Extent of Ocean Surface Above 86 Degrees (F) Hits New Record During May of 2016

Not only is a human-forced warming of the globe expected to increase average surface ocean and land temperatures, it is also expected to generate higher peak readings over larger and larger regions. Such was the case during May of 2016 as a massive expanse of the world ocean saw temperatures rocket to above 30 degrees Celsius (or 86 degrees Fahrenheit).

Area of World Ocean Above 30 C

(A record hot global ocean has brewed up yet one more new extreme in the form of a 32.7 million square kilometer expanse of steaming hot waters above 86 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 degrees Celsius. Image source: Brian Brettschneider.)

According to climatologist Brian Brettschneider, 32.7 million square kilometers of the world ocean saw temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius during May of 2016. A new record for the largest sea surface area above a high temperature threshold that typically sets off a range of harmful ocean conditions — including coral bleaching, lower levels of seawater oxygen, and increased rates of algae growth — even as it dumps copious volumes of high latent heat water vapor into the Earth’s atmosphere.

The new record belittled 2015’s May 30 C + extent of about 28.5 million square kilometers — beating it by over 4 million square kilometers. For reference, the new 32.7 million square kilometer record extent of such steamy ocean waters is about equal in area to the size of Africa and Greenland combined.

image

(A huge expanse of Equatorial waters saw sea surface temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius or 86 degrees Fahrenheit during May. A record expanse of hot water that is also now in the process of dumping a record amount of high latent heat moisture into the Earth’s atmosphere. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

High water temperatures in the range of 30 C greatly increase the latent heat energy of the Earth system. Such warm waters pump out an extraordinary volume of high heat content water vapor into the atmosphere. And May’s record 30 C extent has almost certainly contributed to numerous extreme rainfall events occurring around the globe during late May and extending into early June.

Rising Sea and Land Surface Temperatures as Global Health Risk

Record extents of 30+ C waters also increase the potential for combinations of high heat and humidity over the Earth’s surface that result in a rising risk of human heat injuries or even death. In India this year nearly 400 people are thought to have died directly due to excessive heat. Thousands more are reported injured in what is now a record heatwave and drought affecting the highly populated country.

Field workers are also suffering from increasing instances of chronic kidney failure — a condition that health professionals are starting to link to the extreme heat, humidity and other conditions related to climate change. Though highest instances of kidney disease show up among those working outside during the heat of the day, 1 in 13 people in India now suffer from it. Lack of available water due to drought, rising temperatures due to climate change, a lack of air conditioning in the increasingly sweltering country, and a dearth of breaks in which outdoor workers can retreat to the shade are all identified as  factors that have led to such amazingly high rates of kidney illness and kidney failure in India.

In the worst instances of the most dangerous periods of high heat, wet bulb readings — which are meant to simulate the lowest temperature evaporation can cool the human skin to — have approached 35 C. A combination of temperature and humidity that renders the human body unable to transport heat away from the skin and a reading that greatly increases the risk of heat injury and death. And since maximum ocean surface temperatures are a good proxy for peak potential wet bulb readings, a record extent of 30+ C sea surface temperatures is a context of rising risk for the new kinds of heatwave mass casualties associated with human-caused climate change.

Links:

Brian Brettschneider

Earth Nullschool

Thousands Injured by High Temperatures in India

The Mysterious Disease That’s Killing India’s Farmers

Climate Change Linked to Increased Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease

Hat Tip to DT Lange

Hat Tip to Cate

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

 

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The Merciless Rains of Climate Change Hammer Houston, Southeast Texas — 12-18 Inches Accumulation, More Than 1,200 Water Rescues Reported

“I can hear your whisper and distant mutter. I can smell your damp on the breeze and in the sky I see the halo of your violence. Storm I know you are coming.”

*****

The atmospheric ingredients right now are ripe for some serious trouble. Globally, the world is just starting to back away from the hottest temperatures ever recorded. This never-before-seen heat plume, driven on by a fossil-fuel abetted warming not seen in at least 115,000 years and an extreme El Nino combined, has loaded an unprecedented amount of moisture into the Earth’s atmosphere. As El Nino shifts toward La Nina and the Earth marginally cools, a portion of this massive excess of water vapor is bound to fall out as rain — manifesting as terrible extreme precipitation episodes that can result in serious trouble. A seemingly endless procession of freak events that challenge the record books time and time again.

Across the world, we’re starting to see such episodes now. Over the past week, Iran, Yemen, Qatar Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan have experienced flash floods resulting in loss of life. Severe floods spurred a major emergency response effort in Central and Northern Russia this weekend. And in Santiago Chile, streets turned into rivers as a sudden and extraordinary deluge both polluted the water supplies of 1 million people and transformed the world’s largest copper mine into a lake.

(Severe flooding around the world this week includes the Houston area — sections of which have essentially been crippled by 12-18 inches of rainfall over the past 24 hours. In total, more than 1,200 water rescues have been reported throughout the region. Many residents, like the gentleman above, appear to have been shocked and surprised by the flooding’s severity. Video source: Houston ABC News.)

Sudden, Extreme Flooding in Houston Area

In the US, the City of Houston and the region of southeastern Texas experienced its own extreme deluge. There, a stubborn and unyielding high pressure system over the US East Coast, an omega block in the Jet Stream, a cut off upper level low, and a nearly unprecedented amount of moisture streaming in from the Gulf of Mexico and regions to the Equatorial South all conspired to aim a train of powerful storms in the form of an eye-popping mesoscale convective system (MCS) at the Houston region. Since early this morning, between 12-18 inches of rainfall fell over the city’s western suburbs with 6-8 inches inundating the city center. In some places, rates of rainfall accumulation hit a crippling rate of nearly 4 inches per hour.

According to Bob Henson at Weather Underground:

… the Houston area was socked on Monday morning by a huge mesoscale convective system (MCS) that drifted southeast across the area, dumping eye-popping amounts of rain: 6” – 8” over central Houston, with 12” – 18” common over the far western suburbs… While individual thunderstorms often weaken after dark, the large mass of thunderstorms that makes up an MCS will often persist overnight and into the next morning, as the MCS cloud tops radiate heat to space and instability is enhanced.

The record single day rainfall total for Houston before today was 11.25 inches. It appears likely that 11.75 inches recorded at Houston International Airport today will mark a new daily high mark for a city that grew up out of fossil fuel burning but now appears to be drowning in the heat-intensified effluent. More to the point, most of Houston’s western suburbs experienced what amounts to an entire typical season’s worth of rainfall in just one 24 hour period.

Drainage systems, not designed to handle anywhere near so much water over so short a period, were rapidly overwhelmed. By midday, more than 70 subdivisions in the Houston region were reported flooded, more than 1,200 vehicle water rescue operations had been conducted along the inundated region’s streets and highways, and more than 1,000 homes were inundated. Seven hospitals were shut down, airport operations were crippled, and more than 100,000 people were reported to be without power. The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore, not known for understatement, may have hit a bit below the mark when he noted that “this is a mind boggling situation” earlier this afternoon. CNN, in its summation report of this, most recent, disaster declared that the entire city had been basically shut down.

Extreme Storms Houston Texas

(River of moisture flows up from the Equator and Gulf of Mexico and into the Houston region on Monday — spurring extreme rains that cripple the city. A pair of doggedly persistent weather systems — a blocking high to the east and an upper level low to the north contributed to the extreme weather over Houston. Climate change related features like record atmospheric moisture loading, and persistent ridge and trough generation due to Jet Stream changes likely linked to record low Arctic sea ice levels also likely influenced today’s severe storms. Image source: LANCE MODIS.)

As of early this evening, a series of somewhat less intense storms still trailed through the Houston region as heavier rains marched off toward the east over Louisiana and Arkansas. A strong moisture flow is expected to persist over Eastern Texas and the southern Mississippi River Valley region through to at least Thursday as both the upper level low and blocking high complicit in Monday’s extreme flooding in Houston appear reluctant to budge from their current positions. As a result, NOAA is predicting another 4-5 inches of rainfall for areas near and just to the North and East of Houston over the next seven days. To this point, it’s worth noting that NOAA’s precipitation models had ‘only’ predicted about 4 inches of rainfall for the past 24 hour period in the near Houston area — a period that produced about five times that total for some locations. So it appears that weather models may be having a little bit of trouble managing the new and extremely dynamic atmospheric conditions now coming into play.

But One Extreme Event of Many in the Past Five Months

Houston’s likely record rainfall for this time of year comes on the back of hailstorms generating up to a billion dollars worth of damage over Northeastern Texas last week and follows a record March inundation of the Mississippi River region just to the North and East. An event that also followed a freak December flooding of Missouri and Illinois which likewise re-organized the record books. Overall, this represents an extreme spate of severe weather for one localized region.

Consistent trough generation in the Jet Stream over the area (likely influenced by record low Arctic sea ice coverage), consistent above average sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, a strong moisture flow from a record El Nino, and record global temperatures contributing to high atmospheric moisture loadings all influenced severe storm formation over this area during recent months. Sadly, it’s a spate of severe weather that is likely to continue at least until the end of Spring.

Links:

Widespread Flooding, More than 1,000 Water Rescues in Houston Area

Houston Largely Shut Down Amidst Severe Rainfall, Flooding

Massive Flood in Houston

Houston Texas Average Rainfall

Flash Floods Claim 18 Lives Across Saudia Arabia

Deadly Rains Pound the Middle East

Flash Floods in North Afghanistan Claim 38 Lives Overnight

World’s Largest Copper Mine Shut Down in Santiago Flood

As A Titanic El Nino Begins to Fade, What Fresh Trouble Will Record Warm World Bring?

NOAA Quantitative Predictive Forecasts

Punishing Four Season Storm Grips US

Mangled Jet Stream, River of Moisture Set to Deliver Severe Flooding to Mississippi River Valley

Houston ABC News

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

Hat Tip to Greg

Hat Tip to DT Lange

Hat Tip to Daniel Hatem

Climate Change and a Mangled Jet Stream: Historic May Deluge for Bosnia and Serbia

Over the past week, a powerful heat dome high pressure system grew ever-more-entrenched over a region just north of the Caspian Sea. This sprawling high pushed an extreme amplitude ridge pattern north toward Arctic Russia, Scandinavia, and the Kara and Barents Seas. Behind this ridge, toward Central and Eastern Europe, a deep trough dipole pattern developed. A cold and unstable pit in the atmosphere hungry for storms and drawing in energy from the far-north Arctic near Svalbard.

By late Tuesday, the deep pit had fallen down into a cut-off and powerful low pressure system, wringing out the moisture spilling off the heat dome high. By today, that system had turned into a kind of inland hurricane as it dumped as much as four months worth of rainfall in less than 40 hours over broad sections of Bosnia and Serbia.

Serbia Floods May 15

(The very vision of a hydrological cycle amped-up by human-caused climate change — deluge over Bosnia and Serbia. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

The result was a staggering inundation of water that cut off entire towns, knocked out bridges, left thousands of people stranded and resulted in the loss of at least 5 souls. Flood waters surged through towns and villages, carrying away cars, capsizing homes, and turning streets into torrents. Hillsides collapsed into slurries of muck and the two main north-south rail lines through Serbia and Bosnia were cut off.

By today, officials were declaring the event the worst water disaster ever to occur in the region. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic made an embattled appeal for aid from neighboring countries saying:

“What we are facing is the biggest water catastrophe in Serbia’s history.”

According to reports from Serbia Independent News, rainfall rates were the highest ever measured in all of the 120 year record. Records in Bosnia also hit their highest levels since measurements began in 1894.

In Bosnia, Maglaj, a town some 60 miles north of Sarajevo was inundated by a massive water surge, forcing 6,000 to evacuate as others climbed onto rooftops to avoid the rushing water. Harried Maglai Mayor Mehmed Mustabasic noted:

“The situation is alarming. We have no electricity, the phones are not working. We are cut off from the rest of the world.”

(Euro-News assessment of the still-ongoing disaster)

Bosnian and Serbian military helicopters scoured the countryside for stranded persons, ultimately evacuating hundreds more. EU troops stationed in the Balkans joined in with trucks and more helicopters, but many roads remained impassable either due to flooding or to heavy snowfall blanketing higher elevations. Almost all schools across the widely impacted region were closed.

“We have engaged all our manpower,” said Predrag Maric, a Serbian emergency official, as strong winds and rain cut off a key road to Croatia. “Water is rising everywhere.”

Unfortunately, the cut-off low pressure system setting off this historic storm is now entrenched and will likely continue to bring severe weather to the region into early Saturday. So relief is not likely to come until the weekend.

UPDATE: As of late Sunday, the upper level low remained in place dumping heavy rainfall over the Balkans. The area of major impact expanded into Croatia as nearly fifty souls have now been taken by this extraordinarily extreme event. New update article to follow later today or tomorrow.

Links:

LANCE-MODIS

Daily Rainfall in Belgrade Hits Record

Five Dead in Worst Floods to Hit Bosnia in 120 Years

Record Rain Causes Flooding Across the Balkans, Hundreds Evacuated

Hat-tip to Colorado Bob

 

107.9 litres per square metre in Belgrade, 110 litres per square metre in Loznica and 108.2 litres per square metre in ValjevoRead More at inserbia.info/today/2014/05/daily-rainfall-in-belgrade-valjevo-and-loznica-hits-record/ © InSerbia News
107.9 litres per square metre in Belgrade, 110 litres per square metre in Loznica and 108.2 litres per square metre in Valjevo,Read More at inserbia.info/today/2014/05/daily-rainfall-in-belgrade-valjevo-and-loznica-hits-record/ © InSerbia News
107.9 litres per square metre in Belgrade, 110 litres per square metre in Loznica and 108.2 litres per square metre in Valjevo,Read More at inserbia.info/today/2014/05/daily-rainfall-in-belgrade-valjevo-and-loznica-hits-record/ © InSerbia News

 

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