Please Pass the (Half-Full) Glass of Good Weather!
Is the glass half-full or half-empty? That rustling sound you hear in the background is me grasping at straws, but please hear me out.
A real winter, the first old fashioned winter in 4 years, was a boon for businesses that rely on snow across the Midwest. 78 inches made up for the paltry 32 inches that fell on MSP last winter. The April 13-16 blizzard was a hassle, but 1-2 inches of liquid water helped to recharge soil moisture, lowering the risk of summer drought a bit.
April is running 13F colder than average, but it’s pushed back the onset of severe storm (and mosquito) season. Any of this helping? Sorry, I tried.
Bright sunshine returns today, with only an stray shower late Thursday. Dry weather prevails into Monday, when temperatures may approach 80F with a dash of humidity. You remember humidity, don’t you?
With 60s and 70s sparking rapid snow melt, we dodged a bullet not having to worry about heavy rain this week, which could have made river flooding far worse.
Next week looks much wetter as a frontal boundary stalls just to our south. Our lawns will green up fast!
Do You Feel Spring in your Bones? It turns out many of us are walking, talking barometers. Here’s an excerpt from a timely story at Chicago’s Daily Herald Business Ledger: “…Most people attribute it to temperature, but it’s actually due to barometric pressure.” Barometric pressure is a measurement of the air from sea level to the upper edge of the earth’s atmosphere. The science of how changes in the barometric pressure affect our bodies is pretty iffy, with some people reporting pain when barometric pressure falls and others saying a rise aggravates their aches. One factor that makes evaluations tricky is that pain is subjective. An ache that one person says is awful might not register a complaint from someone for whom pain has become acceptable. One study suggested that people didn’t complain about their aches on sunny days, even though the pain probably was just as bad then as it was on a cold and rainy day...”
GOES Imagery. The National Weather Service has a terrific selection of (free) imagery available here. Use your cursor to zoom into specific areas of interest. Your tax dollars at work.
Visible Imagery. With a higher sun angle the visible images from NOAA are looking better with every passing day. The resolution on the new GOES-16 is amazing. Image credit: NOAA and AerisWeather.
Snow-Free Extended Outlook. I just took out my driveway stakes – I pray that was the right move. Looking at the latest ECMWF (“Euro”) forecast for the Twin Cities high temperatures fluctuate either side of 60F the next 2 weeks with nights fairly consistently above 32F, meaning snow melt will continue – what snow is left. If the sun stays out for a few hours I still wouldn’t be surprised to see 80F on Monday. Graphic: WeatherBell.
Seasonably Mild Second Week of May. Jet stream winds are forecast to weaken, the coldest air lifting well north into northern Canada within 2 weeks, with a seasonably mild zonal flow for most of the USA.
Weather Hazards: April 27 to May 1. Drought continues to deepen from the southern Plains into the southwestern USA; while river flooding remains a risk fromm Monday into the Red River Valley and Minnesota River. Map credit: NOAA.
Wildfire Burns Quickly Through Pines Near Nisswa. Pineandlakes Echo Journal has details: “Weather turned fast in the Brainerd lakes area, going from snowstorm season to fire season. Snow cover took a beating over the weekend with temperatures in the upper 50s to lower 60s. Monday’s high reached 70 degrees—resulting in perfect conditions for fires. And fire season indeed arrived, as flames and smoke moved rapidly through a row of pine trees and grasses Monday afternoon along Crow Wing County Highway 4, burning close to 20 acres in Lake Edward Township, east of Nisswa...”
Latest Flood Forecasts. For crest forecasts from the National Weather Service for specific towns across the state click here.
River Flood Warnings. The Twin Cities National Weather Service has issued Flood Warnings for some communities south and west of the Twin Cities, mainly along the Minnesota River. For details click here.
Map credit: AerisWeather.
Flood Potential Along the Mississippi River. Click here for the latest flood statement from the National Weather Service.
Forecast Assessment For Historic April 13-16 Blizzard. The Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service assesses their own forecast performance: “A slow moving, large low pressure system with copious amounts of cold air and moisture provided multiple rounds of precipitation from the early morning hours of April 13th through the early morning hours of April 16th. The precipitation began as showers and thunderstorms across southern Minnesota which lasted into the evening of April 13th. Precipitation then turned to snow from north to south during the evening. Light snow persisted into the early morning hours of the 14th, before much heavier snow developed by mid morning and continued into early on the 15th. The combination of visibility being so poor due to the intensity of the snow and wind gusts exceeded 35 mph prompted our office to issue the first Blizzard Warning for Minneapolis and St. Paul since the Halloween Blizzard in 1991. The initial Winter Storm Watch was issued during the afternoon of April 11th. Blizzard Warnings were issued in the afternoon of April 12th for portions of west central Minnesota, with Winter Storm Warnings issued further east during the evening of April 12th. Blizzard Warnings were expanded eastward a few times, eventually reaching the Twin Cities area by early afternoon on April 14th…”
2018 Ice Out Dates. The Minnesota DNR has a running tally here.
Winter Snowfall Departure. Snowfall for much of Minnesota was 1-3 feet above normal for the season. Note the lack of snow across the central and southern Rockies, but generally – it was a good winter for snow lovers living in the northern third of the USA.
Map credit: Greg Carbin, NOAA.
3 Ways Hurricane Forecasts Will Be Improved This Season: National Hurricane Center. NOLA.com has an informative post; here’s a clip: “…The center, a sub-agency within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), released a list of enhanced services it will use in the 2018 hurricane season to create more specific forecasting and give residents more preparation time.
- Expect more warning and watch info than 2 days and up to 5 days in advance. The NHC’s formal advisory package, which includes warnings and watches for hazards such as storm surge and tornadoes, will routinely be released 72 hours in advance, as opposed to the previous 48-hour protocol. When conditions warrant, forecasts will be available as far as five days in advance.
- The cone of uncertainty is shrinking. The “tropical cyclone track error cone” depicts the likely track of a storm over the course of twelve hour increments. It is the typical ice cream cone graphic that appears on television forecasts. This year, the NHC expects those cones to be a bit smaller and therefore more accurate...”
What is a Tornado Emergency? AccuWeather has a good explainer; here’s an excerpt: “…However, when a large, destructive tornado is already on the ground for an extended period of time and approaching a populated area, the NWS can issue a tornado emergency. “A tornado emergency means that significant, widespread damage with a high likelihood of numerous fatalities is expected to continue with a strong and violent tornado,” the NWS said. A tornado emergency is a call to action that people need to react to immediately. When one is issued, a confirmed tornado is causing life-threatening conditions and people need to seek shelter if they haven’t already…”
The Little Rock office of the National Weather Service has more information on Tornado Emergencies here.
These “Dirty Thunderstorms” Fill the Sky With As Much Smoke as Volcanic Eruptions. LiveScience explains: “Wildfires can fuel “dirty” thunderstorms that fill the stratosphere with as much smoke as a volcanic eruption. That revelation comes from a study on the biggest fire-fueled thunderstorm event on record, which occurred on the night of Aug. 12, 2017, in British Columbia, Canada. Last year was a record breaker for wildfires in that region. And on that August evening, the heat from fires burning in relatively remote forests in British Columbia combined with the right atmospheric conditions to generate a series of four thunderstorms in a 5-hour period...”
Rising Sea Levels Reshaping Miami’s Housing Market. A story at The Wall Street Journal caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…Low-elevation properties are becoming Miami’s laggards, he said. “To see them really separate is pretty shocking, because you can infer that this is a pricing signal from climate change.” Miami is a testing ground for the vulnerability of housing markets in other coastal cities, such as New York and Boston, because its elevation is as little as one foot above sea level and its porous limestone makes it especially vulnerable to rising sea levels. Another new paper, from researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Pennsylvania State University, shows that the trend in Miami is playing out across the country, with homes that are vulnerable to rising sea levels now selling at a 7% discount compared with similar but less-exposed properties. The paper, which is under peer review, shows that the size of the coastal discount has grown over time…”
Map credit above: European Space Agency (satellite image), Miami-Dade County Open Data, researchers at Harvard University.
The Trillion-Dollar Coastal Property Bubble is Ready to Burst, Per New Study. ThinkProgress has more perspective on the inevitable retreat from many coastal areas: “…A 2014 Reuters analysis of this “slow-motion disaster” calculated there’s almost $1.25 trillion in coastal property whose value is being propped up by the National Flood Insurance Program’s below-market rates. “The risk will rise as sea levels rise, and when that happens, you’d expect your property value to fall,” as Lloyd Dixon, the director of the RAND Center for Catastrophic Risk Management and Compensation, explained in October. “At some point, the property becomes worthless…”
File photo credit: 2010, Nags Head, North Carolina. John D. Simmons, Charlotte Observer.
Miami Housing Market May Soon Be Under Water, Research Says: More perspective from Climate Nexus: “Rising sea levels are already beginning to reshape the real estate market in Miami, a new study shows, with potential implications for other property markets across the country. The research, published Friday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, shows that the prices of single-family homes at lower elevations are rising more slowly than those at higher elevations, suggesting that buyers and sellers are weighing the implications of short-term flooding and long-term coastal change. Evidence that low-level homes are falling behind homes at higher elevations “is pretty shocking,” paper author Jesse Keenan told the Wall Street Journal, “because you can infer that this is a pricing signal from climate change.” (Wall Street Journal $, The Real Deal, Fortune)
Disasters Are Costing Us More. Why Aren’t We Insuring More? Bloomberg takes a look at the trends: “Last year was the second-costliest year for disasters since 1970, according to a new analysis from reinsurance firm Swiss Re AG. Global economic losses from these events reached $337 billion in 2017, behind only 2011’s total losses, and less than 40 percent were insured. A close look at Swiss Re’s data reveals several worrying trends. Losses from natural and man-made disasters are increasing, markets are not getting better at insuring them, and our own choices aren’t helping. First, the natural disaster losses. As I’ve written before, it’s hard not to notice the hurricane and flood years (Katrina in 2005; the Japan earthquake and tsunami and Thailand floods in 2011; Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017)...”
Graphic credit: Swiss Re AG. “Note: “Economic losses” = sum of insured and uninsured losses, in 2017 dollars.”
Will a Huge New Flood Barrier Save Venice? MSN.com has the article: “…Whatever the date, it still remains unclear whether MOSE will adequately protect the city. And if so, for how long? MOSE operates on the principle of tidal gates. In calm weather, the gates fill with water and sit on the seabed. But when a high tide threatens, the water is pushed out by compressed air that’s pumped in. This allows the gates to surface and prevent the tide from entering the lagoon. When the surge subsides, the gates again fill with water and sink back to the bottom. “The idea is quite old,” said Paola Malanotte-Rizzoli, a physical oceanographer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was among the panel of experts enlisted by the Italian government to come up with a solution. “We have evidence that Venetian engineers drafted mechanical contraptions to hold back the sea as long ago as in the 18th century…”
Photo credit: “Tourists walk on raised platforms above flood waters during a period of seasonal high water and on the first day of Carnival, in Venice, on February 1, 2015.” Reuters/Stefano Rellandini/File.
California’s Water Whiplash Is Only Going to Get Worse. WIRED.com has the story: “…Soil cores and climate models tell scientists that megafloods like this one have happened about once every 200 years. Which, if you’re doing the math, means the state is due. That’s not the bad news. The bad news is that by the middle of the century, a megaflood could be striking California every couple of decades. That’s according to a new study out today in Nature Climate Change, which predicts up to a 100 percent increase in extreme precipitation swings across California over the next seven decades. “A lot of people have done the version of the analysis where they look at the mean precipitation change, and find it’s close to zero or uncertain,” says Daniel Swain, a climate scientist and the study’s lead author. That makes it seem like things will stay about the same going forward…”
Image credit: “Precipitation whiplash events are expected to significantly increase in frequency across California in the coming decades.” Swain, et al., Nature Climate Change
Unleashing the Power of Real-Time Weather Data in Advertising Campaigns. AerisWeather has the post; here’s the intro: “It’s no secret that weather affects the buying decisions of consumers. Beachgoers buy suntan lotion and ice cream during the dog days of summer on the Jersey Shore while their friends in Minnesota stock up on fashionable snow boots and scarves as November turns to December. There’s a certain seasonal rhythm to these purchasing habits – whether it be consumer goods, food or travel. For decades, advertisers have leveraged the calendar and the cyclical nature of purchasing with what I like to call “low-tech” campaigns. But today’s programmatic advertisers require more contextual data. And weather data – the one thing that’s been behind human decision-making around the globe for generations – is the #1 contextual dataset at your fingertips. Now it’s up to our generation to put it to use...”
Backed by Bill Gates, EarthNow Wants to Show Us Every Inch of our Planet, In Real-Time. ZDNet explains: “EarthNow has secured funding from Bill Gates and other prominent investors to develop and deploy a planet-wide web of satellites. The space imaging startup has closed its first round of funding, gaining the backing of not only Bill Gates, but also Airbus, the SoftBank Group, and OneWeb founder Greg Wyler. The financial details of the funding and amounts offered by each investor have not been disclosed. Through the creation and deployment of advanced imaging satellites supported by machine intelligence, EarthNow wants to show us our planet in “real time, all the time.” The Intellectual Ventures spinout, founded in 2017, hopes to offer continuous real-time video of Earth, both live and unfiltered...”
Trump Like Coal, But That Doesn’t Mean He’s Hostile to Wind. A story at AP caught my eye: “…The administration is looking to renewable energy sources to help create “energy dominance” that will guarantee America is a leading global energy exporter and can’t be held hostage by foreign energy-producing powers, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says — even as Trump’s plan to expand offshore drilling has drawn harsh criticism from environmentalists and coastal state governors of both parties. “On designated federal lands and off-shore, this means an equal opportunity for all sources of responsible energy development, from fossil fuels to the full range of renewables,” Zinke said in a recent op-ed in The Boston Globe. “As we look to the future, wind energy — particularly offshore wind — will play a greater role in sustaining American energy dominance…”
A Wind Lover’s Dream. All 57,636 U.S. Wind Turbines on One Map. Bloomberg reports: “Wind-turbine geeks prepare to be happy. Thanks to a new online database, details on every one of the 57,636 operating turbines in the U.S. are only a mouse-click away. The project, unveiled Thursday by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Energy, is “more accurate, and updated more often” than any existing turbine data sets and offers valuable details to government agencies, researchers and anyone else with a keen interest in wind power, according to a statement...”
Map credit: “The U.S. Wind Turbine Database.” Source: The U.S. Wind Turbine Database.
People Voted for Trump Because They Were Anxious, Not Poor. The Atlantic explains: “…Less-educated whites were President Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters. But why, exactly? Was their vote some sort of cri de coeur about a changing economy that had left them behind? Or was the motivating sentiment something more complex and, frankly, something harder for policy makers to address? After analyzing in-depth survey data from 2012 and 2016, the University of Pennsylvania political scientist Diana C. Mutz argues that it’s the latter. In a new article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, she added her conclusion to the growing body of evidence that the 2016 election was not about economic hardship. “Instead,” she writes, “it was about dominant groups that felt threatened by change and a candidate who took advantage of that trend...”
Photo credit: “Stephen Lam / Reuters.
Can America’s Two Tribes Learn to Live Together? We had author Amy Chua on our WCCO Radio Show a couple weeks ago discussing this – here’s an excerpt from New York Magazine: “…Something like this narrative has been repeated countless times in analyses of the 2016 election, but any recognition that cultural anxiety drove white Trump support is typically taken as proof that these voters were motivated by racism, or “racial resentment,” to use the social-science term of art. From Chua’s perspective, however, they are simply doing what you would expect most groups in most places to do most of the time: hold on to whatever power they have, an impulse that becomes all the more desperate the more tenuous that hold on power becomes. Chua does not intend this as an excuse for white racism, and she is emphatic that ethnonationalism lite is not a viable way forward for an increasingly diverse country — minorities are not going back in the closet, so to speak...”
Want to Feel Unique? Believe in the Reptile People. Because who doesn’t like a good conspiracy theory? Big Think has the post; here’s a clip: “…As Karl Popper noted in Conjectures and Refutations (1963), some people tend to attribute anything they dislike to the intentional design of a few influential ‘others’. While conspiracy theories have long existed, the internet has accelerated their circulation (like the circulation of all information). Who believes in conspiracies, and what might these people have in common? There are, of course, differences in the plausibility of any one conspiracy theory. In a 2013 poll, every second United States citizen questioned seemed convinced that there was some larger conspiracy at work in the assassination of the president John F Kennedy in 1963, while ‘only’ 4 per cent endorsed the notion that ‘shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining power’. (Still a somewhat unnerving 12 million people.)...”
Photo credit: “Surveyor 3 with Apollo 12 lander in background.” Credit: Wikimedia, Moon landing conspiracy theories.
Infographic: How Dangerous Is Your Daily Commute? Public transportation is sounding better and better. Big Think explains: “…2016 was the most lethal year since 2007 for American drivers, with nearly 40,000 people losing their lives in accidents. To assess how many of those were commuting-related, Injury Claim Coach tracked fatalities by the times of day in which they occurred. They concluded 24% of them, or 1 in 4, occurred during morning or evening drive times. Taking a train is definitely safer. Or a bus. Evening claimed the lion’s share of deaths: 62%. The most dangerous day is, interestingly, Friday, so celebrating the start of the weekend before arriving home is getting a little ahead of oneself. And September and October are especially deadly months—iffy weather, slippery leaves on the roads?…”
Graphic credit: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
World Wine Output Falls to 60 Year Low. This should have been the lead story huh? Reuters has the horrific details: “Global wine output fell to its lowest level in 60 years in 2017 due to poor weather conditions in the European Union that slashed production in the bloc, international wine organisation OIV said. Wine production totaled 250 million hectoliters last year, down 8.6 percent from 2016, data from the Paris-based International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) released on Tuesday showed. It is the lowest level since 1957, when it had fallen to 173.8 million hectoliters, the OIV told Reuters. A hectoliter represents 100 liters, or the equivalent of just over 133 standard 75 cl wine bottles. All top wine producers in the EU have been hit by harsh weather last year, which lead to an overall fall in the bloc of 14.6 percent to 141 million hectoliters...”
Astronaut, Nobel Prize Winners in Minnesota to Inspire Young Innovators. Bring Me The News has details: “Some of the world’s foremost minds are in Minnesota this week to inspire the next generation of thinkers. An event sponsored by 3M and Nobel Media will see a trio of Nobel Prize-winning scientists and a celebrated astronaut speak before students and researchers at several events on Wednesday and Thursday….Part of the Nobel Prize Inspiration Series, the scientists will host lectures, discussion panels and Q&A sessions at the University of Minnesota, the Science Museum of Minnesota and 3M’s offices in Maplewood. Those listed on the schedule include NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who will speak at 3M on Thursday about: “Science Skeptic or Supporter? Why It Matters….”
Photo credit: Scott Kelly, Facebook.
The Got Him What? A Look Into the Art of Presidential Gift-Giving. The Washington Post has a chuckle-inducing story: “…During a 2011 visit to Australia, President Barack Obama received crocodile insurance from the head of the Northern Territory. You know, in case the president got in a terrible accident while visiting the croc hot spot. “I have to admit, when we reformed health care in America, crocodile insurance is one thing we left out,” Obama said with a chuckle. President George W. Bush got a stuffed dead lion and leopard from Tanzania. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan received a baby elephant on the White House lawn dressed in traditional clothing when Sri Lanka’s president visited. While that may be over-the-top, the animal represented the friendship and similarities between the countries…”
Photo credit: “President Ronald Reagan, right, receives a baby elephant from the president of Sri Lanka, second from right, in 1984.” (Photo: National Archives and Records Administration).
0″ snow on the ground at Twin Cities International Airport.
66 F. maximum temperature yesterday.
62 F. average high on April 24.
72 F. high on April 24, 2017.
April 25, 1996: Heavy snow falls over northern Minnesota, including 10 inches of snow at Baudette. The International Falls Airport is forced to close for only the second time in history.
WEDNESDAY: Bright sunshine. Winds: NW 5-10. High: 62
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear. Low: 42
THURSDAY: Clouds increase, stray PM shower. Winds: NW 8-13. High: near 60
FRIDAY: Peeks of sun. Showers over Wisconsin. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 40. High: 62
SATURDAY: Blue sky, less wind. A fine day. Winds: E 3-8. Wake-up: 43. High: 64
SUNDAY: Couch Potato Alert. Lukewarm sunshine. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 47. High: near 70
MONDAY: Touch of summer. Few storms late? Winds: S 15-25. Wake-up: 54. High: 78
TUESDAY: Showers linger, few T-storms. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 58. High: 71
Pipeline Protesters May Use Necessity Defense, MN Court Rules: Climate Nexus has details: “Anti-pipeline activists awaiting trial for shutting off a pipeline will be allowed to use climate change as a key part of their defense, a Minnesota court ruled Monday. The Minnesota Court of Appeals sided with four activists who turned emergency valves on two Enbridge Energy oil pipelines in 2016, ruling that the protesters may use a “necessity defense” in their upcoming criminal trial, including calling experts to testify on climate science and the consequences of climate inaction. “This is a big win for anyone who cares about climate change,” said Climate Defense Project attorney Kelsey Skaggs, who is on the activists’ defense team. “The climate necessity defense is an important tool for pushing back against efforts by the federal government and industry to silence opposition to the reckless development of fossil fuels.” AP, ThinkProgress
Latest Climate Threat for Coastal Cities: More Rich People. Because many low-income residents can’t afford to keep rebuilding. Bloomberg reports; here’s an excerpt: “…Irma was only the start of their troubles. The Florida Keys building code effectively prohibits replacing or substantially repairing damaged mobile homes because of their vulnerability to hurricanes. That leaves people living in one of the nearly 1,000 trailers and RVs damaged or destroyed by the storm with three options: find sturdier but more expensive accommodation, repair or replace the homes and hope code officials don’t notice, or leave the Keys. “There’s no place to live,” said Sharon Baron. Around the country, the government’s response to extreme weather is pushing lower-income people like the Barons away from the waterfront, often in the name of safety. Those homes, in turn, are often replaced with more costly houses, such as those built higher off the ground and are better able to withstand storms. Housing experts, economists and activists have coined the term “climate gentrification...”
Photo credit: Photographer: Alicia Vera/Bloomberg..
Energy Department Predicts How Extreme Climate and Weather Will Disrupt US Energy Systems. Here’s a clip from Forbes: “The Department of Energy (DOE) has just released their state of the art model built to predict how climate change and weather will impact energy systems here in the United States. There is no other governmental agency more eager to understand how encroaching seas, category 5 hurricanes, and heat waves will impact energy consumption and potentially energy strain on the US energy system. In collaboration with several DOE National Laboratories, the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) has been released to the general public and broader scientific community after four years of development. The E3SM model was built to predict how climate and weather variability will impact the US energy systems in the decades to come...”
Image credit: E3SM Earth System Model.
NASA Baffled by Mysterious Ice Circles in the Arctic. The Washington Post has a head-scratcher of a story: “Add this to the ever-growing list of things you have to worry about: Somewhere in the Arctic sea ice, where the temperatures are typically below freezing on even the balmiest days, there is a random pattern of holes, and NASA — the rocket scientists who took us to the moon and want to take us to Mars — can’t figure out what they are. NASA has spent the past decade flying over Earth’s Arctic and Antarctic regions in an attempt to understand the connections between the world’s climate systems, and to look at global warming’s effect on some of the coldest places on Earth. The missions have a name straight out of a James Bond novel: Operation IceBridge…”
Photo credit: “NASA has no idea what is causing these ice holes in Arctic sea ice.” (NASA)
Weather Whiplash Set to Ramp Up in CA: Headlines and links from Climate Nexus: “Climate change will increase “weather whiplash” in California as the state will increasingly swing between intense wet and dry periods, according to new research. A study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change predicts that while the long-term average annual precipitation in the state won’t vary greatly, California may experience intense precipitation extremes in the future, as the frequency of whiplash events is set to double in Southern California by 2100. The study also finds that drastic events like the state’s megaflood of 1861-1862, which put much of the state underwater in a 43-day deluge, could become three times more likely as the planet warms.” (LA Times $, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, Wired, KQED, Earther, Mashable, CBS)
Climate Change is a National Security Threat. The Houston Chronicle has an Op-Ed that’s worth a read: “…In the absence of congressional or presidential leadership on climate, the military has begun its own internal risk assessment around climate change. As one of the world’s largest landowners, the U.S. military owns and operates a massive real estate portfolio — much of which is ill-prepared for the rising seas, extreme heat and uncertainty that climate change portends. More troubling, climate scientists expect it to spread drought, famine and poverty across much of the globe, destabilizing nations and creating new and unmanageable resource conflicts that will further stressing an already over-extended military. Along the nation’s coast, the cost of climate change denialism is placing the vast, productive and vital cluster of shipping lanes, ports, railways and freight movement facilities at tremendous and unnecessary risk…”
What Happened to Winter? Vanishing Ice Convulses Alaskans’ Way of Life. Details via The Guardian: “…But the past winter, following a string of warm years, points to a pace of change not before experienced by this community. The winter was the warmest on record in the Arctic, with sea ice extent hitting record lows in January and February, ending up at the second-smallest seasonal peak in the 39-year satellite record in March. The smallest was in 2017. The Bering Sea, which separates Alaska and Russia, lost a third of its winter ice in just eight February days. Otherworldly temperatures were felt across the region, with the weather station closest to the North Pole spending more than 60 hours above freezing in February, around 25C (45F) warmer than normal, which is equivalent to Washington DC spending a February day at 35C (95F) or Miami baking at 51C (124F). The Arctic was, in spells, warmer than much of Europe…”
Here’s How Fast a Glacier Can Slip Into the Sea Once It’s Destabilized. A story at Quartz explains: “There’s a foreboding climate-change lesson nestled in the Chugach Mountains of southeastern Alaska. Or rather, the lesson is in the 12-plus miles of bare sea and land where a glacier once stood. When a British expedition led by George Vancouver first surveyed it (pdf) in 1794, the Columbia Glacier was a site to behold: It snaked 43 miles (70 km) through the Chugach Mountains before meeting the sea, where it extended to nearly fill the Columbia Bay in the Prince William Sound. And that’s where it stayed, more or less, until the mid-1980s, when its “terminus” (the nose of the glacier) slipped off its “moraine” (an underwater ridge of ice and rock, built by the force of a glacier over time, that holds a glacier in place). That initial slip completely changed the fate of the Columbia Glacier, and it was likely due to climate change…”
Image credit: “The Columbia Glacier in Alaska has retreated 12 miles in 30 years.” (Pictured here in September 2016) (NASA).
Can You Guess What America Will Look Like in 10,000 Years? I only got 6 out of 10 correct. Take the interactive quiz from The New York Times.
The Scientific Importance of Free Speech. A presentation highlighted at Quillette caught my eye; here’s the intro: “A quick Google search suggests that free speech is a regarded as an important virtue for a functional, enlightened society. For example, according to George Orwell: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Likewise, Ayaan Hirsi Ali remarked: “Free speech is the bedrock of liberty and a free society, and yes, it includes the right to blaspheme and offend.” In a similar vein, Bill Hicks declared: “Freedom of speech means you support the right of people to say exactly those ideas which you do not agree with”. But why do we specifically need free speech in science? Surely we just take measurements and publish our data? No chit chat required. We need free speech in science because science is not really about microscopes, or pipettes, or test tubes, or even Large Hadron Colliders. These are merely tools that help us to accomplish a far greater mission, which is to choose between rival narratives, in the vicious, no-holds-barred battle of ideas that we call “science”…”
She Tried to Report on Climate Change. Sinclair Told Her to Be More “Balanced”. BuzzFeed News has the story: “Sinclair Broadcast Group executives reprimanded and ultimately ousted a local news reporter who refused to seed doubt about man-made climate change and “balance” her stories in a more conservative direction. Her account, detailed in company documents she provided to BuzzFeed News, offers a glimpse at the inner workings of a media giant that has sought to both ingratiate itself to President Donald Trump and cast itself as an apolitical local news provider — a position the documents undermine. In one 2015 instance, the former news director of WSET-TV in Lynchburg, Virginia, Len Stevens, criticized reporter Suri Crowe because she “clearly laid out the argument that human activities cause global warming, but had nothing from the side that questions the science behind such claims and points to more natural causes for such warming…”