Advertisements

Gale After Gale After Gale Dumped Two and a Half Feet of Rain Upon Scotland and Wales This Winter

Reports from the UK Met Office are in. And we can say now with confidence that the UK have never seen weather like what they experienced this Winter. It looks like a storm track super-charged by climate change really socked it to the region this year. That we’ve just passed a winter worse than the then record years of 2013 and 2014 — only two years on.

A Stormy New Climate State for the North Atlantic

For the UK and for North Atlantic weather stability in general, the sea surface temperature anomaly signature in the graphic below is bad news. The cool pool just south of Greenland (indicated by the swatch of pale blue) is a new climate feature. One that appears to be related to glacial ice melt outflow from Greenland.

North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperatures

(10 degree Celsius above average sea surface temperatures off North America in today’s ensemble sea surface temperature model graphic are just insanely warm. Ocean surface anomalies used to rarely exceed 2 degrees Celsius warmer than average. These spikes off North America are an indication that the Gulf Stream is backing up and that overturning circulation off Greenland is slowing down. Image source: RTG-SST/NCEP /US National Weather Service/Earth Nullschool.)

Such melt outflow tends to slightly freshen sea surface waters. Freshening waters keep more heat locked into the ocean’s depths. They tend to cool the surface waters. And they slow down an ocean overturning circulation that, in the North Atlantic, drives the flow of the Gulf Stream.

A slowing Gulf Stream delivers less heat to this zone even as it piles more heat up off the North American Coast. As a result, a warm west, cool east dipole tends to develop. In the cool region south of Greenland, unusually strong storms have developed more and more frequently — with a dramatic impact on UK weather. The storms feed on this temperature differential even as they have gorged on heat and moisture streaming northward in a meridional flow over Western Europe. The results this year were nothing short of record-shattering.

Hottest and Wettest

For England and Wales, with temperatures ranging about 2 degrees Celsius above average for December, January and February, 2015-2016 probably beat out 2007 and 1989 as the hottest Winter on record. Meanwhile, Wales and Scotland saw the most rainfall ever recorded — with totals for both regions hitting around 756 millimeters or about two and one half feet. That’s even more rainfall than the previous record stormy Winter of 2013 and 2014.

Yet one more Gale

(Yet one more gale sets up to hammer Ireland, the UK and Scotland by Thursday. Four months of ongoing stormy conditions appears set to continue through to at least mid-March. Image source: NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center.)

These heavy rains set off severe floods and damaged homes, roads, and bridges throughout the UK with the worst damage focusing in on regions to the North. One heavy precipitation hot spot — Argyll — saw an extraordinary 1035 mm or 3.5 feet of rainfall over the three month period. The Met Office is quick to point out that though December, January and February were the wettest on record since 1910, heavy rainfall events began in November — resulting in what amounts to a relentless four month pounding as storm followed storm and flood followed flood.

And, it appears, this persistent and ongoing storm pattern has not yet changed. For the North Atlantic remains riled — setting up to hurl a new gale-force low at Ireland and the UK this week. With the weather pattern essentially stuck in stormy since November, folks from these regions have got to be asking — when’s it going to end? As storms continue to fire off in the dipole zone above, it appears it will likely last until at least mid-March.

Links:

The UK Met Office

NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center

World Ocean Heartbeat Fading

RTG-SST/NCEP /US National Weather Service/Earth Nullschool

Winter of 2015/2016 Wettest on Record for Scotland

Mystery Deepens Around Greenland Cold Spot

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Hat tip to TodaysGuestIs

Hat tip to Dan Combs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

UK Secretary of State For Climate In Blistering Portrayal of Media/Deniers: “It’s the Science, Stupid”

The UK’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate, Edward Davey, gave a blistering speech today on the subject of climate change. In it he heaped criticism upon the media and upon climate change deniers both for what he termed “blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness.”

Davey’s appeal for rationality on the subject of climate change is equal parts eloquence and firewater. Its much needed candor makes it a must read. So I’ve included the entire speech here for your perusal. Hat tip to Joe Romm for the catch:

INTRODUCTION

It’s a great pleasure to be here today supporting the work of the Met Office and your partners.

In a previous guise in the Business Department, I had Ministerial responsibility for the Met Office. In fact, I worked hard to transfer the Met Office from the Ministry of Defence, with my now Perm Sec, Stephen Lovegrove, than a Director General at BIS. Given the Met Office was a department with the Board of Trade, it was really a homecoming.

So I’m very proud of my association with Met Office.

And I learnt during my short period as your minister that Britain should be proud of its Met Office and our national excellence in weather and climate science.

After all, if there is one thing we Brits know about, it’s weather.

So it’s unsurprising that we created a weather forecasting service that is the envy of the world.

World class scientists doing world class work across the gamut of climate science.

With the backing it receives from Government and in collaboration with the academic community, including people represented here, the Met Office Hadley Centre is a key component of the UK’s national climate capability.

And this is a resource not just for Britain, but as we have heard about today, a resource for other countries too.

I applaud this initiative, the Met Office working alongside the Natural Environment Research Council and the Environment Agency, to build the Climate Service UK based on your record together of delivering climate data, science research and sound, evidence-based advice.

The Climate Service UK will, I’m sure, become an essential framework for advising on the risks and opportunities of a changing climate at home and abroad.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Here at home, yesterday, we marked a milestone in our modern history.

The 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Much has changed during her reign – not just in Britain, but across the globe.

There are more of us.

The population of Britain has increased by around a third.

In that same time, the global population has close to trebled to over 7 billion people.

Inevitably, as a planet we consume more.

Britain’s own energy use has increased by around 40% since the 1950s.

But global energy use is rising more quickly – doubling in the last 30 years alone.

And, as we have heard from the scientists here today, our climate has been changing – and is continuing to change.

Since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, average global surface temperature has risen by around ½ a degree Celsius.

All these changes are connected.

The rise in population accompanied by increasing development has fuelled a rise in energy consumption – the vast majority of it supplied by fossil fuels – which has meant more carbon in the atmosphere – which has meant a warmer planet.

The facts don’t lie, the physics is proven.

Climate change is real and it is happening now.

That’s what I want to talk about today – the science of climate change and the action we need to take limit it to manageable proportions.

So let me start with the science.

SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS

We reached another milestone this spring.

Carbon dioxide briefly reached 400 parts per million in the atmosphere – 40% higher than before the industrial revolution and most likely higher than at any point in the last 3 million years.

The physics is clear: greenhouse gas emissions trapped in the atmosphere have direct consequences: increasing temperatures; less ice and snow; sea levels rising; more risk of extreme weather. To name but a few.

Forecasts of the rate at which the world will warm in the future may differ – but all the traffic is in one direction.

The decade between 2000 and 2010 was the warmest in the global temperature record – warmer than the 90s, which was warmer than the 80s, which was warmer than the 70s.

And if we continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at the rate we are now, this will continue and will get worse.

On emissions and on such greenhouse gas emissions, I agree with what Oxford’s Professor Myles Allan wrote last week in the Mail on Sunday:

“As almost everyone agrees, they still have to come down.”

And how do we know all this to be true?

To coin a phrase, “it’s the science, stupid.”

It’s what the evidence tells us.

As and example, a recent survey of over 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers provides a startling picture of the consensus that exists in our scientific community.

97% of the climate experts who expressed an opinion agree that human activity is driving global warming.

Just 3% question man’s contribution.

3%.

Let me quantify that for you in a political way

If this was a general election vote, 97% of the vote would generate 630 MPs, the 3% just 20…..

…under a system of proportional representation of course.

And I don’t want to distract you.

And Survey’s like this are, of course, indicative rather than definitive. But when, as a policy maker, I am confronted with the evidence supported by such an overwhelming scientific consensus, I am clear, I am with the 97%.

And it frustrates me that there remains the need to confront those who loudly deny the basic proposition and seek to turn the public against the action required to meet the challenge.

DESTRUCTIVE SCEPTICISM

Of course there will always be uncertainties within climate science and the need for research to continue.

The world’s climate is one of the most complex and chaotic natural systems.

Forecasting and modelling will never be 100% perfect.

There will be divergences between modelling systems, re-appraisals of evidence or adjusted projections.

Healthy scepticism is part of that process.

We make progress by building on what we know, and questioning what we don’t.

But some sections of the press are giving an uncritical campaigning platform to individuals and lobby groups who reject, outright, the fact that climate change is a result of human activity.

Some who even deny the reality of climate change itself.

This is not the serious science of challenging, checking and probing.

This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity seeking contraversialism or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness.

You’ve probably got my point.

This tendency will seize upon the normal expression of scientific uncertainty and portray it as proof that all climate change policy is all hopelessly misguided – from pursuing renewable energy to emissions targets themselves.

By selectively misreading the evidence, they seek to suggest that climate change has stopped so we can all relax and burn all the dirty fuel we want without a care.

To some this maybe a superficially seductive message, but it is absolutely wrong and really quite dangerous.

Take the issue that the Head of the Hadley Centre, Prof. Stephen Belcher addressed in his talk: the smaller than expected rise in average global surface temperature in the last decade.

As has been explained today, this pause in surface temperature is a false summit.

We have seen this before in the recent past, periods with little warming after which global temperatures have continued to rise,.

The early 20th century and a period around the 1950s for example.

These are consistent with climate models which show similar plateaus.

Nothing in the basic physics of climate change has altered.

And surface temperature is but one indicator among many.

As a whole, the Earth continues to heat up.

The seas have continued to warm and sea levels to rise.

Arctic ice continues its long-term decline.

We have continued to see record-breaking weather events around the globe, and while each instance cannot be accurately attributed to climate change, we see the pattern and it should be a warning to us all what is at risk.

So climate change is most definitively not in reverse, I regret to say.

Unless we do something about it, the world is going to continue to get warmer and warmer – and the consequences for future generations will be severe.

The science tells us we cannot afford to relax, let up or wait for a miracle.

Those who argue against all the actions we are taking to reduce emissions, without any serious and viable alternative, are asking us to take massive gamble with the planet our children will inherit, in the face of all the evidence, against overwhelming odds.

No Government worth its salt would take that gamble.

And no political party worth voting for would make that argument.

So let me turn to how, politically and practically, this Government is getting on with bringing emissions down

REDUCING EMISSIONS

The goal has to be led by the science too.

Our main challenge is to agree international actions that will reduce emissions enough to avoid really dangerous climate change, keeping global temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

This is the level at which it is widely accepted that society can adapt to climate change.

Not without significant challenge and change, but manageable.

And to meet this scenario, we need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050, with greater cuts for the developed world, where per capita emissions are highest.

Every year we delay, the harder the target will be to reach, and the more severe the action required.

That is why the deadline of 2015 for a global deal for binding emissions reductions is really make or break.

Everything that we do between now and then has to be geared towards achieving success.

Let me set out how the UK is determined to make this happen by taking action at home, in Europe and on the global stage.

UK LEADING BY EXAMPLE

Here in Britain, building on the groundbreaking Climate Change Act of 2008 enacted under the previous Government, we are now acting to meet the domestic emissions targets we have set ourselves.

The Carbon Plan sets out how we can all achieve an 80% reduction by 2050.

Progressively decarbonising our energy sector, our transport, our economy.

Become much more energy efficient.

Encouraging the development of a diverse mix of low-carbon technologies, and lower-carbon fuels like gas, to meet our goals.

And this diversity is key.

We need to tap into all the viable low-carbon technology available and help to drive its commercial viability.

We cannot afford to turn our back on a technology that can contribute to the overall goal of emissions reduction – nuclear for instance or carbon capture and storage or on-shore wind.

None of these alone represent a single silver bullet, we need them all to contribute.

There is strength in a diversity of low-carbon platforms – including the flexibility to veer towards technologies as they mature and become more efficient and cost effective.

Putting all our eggs in one basket now, relying on a single immature technology such as carbon capture and storage for example, would be extremely dangerous – another huge gamble I’m not prepared to take.

And we would be utterly foolish to reject the development and use of lower-carbon fossil fuels such as gas to replace dirtier ones such as coal as a staging post on the way – particularly if this drives down emissions while other technologies mature.

The Energy Bill going through parliament at the moment is a key part of our domestic response – enabling low carbon technologies to compete in the electricity market and attract investment.

The Green Deal is designed to create a similar boom market in energy efficiency too.

This approach is win, win, win.

Win for the climate change policy as we reduce carbon emissions and transition to a lower-carbon economy.

Win for energy security and consumers as we diversify the energy mix and progressively wean ourselves off the volatile global fossil fuel market.

And win for the economy – for growth, jobs, research and development, as we unleash £110bn of private sector investment to modernise energy infrastructure in the decade alone.

UK LEADING THROUGH EUROPE

It is not only setting an example at home, we are leading through Europe too:

Building the necessary alliances to push through a substantive structural reform for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme which is a key mechanism in helping us to meet our climate change goals.

And making the case for an ambitious EU emissions reductions target for 2030.

By being a strong voice for emissions reduction in Europe, the UK is shaping the global debate in the run up to 2015.

Under the UN climate negotiations Framework, the UK negotiates as part of the EU, providing us with greater credibility and weight when it comes to dealing with the super-economies of China, India and the US.

Together we represent 504 million people and 25% of the world’s GDP (compared with 63 million people and 3% of the world’s GDP as the UK alone).

The EU has a real opportunity to be the driving force behind a new global deal that will see international action complementing the UK’s domestic action.

That is why the UK is arguing for Europe to adopt an ambitious emissions reduction target for 2030 of 50% on 1990 levels as part of Europe’s approach to the getting of a global deal in 2015.

So far, that’s the most ambitious target any Member State has proposed.

And even if such a global deal doesn’t come about, the EU should aim for a unilateral 40% reduction.

These targets are achievable, affordable and absolutely necessary if we are to limit climate change to manageable proportions.

Countries should be free to pick the mix of technologies to decarbonise their energy that suits their circumstances and are most likely to succeed for them: from energy efficiency to new nuclear; from carbon capture and storage to renewable heat.

Above all, we must keep our eyes on the prize: a binding global deal to reduce carbon emissions and limit climate change to manageable levels.

Without the EU adopting an ambitious approach, a global deal will be virtually impossible.

That is why the ambitious emissions target for the EU that we are arguing for is so important.

CONCLUSION

Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude today by referring back to where I began – With anniversaries.

There is another 60th anniversary we celebrated last month – that of the first climbers to reach the summit of Everest, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

Since then – as climbing technology has improved, gear has got lighter, and safer routes mapped – over 3,000 climbers have made it to the top, including the first octogenarian who summited a fortnight ago.

This just underlines the determination of the human spirit – and the progress of human ingenuity.

But those who scale today find an Everest that is changing rapidly.

It is not just the detritus of the constant human traffic.

As new study has found that with rising temperatures on the mountain, the snowline has shifted upwards by some 180 metres over the last half century.

These are weathervane events that should spur us to act.

When it comes to tackling climate change, as a global community, we have made it to base camp.

Science has given us an understanding of the scale of the problem we face.

And is providing us with the tools to tackle it.

Now we need to find the will to make the climb.

To harnessing all the ingenuity we can muster.

To tap that determination of the human spirit.

To build the low-carbon societies that we will need to survive through the next century and beyond.

The next few years will be definitive in the fight against climate change.

I am determined that together we grasp this opportunity.

Governments, scientists, campaigners, businesses, journalists, the whole of society.

The 97% working together to meet our collective responsibility to pass on to future generations a planet that can sustain them.

ENDS

I, for one, would have looked to see more about wind, solar, and EVs in this particular speech. But the push for an 80% reduction in UK emissions is a huge commitment. So my hat is off to Mr. Davey. Let’s hope he gets the commitment he’s pushing for.

Human Climate Change Is Wrecking the Jet Stream; UK Met Office Calls Emergency Meeting

cloverleaf jet stream

(Weather model showing forecast temperature, high and low pressure for April 20. What this clover-leaf pattern roughly represents is the new ‘normal’ shape of the jet stream. Image source: here)

The UK Met recently called an emergency meeting with the world’s top climate scientists to discuss how melting polar ice is radically altering that country’s weather. A permanent blocking high pressure system has formed over Greenland. This high has, effectively, caused the Arctic to invade the UK with increasing ferocity. The state is now so extreme that the Met is calling a meeting of the world’s climate experts to discuss what the future may hold.

Dr. Slingo, Britain’s top climate scientist notes how persistent high pressure systems are blocking the polar wind pattern from moving. What this means is that the weather simply cannot change. Increasingly, the UK has become a part of the Arctic. Slingo noted to ITV News:

If this is how climate change could manifest itself, then we need to understand that as a matter of urgency.

This meeting’s discussion will likely focus on how melting polar ice is dramatically altering the north polar jet stream and what future changes we can expect as sea ice continues to erode. Over the past year, Dr. Jennifer Francis has issued increasingly clear warning about the potential for extreme weather events due to polar sea ice erosion. Her warnings were then punctuated by an amazing and freakish superstorm: Sandy.

This winter, the increasingly powerful blocking high pumped warmer air into the Arctic even as typical Arctic weather was flushed south into the UK and Europe.

The New Clover-Leaf Jet Stream

In understanding this phenomena, it is important, first, to understand what is normal. During the 20th century, the polar jet stream ran swiftly around the northern hemisphere. For the most part, it served as the border between temperate regions of relatively warmer, milder climates and the much colder Arctic environment. This rapid jet served to keep colder air trapped in the Arctic and warmer air confined primarily to the south. Ripples in this jet stream were mild, looking almost like the wavy pattern of a stylized upside down fruit bowl. Invasions of warm air to the north and cold air to the south were rare and often resulted in strong storms that were then noted as ‘extreme’ weather events.

Today, things are radically different. Looking at the image above, we can see that the jet stream looks more like a mangled clover leaf than a gracefully arching bowl. This increasing clover leaf pattern is a result of a number of atmospheric dynamics. The first is that sea ice and Greenland ice are dramatically melting. Sea ice volume is 80 percent lower than it was in 1980 and Greenland is losing water at the rate of 250 cubic kilometers every year. This ice has an amazing ability to keep cold air locked in place, keeping the Arctic colder and, importantly, driving the jet stream to faster speeds. But, with the loss of this ice, the temperature difference between the Arctic and the southern latitudes is lessened. With more warmth in the Arctic, the jet stream has tended to slow down, meandering in these great, clover-like dips and whirls.

As the jet stream dips and whirls it tends to get stuck, staying in the same shape over the same location for long periods of time. This shape change is the result of certain features that push the jet into this new pattern. One is that more cold, reflective ice is in Greenland now than over the north pole. The result is that high pressure systems tend to form over Greenland rather than the north pole itself. The formation of this Greenland high many hundreds of miles to the south has severe weather implications for the UK and the rest of Europe. What it means, primarily, is much colder, stormier winters for Europe.

In other regions, warm air floods northward creating heatwaves. This was particularly true for the US during winter/spring of 2012. But an area not often mentioned is the west coast of Greenland and Baffin Bay which has experienced temperature averages more than 3 degrees Celsius hotter than normal for the entire winter. Last summer was also extraordinarily hot for Greenland, resulting in a record 150 year melt. In the above image, you can see these warm air invasions in the form of yellow and orange fingers pushing into the space of the colder greens and blues.

The new clover-leaf jet stream will not be easy for humans to manage. It will mean more persistent weather in a given region. And, if conditions are extreme, they will stay extreme for longer periods. More heatwaves, more cold snaps. More storms in areas where storms have become more prevalent.

Ironically, the new clover leaf jet stream causes one more self-reinforcing impact. It transports more warmer air into the Arctic. As such, it enhances the melt of ice which was the initial driver of extreme weather patterns in the first place. So, in this case, extreme conditions have the potential to snowball with a mangled jet stream resulting in more ice melt and more ice melt resulting in more extreme weather.

One last word and one last thing to think about. More and more the weather patterns resemble those roughly described by scientists as a Heinrich Event. Such events were characterized by rapid Arctic ice melt and resulting extreme weather and climate shifts. So it might be useful for climate scientists and the UK to discuss these geological events in the context of potential future weather. Because the UK, Europe and the rest of the world appear to be at the start of just such an event. The difference between this event and past events in the geological past is that the human forcing driving it is much greater than the previous natural forces that caused such changes. So it would be naive of us to hope that the current event will not also be more extreme than those seen in the past.

Links:

UK Met Calls Emergency Meeting to Discuss Climate Change

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: