulette — with a few extra bullets in the chambers. In other words, with all that ocean heat laying around, the potential for a big storm is just sitting there, waiting for something big to come along and suck it up. This ongoing, worsening situation could result in some serious added weather consequences over the next ten days or so.

Megi is Third Tropical Cyclone to Impact Taiwan

All across the world this year, big rainfall and related storm events have been popping up. Louisiana alone saw two 30-inch plus rainfall events while nearby Texas got hit again and again and again. This week, major floods in Iowa spurred officials to urge thousands to evacuate. Meanwhile, the recent Ellicott City, Maryland flood has people in the DC area on edge over this week’s potential for very heavy rainfall.

Half a world away today, Typhoon Megi roared ashore in Taiwan as a Category 4 tropical cyclone with top sustained winds of 132 miles per hour. Knocking out power for 3 million people across the island, the storm is now reported to have resulted in 250 injuries and the loss of 4 lives. Meanwhile, as much as 36 inches of rain has fallen over parts of the island.

It’s worth noting that rainfall hasn’t stopped over Taiwan yet, even as the massive circulation of Megi plows toward China — which is likely to receive heavy rainfall from the storm as well.

Like the possible extreme weather events related to very-hot surface waters in the North Atlantic and Caribbean, Megi formed over waters that are 1-3 C hotter than normal. But what’s a bit odd about Megi is that she followed almost in the exact tracks of two other cyclones — one which brushed by just to the north of Taiwan, and another which skirted the island’s south side. Typically, upwelling of cooler waters caused by hurricanes and tropical storms is enough to prevent an immediate follow-on by powerful systems, due to the fact that surface waters tend to be warmer than waters below the surface. But Megi followed these two systems and was able to tap enough ocean heat to reach Category 4 intensity even as it supported a massive outflow.

typhoon-megi-crosses-taiwan

(Typhoon Megi dwarfs Taiwan. Image source: Earth Observatory.)

How did this happen? Well, considering the fact that ocean surfaces in Megi’s path are still 1-2 C hotter than normal, it’s likely that the waters at depth were also much warmer than usual, meaning storm-related upwelling wasn’t able to limit the strength of follow-on storms. This possible new feature of the Western Pacific raises the strange potential for regions to be hit by a train of tropical storms and cyclones, as happened with Taiwan over the past couple of weeks.

Conditions in Context — Record-Hot Ocean, Atmosphere Fuels More Severe Storms

The common link between the forthcoming potential severe weather along the U.S. east coast and the intensity of Typhoon Megi upon following behind two other storms is increased ocean heat. Such heat acts as a kind of energy and moisture engine for more, and more powerful, storms, such as the aforementioned extreme rainfall events and powerful, peak-intensity cyclones. In short, these are aspects of a world undergoing fundamental climate shifts — shifts that continue to ramp up due to the great and ongoing emission of greenhouse gasses into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Links:

Heavy Rain, Flood Threat

GFS Model Guidance by Earth Nullschool

NOAA

Tropical Tidbits

Typhoon Megi Smashes into Taiwan on Path to China

Typhoon Megi Passes Taiwan

Thousands Urged to Evacuate Iowa Floods, Megi’s Threat to Taiwan Escalates

Scientific Hat tip to Dr. Jeff Masters

Hat tip to DT Lange

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Leave a comment

114 Comments

  1. coloradobob

     /  September 27, 2016

    Bingo

    Reply
    • Well, seems this one struck a bit of a nerve. More of a classic RS post. Of course, things are a bit more advanced here than when we started 4 years ago. Amazing how much things have changed. Back then, outlier events were tougher to find. Back then, Watts accused me of ambulance chasing. Well, don’t have to go far now. Lights and sirens flickering in the backyard. Seems like the ambulance is chasing us instead.

      Reply
      • We all need to check in with any rightwing/denialist acquaintances who live in the areas that get hammered by the “outlier” events. As the frequency of outlier events increases, it will be more apparent that outliers are the new normal. We don’t need to say “told you so” cuz it doesn’t help, but I think we should reach out and help science and reality overcome ideology and squeeze into a little space alongside irrational belief systems.

        There is some hope for change when rightwingers get reasonably worried about climate change. They will have to clear the hurdle about the facts/causes of climate change and some will never manage that modest feat, but many will and we need to encourage that growth in understanding.

        Warm regards

        Mike

        Reply
        • Well said, Mike. Denial was inevitable, especially when faced with something so weird and all-encompassing as climate change. A natural psychological response that basically happens everywhere. So the people you and I meet who have these reactions are not really the problem.

          That said, it’s pretty clear that fossil fuel industry special interests have done their utmost to exploit this natural response in an effort to delay climate action. But it’s essential to separate what is an aspect of our frailty in the face of a difficult to face crisis from cynical corporate attempts to exploit that frailty for short term profit and the extension of a harmful status quo.

          I’m pretty sure all of us have friends, relatives, neighbors, coworkers who have adopted a denial stance. But I think the best watchword when it comes to these is kind assertiveness. We can say our views to them with dignity and compassion all while understanding that their own reactions are coming from a deeper fear or a heartfelt wish to cling to the familiar. We should not enable denial. We should confront it, but with every possible decency.

          As for the corporate and political entities that support the exploitation of denial for personal gain — these entities do not deserve the same level of respect. These entities are engaging in an amoral activity that is destructive to human civilization, the natural world, and harmful to a growing number of individual human beings and creatures living on the Earth. Since laws in a just civilization are designed to protect both that civilization and its constituents from harm, there is precedent for finding these entities guilty of a heinous kind of fraud and negligence. Meanwhile, given the brazen nature of the climate change denial advertising and media campaigns, intent to perpetrate harm for profit cannot be ruled out.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain

         /  September 29, 2016

        And Watts runs the ambulances off the road, then interferes with the victims. And Lomborg tells them to buck up and worry about their insurance instead.

        Reply
  2. coloradobob

     /  September 28, 2016

    The result is a kind of climate roulette ,

    Amen

    Reply
  3. climatehawk1

     /  September 28, 2016

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  4. coloradobob

     /  September 28, 2016

    These storms don’t need numbers anymore. Which is wind speed. The rain component will will kill you just as fast.

    Reply
    • The rains are starting here. Nearby Seneca Creek under a flood watch.

      Reply
      • Loni

         /  September 28, 2016

        Robert, I have a feeling that you were reporting on this storm potential while watching it build. I hope you and yours are safe.

        Great post, thank you for your diligence.

        Reply
        • Thanks for the kind thoughts, Loni. Will be careful.

          We just had some powerful lightning strikes nearby. Rain is off and on at the moment. Looking at the radar, the precip is still a bit spotty but with powerful cells embedded. Lots of energy for 2 PM.

  5. coloradobob

     /  September 28, 2016

    We reached a change . It’s not wind anymore , it’s water . See disaster in La.. For as long as I can remember the models said fewer , but bigger storms.

    Well here we are. These small storms are eating us up.

    Reply
  6. coloradobob

     /  September 28, 2016

    Reply
  7. coloradobob

     /  September 28, 2016

    Now the time has come. .

    Reply
  8. Jay M

     /  September 28, 2016

    it is sort of like water saturation and then drop– concern being drop on inhabited land masses
    then the variations, thunder, hail, wind …
    topography and rainfall channel the rainfall
    glacial outburst will then take everybody by surprise

    Reply
  9. coloradobob

     /  September 28, 2016

    Hell comes to breakfast.

    No matter where you are, no matter what you do. Please, get ready. .

    Reply
  10. Dan in Oz

     /  September 28, 2016

    It’s worth noting that Australia is having odd weather too.

    A low pressure system bottoming out at 976mb is virtually on the south coast of Australia, which sits at about 35 degrees south. This is a cold weather storm, yet it’s moving and intensifying at such high latitudes is quite odd. It’s like a North Atlantic storm moving and intensifying along the North African coast, or the Carolinas.

    Another odd thing is that the oceans around south and western Australia are cooler than average, which confuses me as I thought the storms would be feeding off warmer waters.

    Either way, Australia, particularly south and western Australia, is experiencing stormier and colder weather this southern hemisphere summer/spring – with September on course to be the coldest in SW Australia for at least 20 years.

    Reply
    • Dan in Oz

       /  September 28, 2016

      Sorry – that’ll teach me to post something when I’m at work! I meant to say southern hemisphere winter/spring. And excuse the typos!

      Reply
    • Tropical systems require water of a certain temperature — usually around 75 F +. Other kinds of storms require lift in the atmosphere and generally a difference in temperature. Look up baroclynic storms if you want to get more in depth. Rising heat and moisture content in the atmosphere adds potential energy. But you still need lift and instability.

      Reply
      • Thanks for explaining these things, Robert.
        Your willingness to share your knowledge is a very positive trait.
        I subscribe to the same manner — though it can be tough when others reject valuable survival type input.
        Cheers and TALLY HO.
        DT

        Reply
      • I thank you, too, Robert. I don’t post here much these days but I’d like to ask a question: have baroclynic storms ever turned into tropical systems? Cause I one’s about to!

        Reply
        • Cause I think one’s about to!

          Ugh. I should never do this when distracted.

        • Yes. Sometimes cold-core storms will go tropical and vice versa.

        • To be clear, the intensity of a storm is not a measure of its tropical origin. It’s how it manages its energy. Tropical systems are warm core and derive their energy primarily from heat at the ocean surface. Other systems tend to be cold core or hybrid core and derive their energy from differences between warm and cold.

    • Reply
  11. coloradobob

     /  September 28, 2016

    Skin it ………………….

    Reply
  12. Cate

     /  September 28, 2016

    Meanwhile in Canada, Justin Trudeau insists that we can have our cake and eat it too.

    “Environment Minister Catherine McKenna today announced that the federal government has approved the Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas project in British Columbia.”

    Shame on Trudeau. Shame on Canada.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/pacific-northwest-lng-project-1.3780758

    Reply
    • Perhaps the Danish government could give him a tip or two about real climate change mitigation?

      Reply
    • 🙂 Pardon the coarseness but — his mom was the only one in the family with any real ‘balls’.
      In my opinion…

      Reply
      • Shawn Redmond

         /  September 28, 2016

        The ICC may find itself overloaded very soon.
        http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37747-the-international-criminal-court-will-start-prosecuting-people-who-commit-crimes-against-the-environment
        “The International Criminal Court, or ICC, has already shown a willingness to apply its laws to situations involving environmental destruction. Between 2009 and 2010, then-prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo successfully obtained arrest warrants from the court against the president of Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir, for acts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among other acts, these alleged crimes involved the contamination of wells and water pumps in Darfur to target and destroy certain groups of people. Al-Bashir’s trial has not yet commenced as he continues to evade arrest.”
        I wonder if things like the tar sands would apply? Or any mining operation for that matter.

        Reply
        • Cate

           /  September 28, 2016

          I’m finally getting around to reading Dr Hansen’s book–highly recommended. And it is all panning out as he predicted, in particular the inertia of politicians and their failure to act. He suggests that since the administrative and legislative arms of govt will not act, the people should turn to the judicial system in order to wrest power back from govts dominated by special interests. Someone certainly needs to take the Canadian govt to court over this outrageous pipeline decision, in the name of our children and of the planet.

      • Cate

         /  September 28, 2016

        dt, I’m going to respectfully disagree with you on that one. Maggie T was—and still is—-famous for her flakiness. Pierre was a Jesuit-trained genius. More’s the pity for Canada that JT has clearly inherited most of his mother’s silliness and very little of his father’s sense.

        Reply
        • Yes, Pierre Trudeau was a polarizing force to say the least, but he didn’t lack for either brainpower or decisiveness.

        • RE Storms — prophetic, a work of real genius. Sorry to see that a good number of people haven’t read it. Hansen, in broad brush, painted an accurate picture of the systemic inertia we face and gave us a good list of tools for how to confront it. In the end, I think he’ll also be right on climate sensitivity (5-6 C per doubling of CO2 long term). Worth noting that the Venus Syndrome doesn’t appear possible here on Earth, but we could get close enough with a wet stratosphere (per Hansen’s later findings). In any case, the things we tend to look at here — severe weather destabilization, loss of seasonality, rising sea levels, mass migration, threats to food and water, initiation of climate change related mass extinction events — all happen well before any such worst-case scenario. In other words, pretty much all advanced life on Earth would be long gone before we reached a wet stratosphere type end state that could well be produced by burning all the fossil fuels.

          If you wish, you can read his later work here: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/

          It’s worth noting that Hansen is a long-time advocate of nuclear energy and has been somewhat critical of renewables. Over time, this view has become less tenable due to the rapid cost reductions in renewable energy systems and due to failure by policymakers, engineers, and business leaders to design safe, economic nuclear reactors that, if mass produced, would not pose a proliferation or toxic waste risk. And it’s possible that such designs aren’t technically achievable given our current knowledge. France, for example, certainly tried. And the Hinkley Point power plant in the UK is now running at 5 times the cost of a new solar plant. China’s ‘rapid build’ plants won’t achieve anywhere near the GW capacity of its rapid build out in renewables — primarily due to these technical and safety constraints. All these issues have led many analysts to conclude that nuclear energy does not have a positive learning curve — meaning that scaling does not significantly reduce costs along the lines of typical economies of scale.

          Finally, Hansen’s push for a carbon tax/fee is spot-on. Such a fee would make all non-carbon power sources more economical, more competitive with base fossil fuels by adding in the high external cost of fossil fuel burning. This level would produce a rapid transition away from fossil fuels while incentivizing the best sources of clean energy. This larger point is far more important than the nuclear discussion and we’d pretty quickly find out which energy sources were best suited for achieving a rapid decarbonization under the carbon fee/tax regime that Hansen rightly advocates.

        • Jeremy in Wales

           /  September 28, 2016

          While I am no fan of Hinckley Point the UK Gov has a problem. If you close all the coal plants down solar plants in the middle of winter are not much help unless you have well developed storage networks. They maybe coming but are not here now, I do not want pumped storage schemes in every mountain valley and the battery technology is not yet widespread.
          The trouble with carbon fuel taxes is that it penalises those who do not have the capital to invest ,or time to borrow and repay, in the latest technology. The Uk has had fuel taxes, petrol duty and VAT for years and it reduces my ability to invest.
          Personally I would suggest nationalising power generation, closing carbon plants and investing in renewables. nuclear, storage and efficiency improvements, with the phasing out of ICE vehicles. If we need to act quickly market forces will not deliver.
          I realise socialism is a dirty word in the USA but you manage on socialist roads and with socialist fire services, it is a tool to deliver a required outcome.

        • Good points, Jeremy. However, numerous studies have shown that intermittency can be mitigated both by adding storage, by smartening up the grid, and by increasing the size of the renewable energy pool. It looks to me like there’s already a healthy renewable energy trade starting to develop between the UK and mainland Europe.

          Also, it’s worth noting that Hansen’s proposal was for a carbon fee + dividend. In other words, it would effectively transfer monies into more hands while preferentially enabling them to invest in clean energy.

          Nationalization may be necessary, though. And we’re closer to that now than we’ve been in years past.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  September 29, 2016

      Your Obama, Cate. Ours, Turnbull, is a very poor simulacrum. No charisma at all. Rich as Croesus, however.

      Reply
  13. coloradobob

     /  September 28, 2016

    ” i have two guns, one for each of ya. “

    Reply
  14. coloradobob

     /  September 28, 2016

    “I’m your huckleberry”

    Reply
    • coloradobob

       /  September 28, 2016

      The next time he attacks her, she comes with “I’m your huckleberry”.

      Reply
  15. Runaway train never goin back
    Wrong way on a one-way track
    Seems like we should be gettin’ somewhere
    Somehow it’s neither here nor there

    Can ya help me remember how to smile?
    Make it somehow all seem worthwhile
    How on earth did I get so jaded?
    Life’s mysteries seem so faded

    We’ll go where NO denier goes
    They’ll claim science never knows
    Here we are justa’ drownin’ in the rain
    With a ticket for a runaway train

    – Hope ‘Soul Asylum’ sings this version

    Reply
  16. wili

     /  September 28, 2016

    Perhaps this is a moment to pause and reflect a bit on where we’ve been, where we are and where we seem to be going?

    “The World Passes 400 PPM Threshold. Permanently”

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/world-passes-400-ppm-threshold-permanently-20738

    Reply
    • Reply
      • This is not a reply to wili’s 400 ppm post.

        Reply
      • Matthew just formed as of 2 PM EST. It’s already a 50 mph storm with a very large circulation. This will probably be a news item for many days to follow. Significant potential risks for this system considering both the abnormally warm waters along its path as well as the crazy Jet Stream to the north.

        Reply
      • Jay M

         /  September 29, 2016

        really looks like a footprint
        let’s all get along

        Reply
    • Actually, I suspect 350 was the bigger milestone – but we slipped by that one very quietly.
      Just rolling along faster and faster on the highway to …?

      Reply
    • Thanks, wili.
      I just wish that I were surprised.
      I really do.
      Peace

      Reply
    • Cate

       /  September 28, 2016

      400ppm—a grim milestone and a terrible legacy.

      Superb post, Robert, and yes, classic RS indeed.🙂

      Reply
      • Abel Adamski

         /  September 28, 2016

        Re methane , one of the unexpected feedbacks. Though not presented as such in the report or article.
        http://www.azocleantech.com/news.aspx?newsID=23725
        New research published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, reveals that recent rises in the atmospheric methane levels are probably driven by biological sources, such as cow burps, rice fields, or swamp gas, rather than emissions from fossil fuels.

        ” Our results go against conventional thinking that the recent increase in atmospheric methane must be caused by increased emissions from natural gas, oil, and coal production. Our analysis of methane’s isotopic composition clearly points to increased emissions from microbial sources, such as wetlands or agriculture.

        Euan Nisbet, University of London”.

        All that intense rain events and flooding means copious quantities of wet dead biomass that being wet, as it decays produces CH4 rather than CO2.
        Plus of course the melting permafrost, that recent article highlights that grasses and plants are a conduit for CH4 in a melting permafrost environment, unexpected as we have not had the opportunity to discover this property previously.

        Expect the unexpected

        Reply
    • Looks like September may track closer to 401 ppm than 400.5… This makes November of 2015 the last month where we saw a measure below 400. Likely the last such month any of us will see in our lifetimes. To put this into context, the last time the world saw CO2 levels this high was about 3 million years ago. The last time the world saw greenhouse gas forcing this high (including methane, NOx and other gasses) was likely about 15 million years ago. In the climate sense, we’re crossing into deep time.

      Reply
  17. Reply
  18. 05:28 UTC

    Reply
  19. – Some of the language and arguments used in court.
    – NYT 09/27

    Appeals Court Hears Challenge to Obama’s Climate Change Rules

    WASHINGTON — The nation’s second-most powerful court grappled Tuesday with the intractable and potentially catastrophic problem of climate change, weighing whether constitutional questions surrounding President Obama’s climate change regulations should trump the moral obligations of upholding a plan to curb global warming.

    “The policy is laudable,” said Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a George W. Bush appointee. “The earth is warming. Humans are contributing. I understand the international impact and the problem of the commons. The pope’s involved. And I understand the frustration with Congress.”

    But, he said: “If Congress does this, they can account for the people who lose their jobs. If we do this, we can’t.

    “This is a huge case,” Judge Kavanaugh said. “It has huge economic and political consequences. This has huge international consequences.”

    But opponents, led by West Virginia’s solicitor general, Elbert Lin, described a regulation with a scope that far exceeds the intent of the law in an effort to transform the nation’s electricity system.

    “The E.P.A. has invoked a little-used provision in the Clean Air Act and used it to justify creation of a new energy economy,” Mr. Lin told the judges.

    The Environmental Protection Agency relied on an obscure provision of the Clean Air Act, Section 111 (d), last year to put forth an aggressive rule aimed at cutting planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/us/politics/appeals-court-hears-challenge-to-obamas-climate-change-rules.html?_r=0

    Reply
  20. – FYI — methane

    Floods and farms fuel jump in methane emissions, researchers find

    BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — A sharp increase in methane, a potent greenhouse gas, in the Earth’s atmosphere since 2007 is the result of higher emissions from biological sources such as rice paddies, cattle and swamps rather than fossil fuels, researchers said on Tuesday.

    Methane traps heat, contributing to global warming. In 2014 the growth rate of methane in the atmosphere was double that of previous years, with emissions rising particularly in the tropics, according to a study led by U.K.-based Royal Holloway, University of London.

    “Our results go against conventional thinking that the recent increase in atmospheric methane must be caused by increased emissions from natural gas, oil and coal production,” said lead author Euan Nisbet. “Our analysis of methane’s isotopic composition clearly points to increased emissions from microbial sources, such as wetlands or agriculture.”
    http://www.humanosphere.org/environment/2016/09/floods-farms-fuel-jump-methane-emissions-researchers-find/

    Reply
    • Greg

       /  September 28, 2016

      The irony that Elon Musk today announced the future colonization of Mars program for SpaceX and the fuel to mine in order to return to Earth? Methane

      Reply
      • methane makes a better fuel than ghg, but still loads up the CO2 sats in the long run.

        Reply
        • First, Elon is doing the right thing by trying to go really big with his launch system. Scaling reduces the cost by weight to launch into space and going really large would make it comparatively cheaper to heft very large spacecraft into orbit. The problem is that, as with much of Elon’s past work, he’s trying to do something that’s never been done before and that represents significant hurdles. Simultaneously managing tens of rocket engines represents a pretty big technical hurdle, for example. It could be done with new software. But it’s not likely to be easy to achieve.

          Second, the 10 billion dollar price tag for something like this is likely far too low. Putting up a one-shot rocket that can place 550 tons into Earth orbit or even deep space might, possibly, be manageable for 10 billion if everything goes right and if all the new technical hurdles are crossed. But managing a program capable of launching multiple systems of this size is a tens to hundreds of billions of dollars endeavor.

          Third, Elon will need funding from multiple nations to even attempt this venture. In essence he’s playing a venture capital game with the countries of the world. He’s pitching this big spacecraft and hoping that whole governments will ante up to what amounts to a high risk endeavor that has no guarantee of success.

          Fourth, risk of loss of life for the 100 people who may ride on this thing could be quite high, especially if resources are not devoted to life support and backup safety systems — which are costly.

          Fifth, Elon has vision here where others have not. He’s dared to dream big. This is partly achievable because he doesn’t have too much to lose. He’s asking nations to trust him that he’s capable of achieving this feat and to put taxpayer money on the order of tens of billions or hundreds of billions into his hands. So the onus of risk is on the country that invests in his plan. That said, as with all things Elon, this big thrust is likely to develop a competitive response from the various national space programs. People will ask — if a billionaire might do this, then why not a state or a nation? Have we been too conservative in our development of space exploration technology? What more could we do? NASA, in particular, might view Elon’s proposal with a degree of consternation — seeing him as an upstart who’s basically hi-jacking public support for their own Mars program with little more than a big global sales pitch.

          Elon, who tends to push the envelope has really taken the cake on this one. The big question here is what nation or nations would be willing to spend vast amounts of money and treasure on what is currently a paper space program with no guarantee or track record of actual success on any scale comparable to the extremely ambitious goals proposed.

        • Greg

           /  September 28, 2016

          Great analysis here Robert. My wife pointed out to me that if it were not for Elon our son would not be thinking big like we all did a generation ago. He’s 12 now and interested in physics and wants to “solve” climate change issues so he can be focused on space where the future lies. We need to think big and thoughtfully. This may be our last hurrah for a long long time.

  21. Greg

     /  September 28, 2016

    No worries here. Move right along. Poverty, Sea level, rapid urbanization all in one place. Lagos.

    Reply
  22. Greg

     /  September 28, 2016

    Dust storm Phoenix from the air tonight. These seem to be more and more common

    Reply
  23. Greg

     /  September 28, 2016

    And another shelf cloud, this one in Mexico today. Time lapse

    Reply
  24. Shawn Redmond

     /  September 28, 2016

    And backwards we go again. The nuclear part of the equation is never properly costed. Containment, clean up and disposal drives this thing to unmanageable heights. Never mind the inevitable; Three mile island, chernobyl, fukushima. If we build it, it will break! at times catastrophically, add pipe lines and oil rigs to the above. Our hubris and folly know no bounds.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-electricity-plans-1.3780440
    Ontario’s Liberal government took steps Tuesday to take some pressure off of rising electricity rates, cancelling plans to sign contracts for up to 1,000 megawatts of power from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.

    Reply
    • wili

       /  September 28, 2016

      Well put. Nuclear proponents seem to assume that human (not to mention natural and CC) history will stop–that human folly, greed, corruption, insurrection, violence, incompetence, malfeasance, revolution, war, collapse…all the things we see over and over in the long history of humanity, all of these will be magically banished. Even without these inevitables of human existence, with a perfect performance of never having any spills, meltdowns, uncontrolled releases…throughout the lifetime of a nuke plant, the decommissioning of the plant and long term safe disposal of fuel rods and other contaminated material poses problems no one has yet figured out how to deal with.

      But in the real world, the elements listed above and the collapse the GW and financial shenanigans are bringing on will mean that every single nuke plant on the planet is quite likely to go Fuku or worse.

      Reply
      • Shawn Redmond

         /  September 28, 2016

        Agreed Wili, just watched an english Al Jazeera news cast about Fuku and the workers being interviewed saying that the one reactor, #4 I believe, has yet to be assessed. No one has any idea where the core is or what to do with it should they find a way in. The technology required to deal with it has yet to be invented! Looking at the geology of the region I can make a fair assessment of where most of the radiation is. Built on porous bed rock with what amounts to an underground river following underneath out into the Pacific. Five plus years of a piece of the sun burning its way down… hmmm.

        Reply
        • wili

           /  September 28, 2016

          Yes. And don’t forget that Chernobyl is only as stable as it is because they built a giant shell around it, and then an even more giant shell around that. As collapse proceeds, how often will resources and coordination…be available to engage in such massive projects?

        • I usually ask the nuke enthusiasts to simply clean up one accident site to a point where they will live there before they build more accidents-in-waiting. I am thinking of Hanford, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fuku. Just prove you can clean it up when it goes wrong. Is that asking too much?

        • Greg

           /  September 28, 2016

          Los Alamos Lab, with its nuclear history, ironically has some of the world’s greatest climate computer modeling power owing to its need to model nuclear weapons and stockpiles. It’s showing us what the Antarctic is doing which is critical to understanding the world’s weather and oceans. This from its MPAS-Ocean Model:

        • Greg

           /  September 28, 2016

          This is what it takes to model that image above or Fukushima’s future.Trinity is a 42-petaflop supercomputer that resides at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

      • The funny thing about those nuclear accident sites (there´s always a silver lining) is that radiation effects different species very differently.

        For species with lifespans that are less than 30 years, while radiation causes deaths and mutations, those aren´t enough to hamper the species (not the individuals, the species). Deleterious mutations cause fast deaths and are soon removed from the gene pool, cancers affect animals after they´ve reproduced, and while individuals may suffer, that suffering harms the ecossystem less than human influence does. Enough for pretty dramatic results : http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/chernobyl-wildlife-make-a-comeback-despite-contamination/?WT.mc_id=SA_ENGYSUS_20151008

        For species with longer lifespans, though, nuclear accident areas are population drains. A being may live there, but it will die faster than it can reproduce, and that´ll destroy the species in larger timescales.

        Since lots of species have lifespans of less than 30 years, enough to guarantee a viable ecossystem, everytime I see someone advocating for the nuclear option I see two possible futures:

        Rosy-tinged-lenses – societal collapse doesn´t occur. Humans keep caring for current nuclear sites, and decomission those that are not needed anymore safely. Everything goes well.

        No-lenses – societal collapse occurs. Lots of nuclear facilities aren´t decomissioned properly. Lots of Chernobyl areas are formed. Human population in those areas is toast in 2-3 generations, even if the areas aren´t evacuated. Short-lived animals keep living in those areas, protected from humans because even those few survivors from other areas talk about the “barren cursed fields of doom”. Deleterious mutations result in deaths, but beneficial mutations occur too, and those animals living in that king of area speciate faster. Evolution makes the ecossystem heal, without the human cancer. Resulting ecossystem is awful for humans, but okay for most other species.

        I´ll miss the turtles.

        Reply
    • Mulga Mumblebrain

       /  September 29, 2016

      Shawn, the Anglosphere countries are the worst climate destabilisation criminals of all. Renewable energy is HATED by the Right here in Australia, and climate destabilisation denial just reaches new heights of lunacy, seemingly every day.

      Reply
  25. Spike

     /  September 28, 2016

    Rising greenhouse gases and ozone depletion over the Antarctic are increasingly pushing rain-bearing storm fronts away from Australia’s west and south, according to a new international study.

    Dr Abram said the loss of rain combined with “2016 being on track to smash the hottest-year record was ominous for communities and the environment”.

    “Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are remote but this region influences Australia’s heatwaves, affects whether our crops get the winter rainfall they need and determines how quickly our ocean levels rise,” she said.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-28/australia-loses-vital-rain-as-climate-change-shifts-winds/7886546

    Reply
  26. Shawn Redmond

     /  September 28, 2016

    Just incase you are growing weary of dog and pony show that is the US election.
    “The Nuremberg War Criminal Tribunal convicted 24 of the I.G. Farben executives for mass murder, slavery and other crimes against humanity; however, in less than 7 years, every single murderer was released, and began consulting American corporations. From 1950 to 1980, Bayer, BASF, and Hoechst filled their highest position, Chairman of the Board, with convicted mass murderers. Fritz ter Meer, convicted of mass murder, served just 5 prison years, then “conveniently” became the chairman of Bayer’s supervisory board. Kurt Blome, who admitted to killing Jews with “gruesome experiments,” was hired in 1951 by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps to work on chemical warfare. Today, these companies send lobbyists to Washington D.C. with millions (if not billions) of dollars to influence regulatory decisions made by the FDA and the CDC. These companies today are more powerful in and of themselves than I.G. Farben ever was during WWII.”
    http://wakeup-world.com/2016/09/26/big-pharma-biotech-mergers-consolidating-the-synthetic-reality-agenda/?utm_campaign=Wake+Up+World+e-Newsletter&utm_content=Latest+Headlines+inc.+Big+Pharma-Big+Agra+Mergers%3A+Furthering+the+Synthetic+Agenda&utm_medium=email&utm_source=getresponse

    Reply
  27. June

     /  September 28, 2016

    Global Warming Trend Warms the U.S. West, Leaves East Shivering

    Weather dichotomy, which leaves two halves of the U.S. in opposite extremes, is a trend tied to climate change, new study says.

    https://insideclimatenews.org/news/27092016/global-warming-trend-warms-only-us-west-leaves-east-shivering

    Reply
  28. We [Grist] asked young voters why they don’t see a big difference between Clinton and Trump on climate

    http://grist.org/election-2016/we-asked-young-voters-why-they-dont-see-a-big-difference-between-clinton-and-trump-on-climate/

    Reply
    • They’ve been successfully misinformed and, apparently, are vulnerable to cynical views and arguments appealing to false equivalency. Not to say that’s not the case with the electorate overall. And, in fact, the ability to hold two seemingly opposite views in mind is a feat less and less people appear to be capable of achieving these days.

      Clinton, though certainly not the perfect climate candidate, represents a stark difference from Trump on climate policies. She’s light years ahead of him on this issue. An issue that impacts younger voters to a far greater degree than the rest of us. But one that we should all now be very concerned about.

      Reply
  29. Greg

     /  September 28, 2016

    Chimney smoke and engine rumble will soon become an old seafarer’s tale on HH Ferries’ two largest ferries operating on the Elsinore-Helsingborg route, which will be fully converted to battery operation next year.The ferries ‘Tycho Brahe’ and ‘Aurora’ are now diesel-electric, and the diesel engines from Wärtsilä will remain as a backup. HH Ferries is the first shipping company in the world to introduce full battery operation on ferries as large as Tycho Brahe and Aurora, which can accommodate 1,100 and 1,250 passengers and 240 cars respectively, while sailing around the clock.

    Reply
  30. Earth Nullschool screenshot. CO instantaneous level of 5527 in the fires north of Lake Baikal.
    https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/chem/surface/level/overlay=cosc/orthographic=105.71,60.19,810/loc=106.104,57.676

    Reply
  31. Reply
    • Greg

       /  September 28, 2016

      DT, your battle against leaf blowers maybe over. Even deer are taking to them. Suggest modifying and at leastaccepting electric ones.

      Reply
  32. Scientists on the feasibility of the 1.5C climate change limit – Part 2

    …from the recent Oxford conference:

    Reply
  33. Abel Adamski

     /  September 28, 2016

    http://gizmodo.com/new-wind-turbines-could-power-japan-for-50-years-after-1787191781

    Typhoons are generally associated with mass destruction, but a Japanese engineer has developed a wind turbine that can harness the tremendous power of these storms and turn it into useful energy. If he’s right, a single typhoon could power Japan for 50 years.

    Atsushi Shimizu is the inventor of the world’s first typhoon turbine—an extremely durable, eggbeater-shaped device that can not only withstand the awesome forces generated by a typhoon, it can convert all that power into useable energy. Shimizu’s calculations show that a sufficiently large array of his turbines could capture enough energy from a single typhoon to power Japan for 50 years.

    The US Conservatives are allowing others to eat their lunch whilst hell eats their breakfast

    Reply
    • Pretty amazing potential here if they’re able to achieve it. Of course, storing all that energy might pose a challenge. But heck, you could pump salt water uphill and underground.

      Reply
  34. Mark from OZ

     /  September 28, 2016

    Gnarly weather in Adelaide, So Australia.
    ‘Code Black’
    Wind at >140kph, golf ball hail, >80,000 lighting strikes,22 elec transmission towers pulled form Earth.100 mm (~ 4″) of rain and not through yet.

    Cool thing is that ~40% of state power is wind produced. Uncool thing is that the coal burners are already ‘blaming’ ‘renewable’ sector for the ‘blackout’. The days of towering ‘towers’ look to be over. Will need a subterranean supply grid with weather like this.

    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/wild-weather-peaks-as-lightning-explodes-tree-damages-car-in-myrtle-bank/news-story/448e87235e1aeb1c52c912c59c7fc335

    Reply
  35. OT, but on July 17th a massive glacier tongue in Tibet has sheered off its mountainside and collapsed, utterly. There is nothing left.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/9/16/1570665/-Massive-100-foot-thick-glacier-tongue-collapses-and-covers-4-square-miles-with-rock-and-ice

    Reply

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