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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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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Some of the severe weather parameters are very high.
Helicities around 500 m2/s2 right now.
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Aw, come on...you make it too easy.

"This economics-related article is a stub."

The only cited source leads to "Geneva Centre for Security Policy
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2011)"

Quoting spathy:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The term economic terrorism is strictly defined to indicate an attempt at economic destabilization by a group. More precisely, in 2005 the Geneva Centre for Security Policy defined economic terrorism in the following terms:

Contrary to "economic warfare" which is undertaken by states against other states, "economic terrorism" would be undertaken by transnational or non-state actors. This could entail varied, coordinated and sophisticated or massive destabilizing actions in order to disrupt the economic and financial stability of a state, a group of states or a society (such as market oriented western societies) for ideological or religious motives. These actions, if undertaken, may be violent or not. They could have either immediate effects or carry psychological effects which in turn have economic consequences.[1]
Link
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I may have to revise my color tables...

STP:



MLCAPE:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31608
Quoting evilpenguinshan:
I'm getting antsy - it's really slow at work today =D

When's it gonna pop? It can't be long now...



In the next hour or so. The SPC says a Tornado Watch will be required by 00Z.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31608
I'm getting antsy - it's really slow at work today =D

When's it gonna pop? It can't be long now...


Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The cap has steadily been eroding this afternoon across South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa and is now almost completely gone. MLCAPE is through the roof and shear is on the increase (it's already very impressive in southern South Dakota). As soon as the cap is gone, supercells will rapidly develop, and many will produce tornadoes. I expect a few strong tornadoes this afternoon.
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Quoting RTSplayer:


No.

What I dealt with you and that other person was the absolute truth.

Lies are not equal to the truth.

The truth cannot contradict the truth.

This is fundamental to all knowledge and philosophy.

If you cannot accept that, then as I said, you are unqualified to participate in any discussion, and for that matter, on any topic.

You can go on deceiving yourself, along with the other person, if you like, but my hands are clean in this matter now.

I will be delighted to discuss this on your blog or another website altogether if you prefer. As many have rightly pointed out, this is not the correct venue for such a discussion.

However, it is the perfect place to tell everyone what a delightful day it has been in Murphy, NC. Low 80s with enough breeze to make it very comfortable outside.
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The cap has steadily been eroding this afternoon across South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa and is now almost completely gone. MLCAPE is through the roof and shear is on the increase (it's already very impressive in southern South Dakota). As soon as the cap is gone, supercells will rapidly develop, and many will produce tornadoes. I expect a few strong tornadoes this afternoon.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31608
Quoting spathy:
The question for climate hawks is: What happens if ...climate activists are able to block, slow, or at least raise the political and economic costs of coal exports? The happy answer would be that U.S. coal companies wither and a good bit of U.S. coal stays in the ground.
That would, indeed, be a "happy answer". The more that coal stays underground, the less CO2 and soot and sulfur and other nastiness there'll be set loose in the environment. That, in turn, means less climate disruption and better health for all involved. And who could argue with that?
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13474
Hmmm...The only problem there is that terrorism, by definition, involves killing people. That doesn't really jive with the message or the tactics of most eco-activists. Economic sabotage, perhaps.

Although I know of a certain country that invaded Iraq to depose a dictator and get oil out of the ground. Killed tens (hundreds?) of thousands in the process. THAT is economic terrorism.


Quoting spathy:
The question for climate hawks is: What happens if exports can%u2019t rise fast enough? More to the point, what happens if climate activists are able to block, slow, or at least raise the political and economic costs of coal exports? The happy answer would be that U.S. coal companies wither and a good bit of U.S. coal stays in the ground.

Wow!

WU supporting Economic terrorism.
That is a new low.


Link
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Quoting cyclonekid:
Looking like neutral to weak El Niño for the peak of the hurricane season.
It will be interesting.
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Quoting xcool:



sea surf temp anomaly .



Looking like neutral to weak El Niño for the peak of the hurricane season.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Western US warm up on the way... Southeast cooldown also looks likely.



Maybe something to do with this late season front. Here anyways. The Euro looked like it stalls it a bit just off the coast. I was skeptical but being wrong is good sometimes. The NWS is starting to believe. :)

LONG TERM...MODELS ARE GAINING AGREEMENT ON THE RESOLUTION OF THE
SPLIT FLOW AND CONSEQUENT CLOSED LOW OVER THE GREAT BASIN EARLY
NEXT WEEK. STAYED WITH THE EURO AS THE GFS HAS BEEN PLAYING CATCHUP.
THE EURO STILL MOVES THE FRONT THROUGH LATE WEDNESDAY WHILE THE
GFS HAS IT STALLING TO THE NORTH. GAINING CONFIDENCE IN CHANCE
POPS AS A RESULT OVER THE LATTER PORTION OF THE WORK WEEK.
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726. RTSplayer:
"If I say nothing, I'm morally liable.

"If I complain or point out their error, then somebody complains and gets me banned, because I dared to tell the truth."

Were you compelled to continue this discussion and get "the truth" - your truth - out, you can always make your own wublog about it.
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Quoting RTSplayer:
If I complain or point out their error, then somebody complains and gets me banned, because I dared to tell the truth.

Well, a truth, anyway...and an internal truth at that.
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Quoting RTSplayer:


Perhaps I was a tad too blunt.
+10.
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the radar indicated hail size on that cell just took a leap:

D4 69 dBZ 39,000 ft. 67 kg/m² 100% chance 100% chance 3.25 in. 29 knots WNW (294)



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

NORTH-CENTRAL AND NORTHEAST IOWA
SOUTH-CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA

EFFECTIVE THIS SATURDAY MORNING AND EVENING FROM 1140 AM UNTIL
700 PM CDT.

HAIL TO 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 70
MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.

THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 55
STATUTE MILES NORTH AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM 40 MILES SOUTH
SOUTHWEST OF REDWOOD FALLS MINNESOTA TO 60 MILES EAST OF
ROCHESTER MINNESOTA. FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE
THE ASSOCIATED WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU8).

REMEMBER...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE
FAVORABLE FOR 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. SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAN AND OCCASIONALLY
DO PRODUCE TORNADOES.

OTHER WATCH INFORMATION...CONTINUE...WW 247...

DISCUSSION...ELEVATED MCS WITH EMBEDDED SUPERCELLS IS EXPECTED TO
CONTINUE EWD ACROSS THE WATCH AREA THIS AFTERNOON. THE GRADUAL
BROADENING AND INTENSIFICATION OF A LLJ WILL ENHANCE THE INFLOW OF A
MODERATE-STRONGLY UNSTABLE AIR MASS INTO ONGOING STORMS. GIVEN THE
RELATIVELY STRONG CLOUD-BEARING SHEAR...EXPECT SUPERCELL AND BOWING
STRUCTURES TO PERSIST WITH AN ASSOCIATED THREAT FOR LARGE HAIL AND
DAMAGING WINDS.
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334 Ossqss: Lets toss in Hurricane activity to boot...

What kinda dots do you have?

Dots? Extrapolating Dr.Maue's decreasing AllHurricanes trendline versus his increasing MajorHurricanes trendline is far more amusing. So, just from eyeballing...
...sometime ~2140AD, all hurricanes will become major hurricanes (~35)...
...and afterward, there will be increasingly more of those increasingly-major hurricanes.

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anything to change the topic!!

the southern end of the MCS in MN/IA/WI has a nasty looking cell on it. some decent sized hail, but nothing too crazy...

I'm just sitting around looking at the maps and the temp differential is huuuge in the NE/SD/IA borders...it's gotta pop soon!






Quoting MAweatherboy1:
When should we start seeing some storms? The SPC said in a mesoscale discussion earlier that a tornado watch was 95% likely by now and they didn't issue one...
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MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0716
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0352 PM CDT SAT MAY 05 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...CNTRL-NERN NEB / SERN SD / NWRN IA

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...TORNADO WATCH LIKELY

VALID 052052Z - 052215Z

PROBABILITY OF WATCH ISSUANCE...95 PERCENT

SUMMARY...SUPERCELLS CAPABLE OF TORNADOES...VERY LARGE HAIL...AND
DAMAGING WIND GUSTS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP PRIOR TO 00Z...REQUIRING
A TORNADO WATCH.

DISCUSSION...20Z SURFACE ANALYSIS SHOWED A SURFACE LOW W OF MCK WITH
AN ASSOCIATED STATIONARY BOUNDARY EXTENDING NEWD TO N OF OFK AND SUX
BEFORE CURVING SEWD THROUGH CNTRL IA. AIR MASS ALONG AND S OF THIS
BOUNDARY HAS WARMED INTO THE UPPER 80S-LOWER 90S AND WHEN COUPLED
WITH DEWPOINTS IN THE MID-UPPER 60S...IS RESULTING IN MLCAPE VALUES
OF 3000-4000 J/KG AND A WEAKENING CAP. THOUGH LOW-LEVEL WAA
PERSISTS...MIDLEVEL HEIGHTS APPEAR TO BE STILL SLIGHTLY RISING AHEAD
OF NRN ROCKIES UPPER TROUGH. AS SUCH...IT NOW APPEARS THAT STORM
INITIATION MAY BE DELAYED TO CLOSER TO 00Z WHEN CONVERGENCE
INCREASES IN THE EXIT REGION OF A STRENGTHENING LLJ.

PRONOUNCED VEERING OF WINDS WITH HEIGHT AND STRENGTHENING LOW AND
DEEP-LAYER SHEAR WILL SUPPORT THE RAPID EVOLUTION OF STORMS INTO
SUPERCELLS WITH AN ASSOCIATED THREAT FOR TORNADOES...VERY LARGE HAIL
AND DAMAGING WINDS.

A TORNADO WATCH WILL BE REQUIRED PRIOR TO 00Z.

..MEAD.. 05/05/2012

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Quoting Grothar:


You obviously weren't here earlier or you would retract that. :) How you doing, Nigel?

I'm good on this wet afternoon. What was going on earlier?
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 7888
Western US warm up on the way... Southeast cooldown also looks likely.

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Quoting CaneFreeCR:
"When using Dr. Masters' blog, please refrain from posting material not relevant to the discussion of tropical weather, or the topic of the blog entry itself. Please do not engage in personal attacks or bickering. "

How does this statement fit with many of the recent comments? Seems like discussion of religion is WAY OT


Have you ever wondered why people feel compelled to talk about things that are "off topic," especially religion and such?

Like I said a few posts back, its no big deal for somebody to drop by and post misinformation and then leave. If they are banned, they don't care anyway.

Then someone has to clean up the mess, and continually ignoring it or pretending it didn't happen is equally wrong.

Then someone will say, "Go talk on a religious blog, etc," couple problems with that:

1) the disbelievers don't follow the rules, and feel no reservations about dropping snide comments in at any time anyway, including many regulars on here who continually get away with it.

2) If you want your governor or president to know your complaints, what do you do? You go to their office and picket in their street, or call them on the phone, or send a letter. You don't hang out by yourself with a few other people who already agree with you and just talk in circles all day long. It's neither healthy nor productive.

3) Confused people, like the poor souls I addressed myself to earlier, don't tend to actually come looking for the truth, because they've convinced themselves the truth and a lie are one and the same.

If the only way they are to be corrected is if they bother to take themselves to some other forum discussing religion, logic, and philosophy, well then, they'll probably never be corrected then, will they?


If I say nothing, I'm morally liable.

If I complain or point out their error, then somebody complains and gets me banned, because I dared to tell the truth.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
When should we start seeing some storms? The SPC said in a mesoscale discussion earlier that a tornado watch was 95% likely by now and they didn't issue one...
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We tied a record high here today at 92 °F.
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Quoting nigel20:
Today is fairly quiet on the blog


You obviously weren't here earlier or you would retract that. :) How you doing, Nigel?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25575
Today is fairly quiet on the blog
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 7888
Ouch! Hot one in the hill country! Good thing we got the gulf to keep us cool here. ok, now my sarcasm flag is flyin' :)



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references were to the limited education most younger posts have.
Quoting Birthmark:

I know nothing of their beverage preferences, however, I can say that based on their comments that they haven't read the science very thoroughly, if at all.

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719. xcool



sea surf temp anomaly .



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Quoting plywoodstatenative:
Okay out of hibernation for now, whats the latest on rain for South Florida, and why this odd weather pattern as of late?
La-Nina is officially gone.. That is some good news for Florida.
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Quoting plywoodstatenative:
Okay out of hibernation for now, whats the latest on rain for South Florida, and why this odd weather pattern as of late?


NWS Miami thinks rainy May then tapers off to normal.


Rainy Season Outlook: Early Start Followed by Near Normal Conditions
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Grothar.. you may truly be the glue that binds this disparate coachload.
thanks for that :)
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The Saudis are the only Country coming to London without Women athlete's.

Oil can do dat ya know?
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Quoting hydrus:
The oppressive treatment of woman goes back thousands of years, and is nothing short of grotesque considering it really was not that long ago until something was done about it. Things are getting better, but there are still issues the need to be resolved.
Yeah, like Islam and stuff ?!
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Me tink's the Heartland has moved in here.


The ADMIN "TSA" Light is Blinking Big time.
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Quoting CaneFreeCR:
"When using Dr. Masters' blog, please refrain from posting material not relevant to the discussion of tropical weather, or the topic of the blog entry itself. Please do not engage in personal attacks or bickering. "

How does this statement fit with many of the recent comments? Seems like discussion of religion is WAY OT
I think at times discussion of religion can be tolerated here, but only if people do so with tolerance, and not with lengthy, ad hominem-filled rants wherein they accuse others of being blind or stupid for not agreeing with their own entrenched points of view. The thing is, there are many religions, just as there are many roughly equivalent, man-made deities; many of the world's current problems have arisen because those who side with one or more of those deities dislike the fact that other people have chosen to side with still other deities.

Were that such a paradigm didn't exist.

But, alas, it does, and it shows no signs of changing. So the world--and, by extension, this forum--would be a far better place if we'd all do the next best thing: realize that everyone is free to worship and/or follow their own deity or deities--or even no deity at all.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13474
Quoting hydrus:
I believe you went to far with the you need an education statement. You would judge someone and there education on that one post.?


Perhaps I was a tad too blunt.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
May 3, 2011

May 3, 2012
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 7888
Quoting akailm:
perhaps they didn't drink the koolaid.


I know nothing of their beverage preferences, however, I can say that based on their comments that they haven't read the science very thoroughly, if at all.
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Quoting OldLeatherneck:


Why is it formal? The bride comes from serious Texas Oil money and the normal temps would be in the low 80s with moderate to low humidity.

Last time I checked the temp was up to 95 with a heat index of 104. Sure hoping that nobody drinks too much, too fast, and suffers a heatstroke.


Just in case, you may want to pack a change of clothes
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Okay out of hibernation for now, whats the latest on rain for South Florida, and why this odd weather pattern as of late?
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
that don't work Wx they just come back as somebody else
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perhaps they didn't drink the koolaid.
Quoting BobWallace:


Most of the major scientists who are climate change deniers are older, retired folks. Here's the list that appear on the Wiki page of scientists questioning the accuracy of IPCC climate projections.

Freeman Dyson, Professor Emeritus of the School of Natural Sciences. (Born 1923.)

Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Born 1940.)

Nils-Axel Mörner, retired head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics department at Stockholm University. (Born 1938.)

Garth Paltridge, Visiting Fellow ANU and retired Chief Research Scientist. (Born 1940.)

Philip Stott, professor emeritus of biogeography at the University of London.

Hendrik Tennekes, retired Director of Research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. (Born 1936)

A couple of years back I listened to a retired professor of geology at our local university being interviewed about his climate change skepticism. It was clear that he didn't fully understand how climate models worked.

There's a tendency for people to stop learning new stuff as life goes on. It's something that I noticed many times going through graduate school. Professors were teaching what was known when they were younger and often were not keeping up with developments in the field, especially if it was outside their area of specialization.

The really good, innovative stuff came from newly minted profs who were coming with a wider knowledge of the current state in many different areas. Going through their graduate program had forced them to learn things other than what was happening in the labs in which they worked.



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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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