Connecting the dots between climate change and extreme weather

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:15 PM GMT on May 04, 2012

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Connecting the dots between human-caused climate change and extreme weather events is fraught with difficulty and uncertainty. One the one hand, the underlying physics is clear--the huge amounts of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide humans have pumped into the atmosphere must be already causing significant changes to the weather. But the weather has huge natural variations on its own, without climate change. So, communicators of the links between climate change and extreme weather need to emphasize how climate change shifts the odds. We've loaded the dice towards some types of extreme weather events, by heating the atmosphere to add more heat and moisture. This can bring more extreme weather events like heat waves, heavy downpours, and intense droughts. What's more, the added heat and moisture can change atmospheric circulation patterns, causing meanders in the jet stream capable of bringing longer-lasting periods of extreme weather. As I wrote in my post this January, Where is the climate headed?, "The natural weather rhythms I've grown to used to during my 30 years as a meteorologist have become significantly disrupted over the past few years. Many of Earth's major atmospheric circulation patterns have seen significant shifts and unprecedented behavior; new patterns that were unknown have emerged, and extreme weather events were incredibly intense and numerous during 2010 - 2011. It boggles my mind that in 2011, the U.S. saw 14 - 17 billion-dollar weather disasters, three of which matched or exceeded some of the most iconic and destructive weather events in U.S. history."


Figure 1. Women who work on a tea farm in Assam, India hold up a dot in honor of Climate Impacts Day (May 5, 2012), to urge people to connect the dots between climate change and the threat to their livelihood. Chai is one of the most consumed beverages in India, but a prolonged dry spell and extreme heat has affected tea plantations in Assam and Bengal with production dropping by 60% as compared to the same period in 2011. Image credit: 350.org.

May 5: Climate Impacts Day
On Saturday, May 5 (Cinco de Mayo!), the activist group 350.org, founded by Bill McKibben, is launching a new effort to "connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather." They've declared May 5 Climate Impacts Day, and have coordinated an impressive global effort of nearly 1,000 events in 100 countries to draw attention to the links between climate change and extreme weather. Their new climatedots.org website aims to get people involved to "protest, educate, document and volunteer along with thousands of people around the world to support the communities on the front lines of the climate crisis." Some of the events planned for Saturday: firefighters in New Mexico will hold posters with dots in a forest ravaged by wildfires; divers in the Marshall Islands take a dot underwater to their dying coral reefs; climbers on glaciers in the Alps, Andes, and Sierras will unfurl dots on melting glaciers with the simple message: "Melting"; villagers in Northeastern Kenya will create dots to show how ongoing drought is killing their crops; in San Francisco, California, aerial artist Daniel Dancer and the Center for Biological Diversity will work with hundreds of people to form a giant, moving blue dot to represent the threat of sea level rise and ocean acidification; and city-dwellers in Rio de Janeiro hold dots where mudslides from unusually heavy rains wiped out part of their neighborhood. I think its a great way to draw attention to the links between climate change and extreme weather, since the mainstream media coverage of climate change has been almost nil the past few years. A report by Media Matters for America found out that nightly news coverage about climate change on the major networks decreased 72% between 2009 and 2011. On the Sunday shows, 97% of the stories mentioning climate change were about politics in Washington D.C. or on the campaign trail, not about extreme weather or recent scientific reports. You can check out what Climate Impacts Day events may be happening in your area at the climatedots.org website.


Figure 2. Front Street Bridge on the Susquehanna River in Vestal, NY, immediately following the flood of September 8, 2011. Image credit: USGS, New York. In my post, Tropical Storm Lee's flood in Binghamton: was global warming the final straw? I argue that during September 8, 2011 flood, the Susquehanna River rose twenty feet in 24 hours and topped the flood walls in Binghamton by 8.5 inches, so just a 6% reduction in the flood height would have led to no overtopping of the flood walls and a huge decrease in damage. Extra moisture in the air due to global warming could have easily contributed this 6% of extra flood height.

Also of interest
Anti-coal activists, led by climate scientist Dr. James Hansen of NASA, are acting on Saturday to block Warren Buffett's coal trains in British Columbia from delivering coal to Pacific ports for shipment overseas. Dave Roberts of Grist explains how this may be an effective strategy to reduce coal use, in his post, "Fighting coal export terminals: It matters".

The creator of wunderground's new Climate Change Center, atmospheric scientist Angela Fritz, has a blog post on Friday's unveiling of the new Heartland Institute billboards linking mass murderers like Charles Manson and Osama Bin Laden to belief in global warming. In Heartland's description of the billboard campaign, they say, "The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen." The Heartland Institute neglected to mention that the Pope and the Dalai Lama are prominent advocates of addressing the dangers of human-caused climate change.

Jeff Masters

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May 5, 2012 SST Anomaly
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 8489
Quoting weatherh98:


It's a beautiful day out so I'll be able too



enjoy the view !!!
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Quoting WeatherfanPR:
anyone see the moon ?


It's a beautiful day out so I'll be able too
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539

Wet eastern Caribbean and northern south america
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 8489
anyone see the moon ?
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Quoting nofailsafe:


What are you using to make those graphics, looks a little like GEMPAK.


It is GEMPAK
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting RTSplayer:


Pontius Pilate

Ironic, that a person who doesn't know what "truth" is would be put in a place to judge civil law.

The hypocrite admitted he found no fault in Jesus, but he had him scourged anyway.

A fine example of how dangerous is the philosophy of subjective truth or subjective morality.


And then washed his hands of it
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
.


Are u near the MCS in north Carolina?
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
it should spit something out soon its only 10 days away till opening day

I should think so
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 8489
hmmm...it looks like they're 5 minutes late. maybe they see something we don't?

The National Weather Service in Cheyenne has issued a

* Tornado Warning for...
southern Kimball County in the Panhandle of Nebraska...

* until 615 PM MDT

* at 535 PM MDT... National Weather Service Doppler radar indicated a
severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado. This dangerous
storm was located 8 miles southeast of Pine Bluffs... or 16 miles
southwest of Kimball... and moving southeast at 30 mph. In addition
to the potential tornado... this storm is also capable of producing
large destructive hail to the size of baseballs.

* Locations impacted include...
Kimball... Oliver campground... Oliver Reservoir and Kimball Airport.

This includes Interstate 80 in Nebraska between mile markers 1 and
29.

Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


i dont think it need one.
It might be cycling now.
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Quoting evilpenguinshan:
it's holding that TVS, and making a bit of a right turn now...hard to believe this isn't warned yet.






i dont think it need one.
It might be cycling now.
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Quoting nigel20:
The ITCZ looks pretty active in the eastern pacific

it should spit something out soon its only 10 days away till opening day
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The ITCZ looks pretty active in the eastern pacific

Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 8489
it's holding that TVS, and making a bit of a right turn now...hard to believe this isn't warned yet.




Quoting ScottLincoln:


2.75" hail report too. Kind snuck up on me; was not expected anything that far west.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Many here, myself included, disagree. While it is entirely possible we will reach El Niño criteria by the peak of hurricane season, conditions certainly will not be as unfavorable then as they were in 2006 and 2009. My best analogue is 2002, with 2004 being a secondary one. The Gulf Coast should be on high alert this season, while I believe the East Coast has a less-than-average chance of being struck by a hurricane or major hurricane.

Texas/Florida need to watch out.



I can def see some similarities between this year and 2004. Similar spring weather patterns. A high prob of warm neutral conditions during the heart of the season, and a more southern placed high pressure. Now any of this can certainly change at any point in the season, but there are quite a few similarities.
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Pilate knew exactly what the truth was...but, for reasons of political expediency, chose to ignore it.....Sound familiar?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I may have to revise my color tables...

STP:



MLCAPE:



What are you using to make those graphics, looks a little like GEMPAK.
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Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 8489
Quoting Patrap:
When Earth strikes back at us,and she will, we will truly only then realize en masse, that we are of it, and tied to it.

We are all made of Stars.

Every Element in your Body was forged in a Furnace of Fusion eons ago, and we are self aware, thus the Universe knowing that it is.

Fresca anyone?






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Your North Platte cell did get a Special Statement, however...

... Significant weather advisory for central Lincoln County until 645
PM CDT...

At 603 PM CDT... National Weather Service Doppler radar was tracking a
strong thunderstorm near Hansen Memorial Reserve State Wildlife
Management Area... or 11 miles northwest of Curtis... moving north at
25 mph.

Hail up to the size of pennies is expected with this storm.

This storm will be near...
Cottonwood Canyon State Wildlife Management Area around 640 PM CDT.
Maxwell around 645 PM CDT.

This storm may intensify... .and a Tornado Watch is in effect for this
area. Be certain to monitor local radio and TV stations... as well as
local cable TV outlets... .for additional information and possible
warnings from the National Weather Service.


Taylor


Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Splitting cell S of North Platte, NE.

I am betting on it for the 1st tornado warning of the day, unless one of the wyoming storms chooses to mess with me.
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Quoting evilpenguinshan:
This Wyoming cell is look pretty mean...








2.75" hail report too. Kind snuck up on me; was not expected anything that far west.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3327
Quoting WxGeekVA:


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This Wyoming cell is look pretty mean...






Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Splitting cell S of North Platte, NE.

I am betting on it for the 1st tornado warning of the day, unless one of the wyoming storms chooses to mess with me.
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Quoting Birthmark:

Seriously, frivolously, or any other way you choose to do it. At least one of us will learn something. ;^D


I have to confess, I already said what I wanted to say anyway.

I honestly don't know what more I'm supposed to say to you, or where to start at this point, because the errors both of you have are so fundamental that it seems impossible to establish any further discussion until that matter is addressed, but you both rejected my argument anyway.

It's not a difficult principle.

Truth can't contradict truth.

Most people would admit that on the surface, but then reconciling their own beliefs to that fact is another matter.

However, the two of you failed to even admit that on the surface.

It's not really possible to discuss anything if you can't even establish the definition of the truth.
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Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Splitting cell S of North Platte, NE.

I am betting on it for the 1st tornado warning of the day, unless one of the wyoming storms chooses to mess with me.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I think I just found a major problem with this afternoon...



With the bulk of the wind shear that far north, we may not get as many tornadoes as we would if it were farther south. This could turn out a bust...


The bulk of the activity should be in the IA, SD, NE, MN area, where the shear is moving into.
Helicities are quite high already.
We will see what happens
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Quoting stormhank:
hey everyone havent been on in awhile..just wanted to ask about this up coming hurricane season..from what ive read looks like a 2006...2009 type season..any one agree ? thanks for all input

Many here, myself included, disagree. While it is entirely possible we will reach El Niño criteria by the peak of hurricane season, conditions certainly will not be as unfavorable then as they were in 2006 and 2009. My best analogue is 2002, with 2004 being a secondary one. The Gulf Coast should be on high alert this season, while I believe the East Coast has a less-than-average chance of being struck by a hurricane or major hurricane.

Texas/Florida need to watch out.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32870
.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32870
As a Roman politician once said, "Truth, what is truth?"
It's much the same as arguing shades of green with a person who is color blind.
Truth or Faith as concepts, can be understood, but understanding is not acquisition. And without acquisition there is no object to be objective about.. imho
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Quoting RTSplayer:
Do you REALLY want me to make a blog dedicated to putting you two and your beliefs to shame? Seriously?

Seriously, frivolously, or any other way you choose to do it. At least one of us will learn something. ;^D
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hey everyone havent been on in awhile..just wanted to ask about this up coming hurricane season..from what ive read looks like a 2006...2009 type season..any one agree ? thanks for all input
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MCV:


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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
In fact, initiation in South Dakota has already began.

Expect a Tornado Watch shortly (wink).


Yeah, although that probably wont be the show... it's too far north and in the cooler/drier air. Probably just elevated. We need to LFCs to drop about another 1000m or so, then the show will probably start to take off...
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3327
I'll have another...
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URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 251
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
535 PM CDT SAT MAY 5 2012

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

EXTREME NORTHWEST IOWA
CENTRAL AND NORTHEAST NEBRASKA
EXTREME SOUTHEAST SOUTH DAKOTA

EFFECTIVE THIS SATURDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING FROM 535 PM UNTIL
1100 PM CDT.

TORNADOES...HAIL TO 3 INCHES IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND
GUSTS TO 70 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE
AREAS.

THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 35 STATUTE
MILES NORTH AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM 50 MILES WEST SOUTHWEST OF
BROKEN BOW NEBRASKA TO 35 MILES NORTH NORTHEAST OF SIOUX CITY
IOWA. FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE ASSOCIATED
WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU1).

REMEMBER...A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR
TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.

OTHER WATCH INFORMATION...CONTINUE...WW 248...WW 249...WW 250...

DISCUSSION...STRONG SURFACE HEATING/DEEP MIXING IN THE WARM SECTOR
HAS REDUCED CONVECTIVE INHIBITION ACROSS NEB...AND VISIBLE IMAGERY
IS BEGINNING TO SHOW DEEPENING CUMULUS ALONG THE SURFACE FRONT FROM
SE OF LBF TO SW OF YKN. THE SITUATION IS COMPLICATED BY LOWER
DEWPOINTS IN THE WARM SECTOR AND A QUICK TRANSITION TO STRONGER
SHEAR/COOLER TEMPERATURES ACROSS THE FRONT...LEAVING ONLY A NARROW
CORRIDOR WITH SURFACE-BASED SUPERCELL/TORNADO POTENTIAL.
STILL...THE ORIENTATION OF THE FRONT APPEARS TO BE ROUGHLY PARALLEL
TO EXPECTED STORM MOTION...SO ANY STORMS THAT FORM ALONG THE
IMMEDIATE SURFACE FRONT COULD REMAIN IN THE NARROW FAVORABLE
CORRIDOR LONG ENOUGH TO BE A TORNADO THREAT. IN ADDITION TO THE
TORNADO RISK...VERY LARGE HAIL WILL BE POSSIBLE WITH ANY SUSTAINED
STORMS THROUGH LATE EVENING.

AVIATION...TORNADOES AND A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL
SURFACE AND ALOFT TO 3 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE
WIND GUSTS TO 60 KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO
550. MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR 24025.


...THOMPSON
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8049
I'll have another.

Wow.

What a Horse and rider....!
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Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32870
never mind TA13 won, again.
I am 2 slow at looking at the watch outlines :)
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BULLETIN - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE FOR WT 251
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
535 PM CDT SAT MAY 5 2012

TORNADO WATCH 251 IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1100 PM CDT FOR THE
FOLLOWING LOCATIONS

IAC149-167-193-060400-
/O.NEW.KWNS.TO.A.0251.120505T2235Z-120506T0400Z/

IA
. IOWA COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

PLYMOUTH SIOUX WOODBURY


NEC003-011-027-041-043-047-051-063-071-077-089-107 -111-115-119-
139-163-173-175-179-183-060400-
/O.NEW.KWNS.TO.A.0251.120505T2235Z-120506T0400Z/

NE
. NEBRASKA COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

ANTELOPE BOONE CEDAR
CUSTER DAKOTA DAWSON
DIXON FRONTIER GARFIELD
GREELEY HOLT KNOX
LINCOLN LOUP MADISON
PIERCE SHERMAN THURSTON
VALLEY WAYNE WHEELER


SDC009-027-127-135-060400-
/O.NEW.KWNS.TO.A.0251.120505T2235Z-120506T0400Z/

SD
. SOUTH DAKOTA COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

BON HOMME CLAY UNION
YANKTON


ATTN...WFO...FSD...LBF...OAX...GID...
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32870
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this one?




Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
In fact, initiation in South Dakota has already began.

Expect a Tornado Watch shortly (wink).
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In fact, initiation in South Dakota has already began.

Expect a Tornado Watch shortly (wink).
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32870
Seems the "terrorism" label is thrown about rather freely. When they declared war on terrorism, I wondered if we might declare war on foolishness, too.
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When Earth strikes back at us,and she will, we will truly only then realize en masse, that we are of it, and tied to it.

We are all made of Stars.

Every Element in your Body was forged in a Furnace of Fusion eons ago, and we are self aware, thus the Universe knowing that it is.

Fresca anyone?




Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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