40 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
44 F. average high on March 22.
55 F. high on March 22, 2016.
March 23, 1966: A snowstorm brings a foot of snow to southern Minnesota.
Gulf of Mexico Waters Are Freakishly Warm, Which Could Mean Explosive Springtime Storms. With unusually warm water in the Gulf and a persistent and powerful subtropical jet stream providing sufficient shear, there’s every reason to believe the upcoming severe weather season will be formidable, possibly the most severe in 5-6 years. Here’s an excerpt from Jason Samenow at Capital Weather Gang: “…The warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, in particular, could mean that thunderstorms that erupt over the southern and central United States are more severe this spring. Berger explained in his Ars Technica piece: “While the relationship is far from absolute, scientists have found that when the Gulf of Mexico tends to be warmer than normal, there is more energy for severe storms and tornadoes to form than when the Gulf is cooler.” Victor Gensini, a professor of meteorology at the College of DuPage, agreed that the warm Gulf could intensify storms this spring but cautioned that additional ingredients will need to come together. “The water is only one piece,” he said. An additional key component for severe thunderstorms is a phenomenon known as the elevated mixed layer, a zone of hot and dry air at high altitudes that develops over Mexico’s high plateau and can flow into the southern and central United States. When it interacts with the warm, moist air from the Gulf, the resulting instability can give rise to explosive thunderstorms…”
Map credit: “
Average March temperatures in Tokyo:1981-1990: 8.7°C [46.7°F]1991-2000: 9.4°C [48.92°F]2001-2015: 10.0°C [50°F]Average full blossoming dates of cherry trees in Tokyo:1981-1990: April 91991-2000: April 42001-2015: March 29
As the Captain: What Happens When Lightning Strikes a Plane? An interesting response at The Detroit Free Press: “…Lightning strikes will usually leave small burn marks or holes at the entry and exit point. Airplanes are designed to allow lightning to move along the skin of the airplane without doing damage. Occasionally, a static wick will be the victim of lightning exiting the airplane. I have been in airplanes that have sustained lightning strikes several times with very little damage…. In the air, airplanes are designed to dissipate the lightning quickly. I have been flying airplanes that were struck multiple times, and there was little or no damage sustained. All the surfaces are bonded, giving the lightning a pathway to pass back into the atmosphere. On the ground, there is a risk to people on the ramp if the airplane discharges the lightning. For the passengers, there is very little or no risk in either situation…”
Visualizing Uncertain Weather. Scientific American highlights research showing the power of maps to tell the story and quantify uncertainty: “…As defined by the National Hurricane Center, the cone, “represents the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone, and is formed by enclosing the area swept out by a set of circles (not shown) along the forecast track (at 12, 24, 36 hours, etc). The size of each circle is set so that two-thirds of historical official forecast errors over a 5-year sample fall within the circle.” But as a visualization—even with the on-image text disclaimer “NOTE: The cone contains the probable path of the storm center but does not show the size of the storm. Hazardous conditions can occur outside of the cone.”— that full context isn’t terribly clear...”
Is The Dark Really Making Me Sad? Here’s an excerpt of a fascinating look at how a lack of sunlight can impact people’s moods and mental health at Mosaic Science: “…Why should darker months trigger this tiredness and low mood in so many people? There are several theories, none of them definitive, but most relate to the circadian clock – the roughly 24-hour oscillation in our behaviour and biology that influences when we feel hungry, sleepy or active. This is no surprise given that the symptoms of the winter blues seem to be associated with shortening days and longer nights, and that bright light seems to have an antidepressive effect. One idea is that some people’s eyes are less sensitive to light, so once light levels fall below a certain threshold, they struggle to synchronise their circadian clock with the outside world. Another is that some people produce more of a hormone called melatonin during winter than in summer – just like certain other mammals that show strong seasonal patterns in their behaviour...”
Minnesota Utility’s Long-Term Plan Calls For More Renewables, Less Coal. Because they’re cheaper. Here’s an excerpt from Midwest Energy News: “Clean energy groups won a victory last week after Minnesota regulators approved a long-range plan by Otter Tail Power Company that will double its investment in wind power and close a coal plant within the next five years. Otter Tail’s updated 15-year “integrated resource plan” included suggestions from the groups Fresh Energy (which publishes Midwest Energy News), Wind on the Wires, Minnesota Center For Environmental Advocacy and Sierra Club. The plan calls for a portfolio with 400 megawatts (MW) of wind and 30 MW of solar; an ambitious energy efficiency goal; and the closing of the 140 MW Hoot Lake coal-fired plant in Fergus Falls by 2021. The utility — which serves customers in western Minnesota and the Dakotas — will generate more than 30 percent of its energy needs from renewables by 2031 under the plan...”
Energy Storage is America’s Industry to Lose. Will we rise to the opportunity? Here’s a clip from E&E News: “…She sees a market that is strapping on its boots for a steep and inexorable climb. Blunden and a growing number of experts believe that energy storage will be worth tens of billions of dollars in revenue within a decade, regardless of what the Trump administration does to harm or help. Batteries will start showing up everywhere, sending shock waves through the auto industry, the electric grid, the petroleum industry and the broader power sector, adding tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs to the economy. The question that Blunden keeps asking herself is whether that money and those jobs will go to Michigan and North Carolina, or flee to Shanghai or Seoul, South Korea. The problem, Blunden said, is that the United States is wandering into a global competition without much urgency or a plan. “Are we going to make the decision to take a significant share of the next wave of manufacturing growth globally?” Blunden asked. “Or are we just going to give it to [Asia]?…”
Image credit: “In the next decade, the energy storage industry will go from the familiar, like the iPhone, into much bigger applications like electric cars and the power grid.” Photos courtesy of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Pixabay, Dave Dugdale/Flickr (Tesla).
47% of Jobs Will Disappear in the Next 25 Years, Says Oxford University. White collar positions will continue to be disrupted, according to a summary at Big Think: “…According to Art Bilger, venture capitalist and board member at the business school, all the developed nations on earth will see job loss rates of up to 47% within the next 25 years, according to a recent Oxford study. “No government is prepared,” The Economist reports. These include blue and white collar jobs. So far, the loss has been restricted to the blue collar variety, particularly in manufacturing. To combat “structural unemployment” and the terrible blow it is bound to deal the American people, Bilger has formed a nonprofit called Working Nation, whose mission it is to warn the public and to help make plans to safeguard them from this worrisome trend. Not only is the entire concept of employment about to change in a dramatic fashion, the trend is irreversible…”
Image credit: BBC
Job-Stealing Robots? Millennials See Hope, Fear in Automation. Every threat is an opportunity, right? Here’s a clip from LinkedIn: “…Dramatic shifts in the how and the where of the future of work recently prompted my 15-year-old to ask, “Mom, are robots going to take my job someday?” Timely question. Deloitte Global’s latest survey of millennials shows many are asking the same thing. While they recognize the benefits of automation in terms of productivity and economic growth, they also see it providing opportunities for value-added or creative activities, or learning new skills:
- 40 percent see automation posing a threat to their jobs;
- 44 percent believe there will be less demand for their skills;
- 51 percent believe they will have to retrain; and
- 53 percent see the workplace becoming more impersonal and less human. Which is news that should make every CEO sit up and take notice, given this generation’s use of social media…”
TODAY: Few rain showers – damp. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 43
THURSDAY NIGHT: More showers. Low: 40
FRIDAY: Milder with showery rains, heaviest over southern Minnesota. Winds: NE 8-13. High: 49
SATURDAY: Early showers, then slow clearing. Wake-up: 38. High: near 50
SUNDAY: Mostly cloudy, cool breeze. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 37. High: 49
MONDAY: Still gray, cool and damp. Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 39. High: 48
TUESDAY: Partly sunny and milder. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 36. High: 56
WEDNESDAY: Fading sunshine, stronger winds. Winds: E 10-20. Wake-up: 38. High: 57
Record-Breaking Climate Change Pushes World into “Uncharted Territory”. The Guardian reports: “The record-breaking heat that made 2016 the hottest year ever recorded has continued into 2017, pushing the world into “truly uncharted territory”, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. The WMO’s assessment of the climate in 2016, published on Tuesday, reports unprecedented heat across the globe, exceptionally low ice at both poles and surging sea-level rise. Global warming is largely being driven by emissions from human activities, but a strong El Niño – a natural climate cycle – added to the heat in 2016. The El Niño is now waning, but the extremes continue to be seen, with temperature records tumbling in the US in February and polar heatwaves pushing ice cover to new lows…”
* The 28 page WMO (World Meteorological Organization) report on the climate is here.
More Extreme Weather Coming After Record 2016 Heat, WMO Says. Bloomberg provides more perspective on the WMO report: “Unusually warm weather in the Arctic is helping shift weather patterns this year from North America to the Middle East, after global warming shattered records in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Rising ocean temperatures that are melting polar ice sheets, killing marine life and flooding coastal communities may have increased more than previously reported last year, the WMO said in a report Tuesday. Average sea-surface temperatures hit their highest levels ever last year, and overall temperatures over sea and land were 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period. At least three times this winter, the Arctic has experienced the polar equivalent of a heat wave with Atlantic storms driving warm, moist air...” (Map credit: NOAA NCDC).
The Seasons Aren’t What They Used To Be. Here’s an excerpt of a poignant piece at The New York Times: “...Spring has been particularly hasty and irregular this year, but this is no anomaly. In the latter half of the 20th century, the spring emergence of leaves, frogs, birds and flowers advanced in the Northern Hemisphere by 2.8 days per decade. I’m nearly 50, so springtime has moved, on average, a full two weeks sinnce I was born. And you? We now experience climate change not only through the abstraction of science, but also through lived experience…” (Image credit: NOAA).
How Americans Think About Climate Change, in Six Maps. The New York Times has details: “Americans overwhelmingly believe that global warming is happening, and that carbon emissions should be scaled back. But fewer are sure that the changes will harm them personally. New data released by Yale researchers gives the most detailed view yet of public opinion on global warming...”
These Republicans Think Climate Change is Real. They Can See It In Their States. The symptoms of climate volatility will be harder to dismiss or deny. Here’s an excerpt from News & Observer: “Republicans may have a president and a congressional majority that doesn’t believe climate change is a big threat or that the cause is driven by human activity – but they also have a bloc of congressional lawmakers with very different views. About 13 of the House of Representatives’ 237 Republicans are part of the Climate Solutions Caucus. Among them, Florida Republican Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen represent south Florida, where rising sea levels pose a grave threat to coastal communities. “We’re already seeing the effects of rising sea levels,” Curbelo told reporters. “These are very real concerns.” The bipartisan caucus, which also has 13 Democrats, was established last year to promote economically viable options to reducing the risks from climate change. Though it hasn’t proposed specific legislation, it has brought some influential voices to the cause...”
Photo credit: “ Curtis Tate McClatchy
Republican Green Groups Seek to Temper Trump on Climate Change. Here’s a snippet from Reuters: “…Conservative green groups such as ConservAmerica and republicEn, along with politically neutral religious groups such as Catholic Climate Covenant and bipartisan groups such as the Citizens Climate Lobby, have ramped up efforts to recruit more congressional Republicans to work on addressing climate change since Trump’s election. Conservative environmental advocates promote what they call “free enterprise” solutions to climate change, like a carbon tax. That stands in contrast to the approach of liberal environmentalists under former President Barack Obama, who backed bans on certain kinds of oil drilling and regulations aimed at discouraging petroleum use. But whatever their differences, the conservative groups say they have an important role to play. “Conservatives now have a chance to earn back the trust of Americans on environmental issues,” said Alex Bozmoski, director of strategy for republicEn. “They can lead in a completely different direction that actually grows the economy while cutting greenhouse gasses…”
Climate Change is Certainly Causing More Powerful Storms. Here’s a clip from an article at Salon: “…The ‘100-year flood’ now occurs more often than once a century,” Hansen said. Michael E. Mann, Director of the Earth System Science Center and Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University, observed that the warming climate is actually causing more snow. “The oceans have been at record levels of warm the past two years (and climate change is a key contributor to that),” Mann said. “That record warmth means that there is more moisture in the atmosphere that is available both to help strengthen the storm and produce record snowfalls as the warm oceanic air is entrained in toward the eastern U.S. by the cyclonic winds of the storm. Climate model simulations indicate a likelihood for stronger, more snow-making storms, and that’s what we’re seeing...”
Superstorm Sandy file imagery: Mel Shapiro, NCAR.