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Climate Change Related Extreme Weather Rocks World, Weird Major Hurricane Forms East of Bermuda, Cyclone Energy Closing in on Records

Around the world, the litany of climate change related extreme weather events reached an extraordinary tempo over the past week. And it is becoming difficult for even climate change deniers to ignore what is increasingly obvious. The weather on planet Earth is getting worse. And human-caused global warming is, in vast majority, to blame…

Climate Change Related Extreme Weather Spans Globe

(Climate and Extreme Weather Events for September 17 through 24.)

Puerto Rico is still knocked out a week after Maria roared through. With Trump basically ignoring this worst in class blow by a hurricane ramped up by human-caused climate change, it will be a wonder if this territory of 3.4 million U.S. citizens ever fully recovers.

In other and far-flung parts, Brazil is experiencing an abnormally extreme dry season. Australia just experienced its hottest winter on record. In Teruel, Spain, thunderstorms forming in a much warmer than normal atmosphere dumped half a meter of hail. Antarctic sea ice is hitting record lows after being buffeted by warm winds on at least two sides. And in Guatemala, Mexico, Poland, the Congo, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India and Oklahoma, there have been extreme or record floods.

Weird Major Hurricane in Central Atlantic

More locally to the U.S., in the North Atlantic warmer than normal surface waters have fueled the odd development of hurricane Lee into a category 3 storm. It’s not really that strange for a major hurricane to develop in the Atlantic during September. It’s just that we’d tend to expect a storm of this kind to hit such high intensity in the Gulf of Mexico, or over the Gulf Stream, or in the Caribbean. Not at 30.6 N, 56.8 W in the Central North Atlantic south and east of Bermuda and strengthening from a weaker storm that was torn apart in the Inter-Tropical-Convergence-Zone, before drifting considerably to the north over what would typically be a less favorable environment.

But typical this present hurricane season is not. Maria, which is still a hurricane after ten days, is presently lashing coastal North Carolina with tropical storm force gusts as it moves ever so slowly to the north and east. With Irma lasting for 14 days, Jose lasting for 17, and Lee lasting for 13 so far, 2017 may well be the year of years for long duration, intense storms. Meanwhile, a disturbance to the south of Cuba shows a potential for developing into yet another tropical cyclone.

Closing in on Record Accumulated Cyclone Energy

(2017 Accumulated Cyclone Energy for the North Atlantic. Image source: Colorado State University.)

Storms lasting for so long and hitting such high intensity produce a lot of energy. And the primary measure we have for that expended energy is ACE or Accumulated Cyclone Energy. 2017 is bound to achieve one of the highest ACE measures for any Atlantic Hurricane Season. Since 1851, only 8 years have seen an ACE value hit above 200. Present 2017 ACE is at 194 and climbing. Highest ever ACE values were recorded in 2005, at 250, and 1933 at 259.

Individual storm ACE values are also impressive with 2017 presently showing 3 storms with an individual ACE higher than 40. Only 27 storms with a 40+ ACE value are ever recorded to have formed in the Atlantic. Irma, so far, is the highest ACE for 2017 at 66.6 — which is the second highest individual storm ACE ever for the Atlantic. Jose produced an ACE of 42.2 (24th) and Maria an ACE of 41.4 (26th).

If 2017 continues to produce strong, long-lasting storms over a record hot Atlantic, it is easily within striking distance of a record ACE year. The restrengthening of Lee to major hurricane status so far north and out in the Atlantic was yet one more surprise that shows how much energy the Atlantic is bleeding off this year. Such a tendency will likely continue through October but with storms probably not forming quite so frequently as during September and originating in regions closer to the Caribbean and U.S.

Links:

Puerto Ricans Waiting For Aid a Week After Maria’s Devastation

When Does it Rain Again in Brasil?

Hail Storm Causes Chaos in Teruel

Antarctic Sea Ice Hits Another Record Low

Colorado State University

The National Hurricane Center

2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Accumulated Cyclone Energy

Hat tip to Suzanne

Hat tip to Vic

Hat tip to Umbrios

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48 Comments

  1. Keith Antonysen

     /  September 27, 2017

    Democracy Now provides a scathing attack on how the disaster in Peurto Rico is being handled.
    https://www.democracynow.org/2017/9/26/puerto_ricans_call_for_aid_amid

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  2. And October may follow September’s lead.

    Yikes.

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    • October is generally less productive for hurricanes than September. We would not expect massive Cape Verde storms like Irma, for example. However, October can still be quite active. The most active Octobers have produced powerful Cat 4 and Cat 5 storms. So we’re definitely not out of the woods.

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  3. wpNSAlito

     /  September 27, 2017

    I feel compelled to point out to weather newbies that “Atlantic” sometimes refers to hurricanes that are in the Atlantic/Caribbean/GoM basin to distinguish them from hurricanes in the Eastern North Pacific (see nhc.noaa.gov ), as opposed to “hurricanes in the Atlantic” which refers to those in the Atlantic Ocean rather than the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico.

    It’s a source of great confusion when people are discussing hurricane stats.

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  4. wili

     /  September 27, 2017

    So I’ve been saying on this and other blogs that one likely reason for multiple long-lasting storms this year is that not only is the sea surface anomalously hot, but that it is hotter at deeper levels, so that hot water gets drawn up to replace surface waters as evaporation cools and further salinifies the surface waters.

    I’ve been saying this, but I’ve been too damn lazy to track down what the actual deeper water temps are this year. Does r or do others know what buoys and other measures have shown these temps to be in the relevant areas. Or maybe point me in the general direction to look if I finally get inspired to find something out for myself.

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    • Puerto Rico has clearly been neglected. Not just post Maria, but for at least a decade. And as we look at causes, we may well consider the institutional racism and vindictiveness toward typically liberal regions coming from the republican party. Half a million people leaving over the past decade speaks volumes. But the mass exodus that is now taking shape is unprecedented in so short a time-scale.

      We should also be clear that this is also probably a part of the larger climate change trend. It’s more difficult to work in hotter environments. And hotter regions tend to have lower economic productivity. Add in rising humidity and parts of the Caribbean are starting to experience less and less tolerable conditions (by humans). With a worst in class hurricane roaring through, and also made worse by climate change, and with the mainland president turning his face away from Puerto Rico, this could well be the gigantic plank of wood that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.

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      • eleggua

         /  September 28, 2017

        “I think I’m gonna be sad; I think it’s today, yeah….”

        Puerto Rico climate change refugees required to buy a ticket to ride to safety. Un-f-ing-believable.

        ‘Trump administration requiring Puerto Rico evacuees to pay transportation costs’
        09/28/17

        http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/352824-trump-administration-forcing-puerto-rico-evacuees-to-pay-for

        “People evacuated by the U.S. from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico must sign promissory notes ensuring they fully repay transportation costs to the Defense Department, according to the State Department.

        Evacuees from Dominica and other countries hit by the hurricanes also must sign the promissory notes, though their repayments would go through the State Department.

        The notes fall under a longstanding but discretionary policy meant to ensure that evacuees pay transportation costs, which are based on “the price of the last commercial one-way, full-fare (not discounted) economy ticket prior to the crisis.” …

        …People who sign the promissory notes are effectively taking out a loan from the U.S. government. The loans, according to State’s website, are managed “by the Comptroller and Global Financial Services office in Charleston, South Carolina.”…

        Limits are placed on the passports of evacuees who sign the notes, the State Department’s website says.

        “Upon evacuation, a Department of State official must limit an evacuee’s passport. In order to obtain a new passport, an evacuee must arrange payment as agreed upon via the promissory note,” the website reads.”

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        • Abel Adamski

           /  September 29, 2017

          Been a bit of a flip on that , The article has been updated. Smelly lumps on the face tend to encourage change of direction

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        • eleggua

           /  September 30, 2017

          Aha; good news; thanks for catching and pointing out that switch, Abel.

          The new headline:

          ‘State not requiring Puerto Rico evacuees to pay transportation costs’

          “…the State policy does not apply to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, a spokeswoman for the department said.”

          Like

  5. wili

     /  September 28, 2017

    Like

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  6. wpNSAlito

     /  September 28, 2017

    Is there a problem with my comment?

    Like

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  7. Vic

     /  September 28, 2017

    A series of massive fire tornados reaching a thousand feet high have ripped through a pastoral property in the Kimberly region in Western Australia.

    The bushfire that spawned the tornadoes has so far destroyed more than three million hectares – an area the size of Belgium.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-26/fire-tornados-rip-trees-from-ground/8989352

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    • Tornadoes spawned by wildfires are certainly becoming more frequent as the size and intensity of fires increases. However, I don’t think I’ve heard of a large outbreak like this.

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  8. Vic

     /  September 28, 2017

    Thanks for the hat tip Robert. It got to 38.4C (101F) in my neck of the woods today here in north east NSW – around 16C above average for this time of year. It feels just plain wrong.

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    • Well, it’s certainly not right. Thank you for all the updates. It’s very important to report these events. Mainstream news couldn’t capture it all even if they dedicated all resources to it. And, as we see, so much of the news is both more complicated due to multiple simultaneous crises and due to those outlets like Murdoch’s which are strongly biased against reporting anything climate change at all. You and Umbrios and everyone else who does this does the world a service.

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      • eleggua

         /  September 28, 2017

        Yes, thanks so much to you folks, Vic etal. outside of North America. So important to raise awareness of what’s up elsewhere and create positive connectivity, connecting islands of information with one another. Once again, can’t say it enough, thank you Robert for providing, maintaining and directing this center for our new enviroment, this wonderful hub of shared knowledge and kindred spirit.

        “How shall the new environment be programmed now that we have become so involved with each other, now that all of us have become the unwitting work force for social change?”

        — Marshall McLuhan

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      • I´d like to thank for the hat tip too. Rains are slowly coming back here it seems… though there was none in São Paulo yet, Brasília had rain yesterday after 127 days of drought:
        https://www.climatempo.com.br/noticia/2017/09/27/volta-a-chover-em-goiania-depois-de-4-meses-de-seca-0352

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        • Suzanne

           /  September 29, 2017

          Me too. Thanks Robert for the hat tip. I haven’t had much time lately to stay up to date with the blog or CC news. Was pretty busy working to stop Graham/Cassidy.. Relieved that abomination of a tax break…err….healthcare bill is dead…for now.

          Like

  9. Leo van Lierop

     /  September 28, 2017

    Here’s a high-res picture of Lee and to the left Maria, stunning. You’d wonder if such a thing could ever reach Spain.
    Hurricane Lee

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    • Stunning picture indeed.

      More and more possible these days. SSTs off eastern Spain are in the range of 70-71 F (21 to 22 C). That’s at 1 C warmer than present climatology (30 year). A cyclone moving through waters in this range would lose strength pretty quickly and would have to be fast moving to impact Spain as a Cat 1 or maybe Cat 2. Push that by another 2 C and you get close to the range where it’s more possible for a Cat 1, 2 or maybe 3 to roar in if it recurves from the ITCZ or roars across the Atlantic.

      We have SST variances of 3 C or greater in hot spots presently. So it’s not really a future issue. Of course other factors could limit that potential. But the SSTs are there.

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  10. Shawn Redmond

     /  September 28, 2017

    Looking at these glacial flows individual contributions to overall mean sea level rise(MSLR) and talking in terms of decades to centuries for their collapse makes the problem seem very far off in human terms. The immediate worry should be the small percentages that each one will contribute to overall MSLR. If they are all losing mass from below at the same time a small percentage from all could quickly cause greater heart ache than we are already seeing. The worlds ocean are not a bathtub so four inches (100mm) will not be distributed evenly. Gravitational pull by the continents cause the water to be pulled towards them, as well as earths rotation moving water towards the middle and piling it up against the eastern coastlines of the continents. Over simplified for sure but 10mm per year is 4 inches in a decade and not evenly distributed will be disastrous for a lot of coastal areas when a small storm surge is added in. For most of us on the coast an extra 10cm on a normal high tide will go unnoticed by all but the very aware. The powers that be are not prepared for this and the general population is unknowingly being exposed to this existential threat.
    http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/07/antarctica-sea-level-rise-climate-change/
    By measuring the amount of this freshwater, the researchers could estimate how much ice was being lost. The melt rates “were just crazy,” says Adrian Jenkins, a glaciologist from the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. According to his calculations, the ice shelf was losing 13 cubic miles of ice per year from its underside; back near the grounding line, the ice was probably thinning up to 300 feet per year.

    “It was just beyond our concept that a glacier would melt that fast,” Jenkins says.
    _______________________________________________________
    It’s unclear when the entire ice shelf might disintegrate. The “warm” water flowing underneath it from offshore is only 4 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit above freezing. But roughly 3,000 cubic miles of it arrives every year, which means the ice shelf is receiving an amount of heat that exceeds the output of a hundred nuclear power plants, operating 24/7.
    __________________________________________________________
    Until recently the East Antarctic Ice Sheet was considered secure; unlike West Antarctica, it sits on high ground. But mapping with ice-penetrating radar has revealed a low-lying region cut by glacially carved channels that drop as far as 8,500 feet below sea level—perfect for guiding warm ocean water deep into the heart of the ice sheet. The Totten Glacier is the largest coastal outlet in this region. If it collapsed, global sea level could rise 13 feet—“roughly as much as all of West Antarctica,” Rignot points out. “One glacier alone.”

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    • Paleoclimate indicates that glacial releases can occur very rapidly and in very large pulse events. It’s definitely a system that you should be worried about hitting a certain tipping point and then moving much faster than it has in the past. If you’re looking at exponential components to climate change, the glacier system is certainly one that presents the potential for that level of change. Gradual melt, relatively steady rates of increase along a curve, and then a big surprise is certainly something that I see as in the cards so long as we keep warming the Earth.

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    • Thanks for this, Abel.

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    • eleggua

       /  September 28, 2017

      Yes, great perspective from Robert M. Thorson , professor, University of Connecticut, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Thanks for sharing.

      “The final point is that litigation will increase. The floodgates have opened for a “rapidly building wave” of climate litigation. Under normal circumstances, I would abhor this development, because excessive litigation is a drain on our economy and a prolonged pain in the neck. But perhaps that’s what’s needed to get the executive and legislative branches of government moving seriously on the uber issue of our times.”

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  11. eleggua

     /  September 28, 2017

    Power from the people for the people.

    “…This immense human effort, shown in the pictures of ordinary men and women sweating with spades, running with wheelbarrows, passing stretchers over their heads will surely be the lasting image of the 7.1 magnitude tremor that struck Mexico less than two weeks after a more distant 8.1 earthquake. It is a story of tragedy, but also of solidarity and hope.

    “I felt I had to do something,” says Sergio Fragoso, a 31-year-old music producer, who came on a borrowed bike to toil at the site for 16 hours straight, his determination conquering his exhaustion. “I thought about what it would be like if it was me trapped under there. I would want people to help.”…”

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  12. eleggua

     /  September 28, 2017

    “….Brazil stands at a crossroads. It can continue its slow strangulation of Funai, or it can enforce its own laws and reclaim its stature as guardian of its rich cultural and biological diversity.

    It would be the world’s shame — and Brazil’s in particular — to stand by and watch, or pretend not to see, as the forces of short-term gain wipe the last human vestiges of pre-European America off the face of the earth.”

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    • Elegga, you´ll probably like this article:
      https://www.ecodebate.com.br/2017/09/29/stf-determina-volta-prisao-de-fazendeiros-envolvidos-em-ataque-indigenas-no-mato-grosso-do-sul/

      Brasil´s Supreme Court reverted a previous decision of a lesser juridic court. So, the “ruralistas” (I haven´t yet been able to translate “ruralista” to english. “Farmer” isn´t the right world… it´s too benign. Agribusinness tychon is too benign too… true farmers in agribusiness use technology to produce better and more, while “ruralistas” use stone-age tech to produce “tradicionally” with slave labor and land theft. If there is a word in English that translates the loathsome that “ruralista” means in Portuguese, I haven´t learned that one yet) responsible for the last onslaught against those people are in prison right now.

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      • eleggua

         /  September 30, 2017

        Thanks for that one, umbrios27. Some justice prevailing there.

        Can’t come up with a valid word in English for the ruralista. They’re a sort of modern day conquistador but that word isn’t exactly apt.

        GT came up with this in the translation of that article.
        “a perfect succession of invasions on a land where the Indians first stepped on”
        reminding me of this outstanding work of art.

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  13. eleggua

     /  September 28, 2017

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  14. eleggua

     /  September 28, 2017

    Interesting point re: life span expectancy of an industrial civilization.

    ‘The Uninhabitable Earth
    Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.’
    By David Wallace-Wells July 9, 2017

    “…..Several of the scientists I spoke with proposed global warming as the solution to Fermi’s famous paradox, which asks, If the universe is so big, then why haven’t we encountered any other intelligent life in it?

    The answer, they suggested, is that the natural life span of a civilization may be only several thousand years, and the life span of an industrial civilization perhaps only several hundred.

    In a universe that is many billions of years old, with star systems separated as much by time as by space, civilizations might emerge and develop and burn themselves up simply too fast to ever find one another. Peter Ward, a charismatic paleontologist among those responsible for discovering that the planet’s mass extinctions were caused by greenhouse gas, calls this the “Great Filter”: “Civilizations rise, but there’s an environmental filter that causes them to die off again and disappear fairly quickly,” he told me. “If you look at planet Earth, the filtering we’ve had in the past has been in these mass extinctions.” The mass extinction we are now living through has only just begun; so much more dying is coming.

    And yet, improbably, Ward is an optimist. So are Broecker and Hansen and many of the other scientists I spoke to. We have not developed much of a religion of meaning around climate change that might comfort us, or give us purpose, in the face of possible annihilation. But climate scientists have a strange kind of faith: We will find a way to forestall radical warming, they say, because we must……”

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  15. eleggua

     /  September 28, 2017

    Deeply distracted, depressed, distressed, disconnected-though-intensely-connected teenage generation in the US and elsewhere is a disturbing matter and a deep concern.

    Fairlly incredible numbers show the disconnect from natural reality vs immersion in digital reality. Disturbing, as they’re not paying attention to matters of external concern ala climate change, social justice, etcetera but instead are chattering about personal, manufactured drama and creating more personal drama versus discussing dreams for the future.

    Should be a serious concern for all, especially parents of youngsters and potential parents. They’re a large part of the human biomass and are not aware nor connected to the reality of what’s here now and what’s coming for their own and all generations, emergent and present.

    ‘Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?
    More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.’
    Jean M. Twenge September 2017

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/

    “….Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it….

    The biggest difference between the Millennials and their predecessors was in how they viewed the world; teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time. The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them…..

    ….theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night. iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone…..

    Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones….”

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  1. Cyclone energy closing in on records - Puerto Rico may never recover | The Big Raise

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