Jebi Threatens Japan with 170 Mph Winds

 

The most intense tropical cyclone of 2018 — Jebi — is churning through the Western Pacific. Japan is now in the bull’s eye of the projected path.

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4 Million EVs on the Road Globally — To Hit 5 Million in About Six Months

 

The number of EVs on the road in Europe has hit 1 million with a 42 percent growth rate in the January to June timeframe. Meanwhile, Global EVs have hit 4 million with nearly 2 million sales projected for this year. From January to July, Tesla took the crown as top-selling EV automaker.

Wisconsin Hit Hard by Heavy Rain — More On the Way

Flood emergencies have been declared as parts of western and southern Wisconsin have been hit hard by rainfall totals ranging between 5 and 15 inches over the past week. The above analysis provides both weather and climate contexts for this event.

Cooperation with Nature — Caroline Casey Climate Chat

Please join Caroline Casey and I for a broad-ranging discussion of key climate change, clean energy and climate related actions.

California Has Already Cut Carbon Emissions to 1990s Levels

California has reduced its electrical power sector related carbon emissions by 35 percent — enabling it to achieve a goal set for 2020 early. Looking ahead, California will need to rely an synergies between batteries and clean energy both in power and transport as it moves to cut emission further.

Eastern Heatwave Blooms Amid Record Humidity

 

Heat index values near 107 F are blanketing parts of Virginia according to GFS models. In addition, the humidity record for Hartford has been shattered for summer of 2018 as much warmer than normal offshore waters pumped out a plume of moisture.

Models Continue to Point to Potential for Jump in Atlantic Storms

Models continue to identify numerous regions where tropical cyclones are more likely to form over the next 3-10 days. Multiple tropical waves are predicted to move off Africa. Meanwhile, potentials storm formation near Florida and in the eastern Gulf are indicated in some models. The above analysis includes climate change related features that may influence storm intensity.

Setback Initiative Puts Colorado Fracking Fight in the Hands of Voters

Advocates for keeping fossil fuels in the ground have gathered enough signatures to provide a ballot choice for voters to increase setbacks for oil derricks and fracking pads from 500 feet to 2,500 feet. This would likely result in a curtailment of Colorado oil and gas production. A major political battle is likely to ensue. The success of this initiative provides a window into the larger choices we face as human caused climate change impacts start to ramp up.

Heat Building Beneath the Sea Ice Hints at Tipping Points

A new study shows that the excess heat developed in newly ice free zones is being transported beneath the central ice. This heat is sequestered in a layer beneath the surface. But it contains enough energy to keep large regions of the Beaufort Sea ice free during most months if mixed, according to the new research.

California Close to Committing to 100 Percent Renewable Electricity

Yesterday, Senate Bill 100 passed the California State Assembly. If it makes it through a second set of legislative hurdles, it will reach Governor Brown’s desk for signing into law. If this happens, California will join 88 other cities and counties across the U.S. as well as the State of Hawaii in 100 renewable electricity commitments.

Change in the Jet Stream Relieves West, Moves Heat East

A change in the persistent jet stream pattern that enhanced heatwave and fire intensity for the U.S. West is now providing relief. Meanwhile, a building ridge in the east has set the stage for potential record heat.

The Hurricane Models are Starting to Get a Bit Wild

 

Forecast models are indicating that the North Atlantic is much more likely to produce storms as we move into September. In the above video blog, we provide an analysis of the underlying climate and climate change related conditions that may influence the intensity of storms that do form. Particularly those that do approach the United States.

 

Climate Change Signal Detected in FL Governor’s Race

 

Climate change is a major issue that impacts us all. Increasingly, it is becoming a serious voting issue. Particularly for the residents of South Florida who stand to lose so much if climate impacts keep ramping up.

Aiming For 1.5 C Part II: This is Your Home

In achieving any kind of real progress toward an important end, it’s necessary to set goals that are difficult to attain. To aim further than you think you can go. And that’s even more important for a climate crisis that will produce catastrophic outcomes if we don’t set some very serious renewable energy, emissions reduction, and sustainability goals.

(This is your home.)

Because the important end that we are now trying to attain involves saving the future. Future prosperity, future vitality, future generations of human beings and living creatures. In the end it’s about the future of your home. For each 0.1 C of additional warming will bring with it more risk. More potential for increased harm.

It doesn’t matter if you live in Miami or Bangladesh. In Norfolk or Washington DC. In London or LA. In Calgary or Quebec. Where you live is where climate change is happening now. And where you live is where the future catastrophic impacts from climate change will be felt if we don’t do the necessary work.

In saying this, I can also say with confidence that we have a pathway out of this crisis. We have the renewable energy technology available now that is capable of replacing fossil fuel burning — so long as it is deployed on a mass scale. We have the ability to make our energy systems more efficient. We have the ability to change the way we manage lands and farms. And we can do all this — getting to net zero carbon emissions — without the kind of (post-Maria Puerto Rico-like) austerity invoking collapse of the global economy that the mongers of fear, uncertainty and doubt falsely say is necessary.

But to do this, to prevent catastrophe — not harm, because we are already going to see harm — we have to set our goals high. We have to try to achieve what might not be possible. And that’s why we aim for 1.5 C. Because this is your home. And we will employ every tool in our kit in our fight to save it.

Hat tip to Dr. Michael E Mann

Why We Need to Shoot for 1.5 C Even Though We Might Miss — Part 1

Each day, as individuals and as a global civilization, we decide how difficult our future will be. We do this, ultimately, by deciding whether we will burn fossil fuels, and whether or not we will emit carbon into the Earth’s atmosphere. The most liveable climate change scenario is the one where we emit the least carbon, where we first switch carbon emitting energy systems with renewables, and where we then learn how to draw carbon down from the atmosphere. In scientific parlance, this best case response to climate change is described as the RCP 2.6 emissions pathway.

(Shooting for 1.5 C Warming — Risk and Necessity.)

What is RCP 2.6? How do we define it?

We do this in many ways. By one measure, it roughly equates to an average of 490 ppm CO2 equivalent greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere over the course of the 21st Century. By another, it equals an added average radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere of 2.6 watts per meter squared. By another, it roughly equals 1.5 C warming by 2100.

In short, it’s the best case that we could rationally hope for. A much more liveable world. But it is also a long shot. A heavy lift. One that will require great courage, moral fiber, innovation, and effort if we are to have any hope of achieving it.

In order to have a shot at hitting RCP 2.6 we’ve got to, as a global civilization, achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. What this means is that U.S. carbon emissions need to be net zero by 2035. And the world needs to quickly follow suit. That’s not going to be easy. But I think it’s doable, if we work hard and honestly and if we are lucky.

Ultimately, it’s something that we can’t not try to do and still be a good people. For in undertaking the path to 1.5 C we commit to the greatest rescue operation in the history of the planet and of humankind. And that’s what part 2 of this post series is about.

Hat tip to Greg

How Greenland Melt Can Kick off A Warm “Ill Wind” Near Antarctica

Sixteen thousand years ago, Greenland melt set off a cascade of impacts to the world ocean and atmosphere that led to the dredging of carbon rich waters from deep below the Pacific surface. These waters then disgorged enough carbon into the atmosphere to ultimately raise CO2 levels by 40 parts per million.

(Related: Bad Climate Wind Rises.)

A recent report in Nature Communications found that:

“During this earlier period, known as Heinrich stadial 1, atmospheric CO2 increased by a total of ~40ppm, Antarctic surface atmospheric temperatures increased by around 5°C and Southern Ocean temperatures increased by 3°C.”

How did it all happen? According to the science, Greenland melt slowed down North Atlantic Deep Water formation. This, in turn, caused the North Atlantic to cool and the South Atlantic to warm. The resulting change in temperature then shoved the band of stormy weather called the Inter-Tropical-Convergence-Zone southward. Subsequently, the westerlies in the Southern Hemisphere were shifted poleward and strengthened. Stronger, more southward running winds around the southern pole dredged up carbon rich deep water near the pole and on into the Pacific. This carbon then transferred to the atmosphere.

It’s an interesting bit of science. But it has a good degree of relevance to the present day. That’s because Greenland is again melting greater volumes of water into the North Atlantic. The North Atlantic is again cooling. And the Southern Ocean winds are again being driven south as they strengthen.

(How Greenland melt pulled carbon from the Southern Ocean. A process that is being driven to repeat by present human-forced climate change. Image source: Nature Communications.)

According to lead author Dr. Laurie Menviel:

“With this in mind, the contraction and strengthening of westerly winds today could have significant implications for atmospheric CO2 concentrations and our future climate.”

This is a kind of feedback that results from the warming humans have caused that can result in more carbon being wrung from the ocean. And it’s a concern because it shortens the available time-frame in which to respond to the crisis that is climate change.

(Greenland melt, the North Atlantic cool pool, and strengthening, southward moving Southern Ocean winds. These dynamics set off a carbon feedback about 16,000 years ago. Similar dynamics are coming into play today due to human caused climate change. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

To be clear, present rates of fossil fuel burning are dumping an amount of carbon into the atmosphere at a much higher rate than this identified Earth System response could ever match. But, as the study authors note, the Southern Ocean has already sequestered 10 percent of carbon emitted by humans. If that sequestration halts and then reverses, then the rate of atmospheric CO2 accumulation, even if emissions stay stable, will rise by about 0.2 to 0.4 ppm per year.

This report lends further urgency to global efforts by responsible institutions and individuals to reduce global carbon emissions and transition to clean energy. Bringing the more difficult outcomes of rising heat trapping gasses closer and closer to the present day.

Please read more here.

Hat tip to mlp in NC.

Trump’s Hot Air vs Australia’s Solar Revolution

What’s the difference between bad (Trumpian) energy policy and good (clean energy based) energy policy? For Los Angeles and San Diego which both experienced an extreme, climate change driven, heatwave over the past week, about 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

In other words, fossil fuel burning under Trump policies would be of much greater magnitude and extend for far longer into the future. This would pump more heat trapping carbon into the atmosphere and ratchet global temperatures much higher.

According to a recent science-based article from Joe Romm at Think Progress, what it means is that the 110 to 120 degree (F) heatwaves of today, under Trumpian policy, will turn into the 131 degree heatwaves of tomorrow.

(Trump’s heatwaves vs Australia’s solar surge.)

In other words, it’s not a question of whether climate change will worsen. It will, at least for a while. It’s a question of how bad things will get. And from Obama to Trump we have a clear example and contrast between various helpful policies like increasing CAFE standards, the Sun Shot Initiative, the Clean Power Plan, and the Paris Climate Summit to various attempts to force people to buy coal, allowing the most toxic high emissions trucks on the road, putting up vast swaths of public lands for drilling, all while denying the scientifically proven existence of climate change and doing everything possible to roll back and withdraw from past positive policies.

One of these governments is clearly not like the other. And while we, as environmentalists and clean energy advocates could criticize individual climate policies for not going far enough, we must certainly concede that they were, on net, significantly helpful.

To this point, I’d like to call your attention to a recent spot-on statement by Dr Michael E. Mann:

And we are coming to realize how much more F’d we will be if we let those like Trump win out.

In the end, so much of the future of humankind is decided by international, national, state, and city government policy. If policies support a transition away from fossil fuel burning and toward a renewable energy based economy, then fossil fuel burning will halt more rapidly and warming will be reduced.

If, on the other hand, governments (like the one under Trump) fight to extend fossil fuel burning indefinitely into the future, to deny access to clean energy and to prevent the advance of efficiencies and energy savings, then warming will proceed very rapidly along what is known as a business as usual pathway. A pathway that is better described as the fast lane to increasingly hot and hellish conditions on Earth.

One future is probably survivable by human civilizations. The other future is very painful and difficult, calling prosperity and even habitability for large regions of the Earth’s surface into serious question.

(U.S. Heatwaves under some climate response [RCP 4.5] vs Trump policies leading to no climate response [RCP 8.5]. Image source: Think Progress and The National Climate Assessment.)

That other future is the one that pro fossil fuel governments like the Trump Administration are fighting for by trying to delay or deny access to renewable energy all while attempting to extend the burning of fossil fuels indefinitely.

So we are at a crossroads in more ways than one. But we should hold a measure of cautious optimism due to the fact that the economics of renewable energy are increasingly superior to those of ailing fossil fuels. And, in some cases, these economic conditions have been enough to overwhelm the negative, pro-fossil fuel policy stances of certain federal governments presently holding sway.

Take Australia, for example, which since 2013 has been headed by pro fossil fuel parties led by Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull. These governments, holding thin majorities have done whatever they could to water down clean energy policies, reduce emissions cuts and support fossil fuels. During recent sessions, they have repeatedly attempted to send taxpayer money to coal facilities so that they will continue to operate (sound familiar, Rick Perry?).

But despite these efforts, solar energy is surging throughout Australia. Recent reports indicate that solar adoption rates will grow threefold in 2018 over the previous record year 2017. In total, Australia is on track to add about 4 gigawatts (GW) of solar to its present 7 GW total capacity.

(Major increase in clean solar adoption in Australia has primarily been driven by falling solar prices even as various Australian states continue to push hard for adoption despite the federal government’s fossil-fuel backing. Image source: Green Energy News and WA Today.)

What’s driving all this new solar? Well, for one many regions in Australia still incentivize solar. Meanwhile, some federal policies supporting solar still remain in place. But the one factor that has changed dramatically is that the cost of solar energy now out-competes practically every other major source in Australia. Panel prices are presently around 50 cents per watt down under and are falling to 40 cents per watt. This means that many customers can now recoup their investment in 3-5 years time. And with electricity prices running high, this is a really big incentive.

Solar possesses what is called a positive learning curve. What this means is that the more solar panels produced, the lower the future cost of solar panels. Both wind and batteries benefit from the same economies of scale. But if politicians like Trump increasingly use subsidies to prop up fossil fuels while fighting to kill off clean energy, then that horrible business as usual future that Joe Romm mentioned above is a very distinct possibility.

Or as Michael Mann put it — how F’d up do you want to see things get. From where I’m sitting, they’re already messed up enough.

Hat tip to Kassy

“Never Before Experienced” Rains Hammer Japan During Early July

“We’ve never experienced this kind of rain before. This is a situation of extreme danger.” — The Japan Meteorological Agency

*****

During recent days as much as 25 inches of rain has fallen over parts of Japan shattering previous all time precipitation records for parts of the island nation. The resulting floods have spurred a major emergency response by 54,000 personnel, taken the lives of more than 125 people, and forced more than 2.8 million to evacuate.

(Rising global surface temperatures increase atmospheric water vapor levels — providing liquid fuel that spikes the most powerful rainfall events to even greater extremes.)

On July 3, Typhoon Prapiroon swept over southwestern Japan bringing with it a spate of heavy rains. Over the following days, Prapiroon got caught up in stationary front even as a high pressure system to the east continued to circulate tropical moisture into the region. Beneath that eastern high, sea surface temperatures ranged between 2 and 3.5 degrees Celsius above normal. Meanwhile, warmer than normal ocean surfaces dominated a region east of the Philippines. These large, abnormally warm zones produced excess evaporation which helped to feed even more moisture into the region.

The result was a historic and devastating rain event for Japan. Isolated locations received more than 39 inches (1000 mm) of rain over a three day period. With one hour rainfall exceeding 3 inches in a number of locations. Motoyami received one day rains of 23 inches. With Mount Ontake seeing more than 25 inches over three days.

(Warmer than normal ocean surfaces, as shown in yellow and red in this sea surface temperature anomaly map, helped to fuel Japan’s recent extreme rainfall event. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Rising global temperatures increase overall atmospheric moisture loading by approximately 8 percent for each degree Celsius of global temperature increase. Water vapor provides fuel for storms both through enhancing convection and by engorging clouds with moisture. Recent scientific studies have found that climate change can greatly enhance the peak intensity of the most severe storms in this way. And the U.S. National Climate Assessment has identified a historical trend of increasing instances of heavy precipitation.

US EV Sales Likely Hit 26,000 in June

The big surge in electrical vehicle sales within the U.S., primarily driven by clean energy leader Tesla, continues.

According to reports from Inside EVs, total U.S. EV sales are likely to hit near 26,000 for the month of June. Such sales increases have primarily been driven by Tesla — which sold over 11,000 EVs in the U.S. for the month — representing nearly half (42 percent) of the entire U.S. market.

(Unpacking why EVs are so important to confronting climate change.)

Tesla’s dominance was spear headed by its Model 3 — which sold over 6,000 in June to the U.S. (and approximately 2,000 to Canada). Meanwhile, combined Model S and Model X sales were in excess of 5,000 in the U.S.

Other U.S. clean energy vehicle leaders for the month of June included Toyota Prius Prime (a plug in hybrid electrical vehicle), the Nissan Leaf, The Chevy Bolt and the Chevy Volt (plug in hybrid). In total, all of these four models combined represented less sales than Tesla — approximately  5,900 in total or about 55 percent of Tesla’s sales. Of these, only the Prius Prime cracked the 2,000 mark (see more here).

(U.S. EV sales are rapidly increasing in 2018. Image source: Inside EVs.)

Overall, it appears that U.S. EV sales are likely to hit near 400,000 on the back of Tesla’s rapid expansion in production rates. In addition, GM has recently acknowledged that it is unable to meet high demand for the Bolt in the U.S. and has stated that production lines are set to expand by 20 percent. Though this is unlikely to satiate rising EV demand, it will add to the widening trend of ramping clean energy sales here.

GM recently saw big Bolt sales gains in South Korea. And the company recently acknowledged that it is not doing enough to meet consumer’s clean energy needs in North America. Though a bump from 26,000 to approximately 31,000 Bolts sold from 2017 to 2018 is a drop in the bucked compared to the approx 100,000 or more new EVs Tesla will be adding by itself vs 2017 (100,000 total EVs in 2017 to approx 200,000 total in 2018).

(Tesla hits past 5,000 Model 3’s per week in late June and early July. Image source: Bloomberg.)

Looking ahead, Tesla appears set to sell well in excess of 10,000 Model 3s alone in the U.S. in July as weekly production rates surge. According to Bloomberg’s Model 3 Tracker (image above), the company has sky-rocketed weekly Model 3 production rates to above 5,000 during late June and early July. And while some wag is likely between the mid 2,000s to mid 5,000s as Tesla continues to work on its lines, the company is on a clear path for increased production — aiming at another surge to 6,000 per week by August.

Three Hundred Foot Tall ‘Fire Tsunami’ Burns Through Colorado

A massive 100,000 acre blaze has hurled off 300 foot high walls of fire that local authorities are describing as a ‘fire tsunami.’

The Spring Creek Fire, now the third largest in the Colorado state record, has forced more than 2,000 people to evacuate, destroyed or damaged 200 homes, and drawn the emergency response of 1,000 firefighters.

(Explosive Spring Creek Fire reaches 300 feet in height — forcing hundreds to flee.)

According to public information officer Ben Brack, firefighters were dealing with:

“unprecedented fire behavior. Because the fire has been moving so fast we don’t know exactly how big it has become. It was a perfect firestorm. This is a national disaster at this time. You can imagine standing in front of a tsunami or tornado and trying to stop it from destroying homes. A human response is ineffective.”

Thankfully, and due in large part to heroic efforts by firefighters and emergency responders to evacuate those in the fire’s path, no reports of loss of life have yet been received. Overnight rainfall on the 5th to 6th of July has also given firefighters an opportunity to respond. And now this enormous blaze is 35 percent contained. However, the explosive, lumbering fire is still a serious threat to the region.

Spring Creek Fire burn scar

(NASA satellite image of the Spring Creek Fire burn scar.)

Across the west, fully 60 large fires are now burning across the U.S. from Alaska to the Southeast. But the most intense fires are occurring in the west. These fires are sparking as record heat and severe drought conditions strike the west. And, presently, over 2,900,000 acres have burned on U.S. soil.

Heat is a primary enabler of wildfires. And with temperatures rising due to human-caused climate change, the western wildfire season has grown from 5 months in the 1970s to more than 7 months today. In some locations, like Southern California, the fire season is now year-round. In addition, the size of fires out west is increasing. So long as human fossil fuel burning and related carbon emissions continue, the western fire situation will worsen. With burn areas projected to increase by as much as 650 percent for some regions.

UPDATED

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