Drought relief?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:04 PM GMT on January 12, 2006

Computer forecast models are pointing to a change in the jet stream pattern over the coming week that could provide some drought relief to the southern half of the U.S., including eastern Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The jet stream so far in January has been blowing in a somewhat "zonal" fashion--straight across the U.S., from about Oregon to New England. The jet has had only modest dips to the south (troughs), associated with rain storms that have tracked rapidly across the northern tier of states. Beginning Saturday, however, the jet stream is expected to take on a more bowed pattern, bringing a sharp trough of low pressure all the way down to Mexico. This trough will bring cold air and moisture with it, giving southern California needed rains, and the first snows of winter to Flagstaff, AZ. Amazingly, Flagstaff had over 83 inches of snow fall by this time last year, but so far this winter has had none!

By Monday, as the trough moves across the country, the drought-ravaged areas of eastern Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas have a chance of up to .5 inches of rain. This would be the first significant rains in nearly 100 days in some areas. Another major trough is expected to follow about a week later, and indications are that this trough will also swing far enough south to bring rain and snow to portions of the southern U.S. in need of moisture. However, since there is no cold Arctic air in Canada for these troughs to tap into, only short periods of winter-like conditions are expected in the U.S. over the next ten days. The country remains on track to record our warmest-ever January.

Figure 1. Number of days since the last .25 inch rain for each county in Oklahoma.

Jeff Masters

Smoke 2 Counties away (kentrosaurus)
This cloud of smoke is from a wildfire in Irion county, as seen from Tom Green county, near San Angelo.
Smoke 2 Counties away
danger: low water (hogwild)
notice how far this marker is away from the water's current level
danger: low water

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249. arcturus
1:01 AM GMT on January 15, 2006
Thats exactly what the car industry did. Cars stopped getting better fuel economy ten years ago. But even the Japanese were guilty of pounding out more horsepower to sacrifice fuel economy.

Geo made a car back in the mid 90's that got 44-49mpg. That's the same fuel economy as the new hybrid half electric car thats out now. Somethings wrong there.

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248. fortaz107
1:00 AM GMT on January 15, 2006
It looks like the southern hemisphere is starting off on an active season too.
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247. snowboy
12:41 AM GMT on January 15, 2006
The American administration is a bit like the American car industry.

When fuel efficiency standards were set years ago, the American car industry hired teams of lawyers and lobbyists to fight the standards being set and to look for loopholes once they were set. The outcome is the the American car industry all but abandoned building efficient cars that people would want to drive and focussed everything on monster gas guzzling minivans, SUVs, vans and trucks. The Japanese and other competitors simply buckled down, met and exceeded the fuel efficiency standards by building better cars. Now that the price of oil is sky high, the American industry (which had the same chance as its foreign competitors to develop better, more efficient cars years ago) is going down the tubes.

The current administration seems little different, ignoring (and in fact arguing against) the issue of taking necessary action to deal with increasing fossil fuel scarcity and costs. This is again allowing foreign competitors to develop the technologies of the future, while America sleeps.
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246. Trouper415
12:45 AM GMT on January 15, 2006
Ftwalton, very quickly as I gotta get outa here. The gulf stream brings warm waters up from the carribean warming the east coast and europe.
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245. snowboy
11:57 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Ha - I think we may be getting somewhere in this protracted discussion!
If can try to sum up what I've taken from peoples' contributions on the various points on the global warming issue:

1) global warming is perceived to be taking place NOW;

2) it is not possible to prove that human activity is causing or contributing to the warming (though climate models suggst it is contributing);

3) it is not possible to prove that human activity is NOT causing or contributing to the warming;

4) there are a number of measures that can be undertaken, such as:
- improving fuel efficiency of our cars and machines;
- better insulate our homes;
- generally reduce air emissions to the extent reasonably possible;
- seek to develop alternative energy sources (solar, wind, biodiesel, etc.);
- planting more trees;

5) these measures are worth doing regardless of where you stand on the issue (and they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions)

6) if human activity IS contributing to global warming, then by the time we have proof (ie. global temperatures higher than ever in the planet's history) we will have wrecked ecosystems, caused untold human hardship, and made significant parts of the planet unliveable;

7) if human activity is NOT contributing to global warming, then all of the fuss is for nothing (but even then the measures in 4) above are worth doing)
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244. FtWaltonBch2Tucson
12:14 AM GMT on January 15, 2006
Skyepony, I don't have an exact temperature, but I know that England used to be able to grow really good grapes- Better in fact than France could at the time- and they have not been able to do so since the start of the little ice age. From what I hear, only 1000 years ago the average temperatures were higher than they are now.

As for the Gulf Stream, just as a guess, could the slowing be allowing it to heat more therefore allowing it to bring more heat to Europe? I freely admit, I haven't had time to research that question yet.
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243. Inyo
12:06 AM GMT on January 15, 2006
haha waiving = waving
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242. Inyo
12:04 AM GMT on January 15, 2006
yeah like i said, i really wonder why so many 'flag waiving' conservatives thinki it would hopelessly cripple our country just to reduce our oil consumption. it sounds like the words of a drug addict when you are trying to take away his crack.
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241. Trouper415
11:48 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
F5, the things you say are absolutely rediculous. saying that there wouldnt be a single hybrid car being built for the US is CA wasnt requiring them to be built is absolute garbage. Ever thought that people in california want to take the initiative in conserving natural resourses and taking an initiative in cleaning up the enviroment? And you go on to quote someone saying that hybrid cars are not profitable. Ever heard of making short term sacrifices for long term gains? As oil prices rise durastically in the comming years, you will see the person you quoted saying what a brilliant idea it was to manufacture these cars as half the people in the U.S. will own them. And saying that joining the Kyoto protocol would ruin the economy is absolute garbage. Cutting down emmisions would just make people adapt to the new changes. And it would create jobs as we would begin the shift to cleaner energy and alternitive types of energy. Look at the 'war' we are fighting right now. Hundreds of billions of dollars being thrown down the drain for absolutely nothing. That is hurting the economy, not joining an agreement with the rest of the world which will end up helping us in the long run.
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240. Inyo
11:34 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
when government funds it, you end up with such an unbelievable amount of waste and reseach into ridiculous items, it's hard to believe. In the end, most inventions/scientific discoveries have been made by individual citizens and/or private companies, not by the government.

as someone working in a science field, i totally disagree.. at least in the area i work under. under some fields, such as computing, etc, it's probably true. I guess for whatever reason, i just have no faith in corporations or capitalism to do what needs to be done. do i have a better solution? Not really.. but most of what i have seen is corporations detrimentally affecting most people to the beneifit fo a few shareholders.

does government ever fund 'ridiculous', useless research? Sure, on occasion. i still think it is worth it for the beneifits we get out of it in general.

I guess though, since i WORK for the governmnent as opposed to the private sector, and have a science-related job, i am biased.

Bush's philosophy has been to prod industry to develop their own solutions, which is how it should be, when the cost/benefit is completely unknown.

well my thoughts are that bush's philosophy is to accept corporate bribes and let them do whatever they please, but this is getting a bit off topic. simply stated, i strongly dislike bush and am not likely to trust a thing he does, which is outside the realm of this discussion. so i will leave it at that and allow our opinions on that to differ.

There is so much that we don't know, about sources and interactions and how the earth's climate acts/reacts.

yeah, we definitely need a LOT more research. hmm, now where will we find a corporation which will research climate change so we can prepare for changes ahead of time . any volunteers?

To make dubious claims that human activity is the primary cause for global warming is complete bunk.

actually, i agree there. i just believe that to make dubious claims that human activity is NOT the primary cause for global warming is ALSO total bunk. so yes, research is very important. i think most of us can agree that for one reason or another, the climate is nearing or entering a time of potentially rapid change, and we should be ready for it.
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239. Inyo
11:31 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
its a hard question for sure. first of all we should totally do away with the term 'environment' in this issue, i hate that term, it implies some kind of passive surroundings we are trying to preserve. the bottom line is this is for our OWN long term beneifit.
I do think the government needs to play a role in the conversion from a fossil fuel economy. No, i don't know the best way to do this, and i havent heard any great ideas either, but 'do nothing' is also a poor choice in my opinion.
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238. F5
11:14 PM GMT on January 14, 2006

First off, Kyoto was rejected by the US Senate, not by President Bush, and that occured when Clinton was President, not Bush. Kyoto was unworkable, and could have easily wrecked our economy without providing any proven benefits. Bush's philosophy has been to prod industry to develop their own solutions, which is how it should be, when the cost/benefit is completely unknown.

As for who funds research, I don't want to digress too much but when government funds it, you end up with such an unbelievable amount of waste and reseach into ridiculous items, it's hard to believe. In the end, most inventions/scientific discoveries have been made by individual citizens and/or private companies, not by the government. Mostly, it's because the profit motive drives people to allocate time/money/effort into research in order to derive a profit from it. There has never been a better motivator in the history of humans. And it's not as if government research is so much better than private research. The only real reason it exists is for the most part, the areas in which they study have little or no financial benefit to them, simply because the government is doing the work that private enterprises SHOULD be doing and expending their own money on. Instead, they are letting the US Taxpayers fund the research and then gaining the benefits without the requisite costs. This is economics at its worst. If it is truly something that is a matter of national security, defense, etc., that's one thing. The Constitution requires the Federal government to protect us and therefore it's worthwhile. Otherwise, it should be done in the private sector.

Sorry, got my hybrids and electrics confused.

If by affecting the atmosphere you mean polluting it, then yes, I agree with that. That should be the primary reason why we research alternative energy sources and cleaner emissions, as I've stated several times.

The point about ENSO provides ammunition to what I and others have been saying. There is so much that we don't know, about sources and interactions and how the earth's climate acts/reacts. To make dubious claims that human activity is the primary cause for global warming is complete bunk. We certainly are contributing CO2, methand, and other greenhouse gases, but we have no idea how much of an impact that is making, and there's simply no way whatsoever to know. Anything we do could be the wrong thing. So let's focus on the right reasons to reduce emissions...pollution and reduced dependence on foreign energy sources.
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237. F5
11:01 PM GMT on January 14, 2006

If CA wasn't requiring a certain pct of hybrid cars, you wouldn't see a single one being built for the US.


As is aptly stated in the article, "I hate selling cars at a loss," Nissan Motor and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn told reporters, saying hybrids were not a profitable proposition. "

Now, the question becomes, can the government force companies to produce products they don't want and lose money on them because of the environment? The answer SHOULD be no. No company should be forced to build and sell products at a loss to conform to government regulations. If they want to have higher CAFE requirements or emission controls, the extra price of which can be passed on to consumers, that's one thing.

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236. turtlehurricane
10:04 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
i ahv updated my blog
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235. Inyo
8:50 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Moore loves Bush, that guy is making him rich!
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234. TPaul
3:06 PM EST on January 14, 2006
Obviously the biggest thing that hurts Bush in regards to his energy policy is the secrete meeting that were held by Cheney with a number of leaders from the energy sector. Now these meetings may have been totally legal and their reason for keeping them secret might be reasonable but it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. With that said, its not the President or Congress that drives energy policy, it we the consumers. Just look at hybrid cars and how they are hitting the market.
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233. Skyepony (Mod)
8:07 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Long but informative Inyo~

Several have mentioned that the planet has been warmer, therefore we shouldn't worry about it. ~though the majority of studies are showing this is the warmest in at least 2000 years. I set out to find info on the warmest period for earth, since noone really mentioned how hot things get before they get cold again, openminded, figured i'd look it up. Lastnight, I read an article about around 3 bil years ago being one of the hottest points in history. Basically decribed below by Inyo, adding that the CO2 was higher than now, though Methane wasn't measured in samples, some suspect it was there. Basically a really bad case of greenhouse effect occured ~ heating the planet to around 157F(no mention of some hot spot location or average for the planet). Appears all the vegatation died globally though. That's why the CO2 mixed with the sediment from the mountains & land were carried to the sea which was considerably higher. There was no polar ice caps. & there was a mention of land masses moving around, colliding, erupions, more landslides, earth to the sea, til things settled & enough CO2 was removed from the air. Then the world iced back over, well not around the tropics. But before it did it sounded like no enviroment for humans. Does anyone have any other info on how hot it has gotton in the past? Also this thing of the gulf stream slowing is gonna cool europe right down before it gets too hot thing, anyone noticed even though the gulf stream has been slowing for 20 years now europe is getting hotter?
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232. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
8:33 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
hey tornadoty how are you i may be seeing some sever weather today to in the valley and foothills

if any one update on sever weather this post it in my blog and it can any this like hail low snow high winds and so on

hey ever one whats up can not stay for long
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231. tornadoty
8:28 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
If I could butt in for just a second, the latest computer models show a chance of a dangerous tornado outbreak in the south Tuesday.
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230. ForecasterColby
8:25 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Allow me to make one, highly amusing, point here:

Michael Moore owns Haliburton stock.
229. Inyo
7:54 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
wow, that was long... sorry
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228. Inyo
7:34 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
i'm sorry but i just dont think that someone whos family has a huge interest in one industry should be the one deciding whether or not that industry, which definitely causes harmful effects to people, is the one which dominates the world. You can't honestly tell me that you don't believe the President has a huge influence on how research efforts go. Also, you can't deny that he just blew off Kyoto totally. Maybe it WASNT the best for our country, but he didn't try to find a compromise, he just blew it off completely.

I don't agree that private companies should provide the money for all research, at all. That attitude gets you a country like Japan, which invents a lot of neat stuff, yes, but doesn't stand out on the forefront of science for 100 years. Let's face it, most technology we use today was not originally profitable, and was developed either by government-funded science, or by the government-funded military.

By your logic, we should disband the NWS and let 'accu'-weather take over. I know this is extreme, but seriously.

One example... i work for the Forest Service... our particular forest doesnt have much logging, so there isnt industry involvement. However, one of my duties is associated with the vegetation that covers the hills. You can't sell it, it doesnt make anyone money at all. We are doing research to understand it. Why do i do it? beacuse it interests me. is that selfish? perhaps. HOWEVER... if the vegetation dies off, or is replaced by shallow-rooted weeds, then something does happen. The hills collapse in on the city in an increased rate, and much more fires occur. Therefore, someone needs to figure out how to manage the hills so they don't fall on the city. But no oil company is going to pay for that... the government has to, beacuse it is their duty, in our opinion, to help us. A lot of this 'environmental' research, like this, doesnt result in immediate profit. However, look at it this way.. if people in the past understood the importance of keeping wetland ecosystems intact, then New Orleans might not be completely destroyed today, and over 1000 lives lost. I think even hurricanechaser will agree with me on that point... But short-sighted people tore up the wetlands for development, and among other things, oil production. Oil doesnt do us much good when our cities are under water...

As someone who works in the 'environmental/biology' field every day, i can guarantee you that naive environmentalists cause me more strife than you do... another reason we need more research. Well-meaning people planted a bunch of inappropriate pines in the hills above LA, and now they are all dying and catching on fire.

I think increased CO2 emissions are just one among many reasons to reduce oil use. I DO personally believe that increased CO2 in the atmosphere increases temperature, and that we have added to the increased CO2 significantly. Most climatologists, i believe, agree on that point (and no, it doesnt make it true at all, i know).

Hybrids don't change the fuel consumption to power plants.. only purely electric cars do that. hybrids don't actually suck power from the grid from what i have seen, they merely use energy from braking to power the car at certain times. Good technology, useful in fuel conservation, but not an alternate fuel, just an efficiency issue. Although ethanol is bunk, i don't think Biodiesel is. It isn't going to power the whole country, but i think it can be a big part of it, while supporting the Midwest's economy. but that is yet to be seen.

Also, you state that we refuse to stop altering the atmosphere of the climate significantly.

i think what i said, or at least what i meant to say, is that we are altering the ATMOSPHERE significantly. and no one who's been to LA will deny that. how that effects the climate... well, we all know how we all stand on that.

Quick question...If we are in a global warming phase (and I don't think anyone would disagree with that), why are we entering into a La Nina phase in the Pacific? If the atmosphere is warming, shouldn't that lead to increased SST's all over? Or is this simply another anomoly that we don't understand and can't model. From a cursory standpoint, you would think that the Pacific would also be warming, which would of course, lead to El Nino conditions, which would of course lower the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic basin

Global warming just means more energy from the sun will stay in the atmosphere.. it doesnt inherently mean all water temperatures will warm. A lot of people (i dont have sources offhand but from what ive read...) believe that net warming on the earth will just increase the intensity of all cycles. Since the ENSO cycle is ultimately driven by heat, more heat may just make the 'pendulum' swing more widely... meaning that we will have more intense La Nina as well as El Nino conditions. There isn't a uniform warming throughout the Earth, as currents and jet streams move around, different areas will be affected differently.

ENSO (el nino southern oscillation) is still poorly understood. I have heard some people speculate that until the last century, it was a very slow cycle, taking maybe 50 years for an El Nino to occur. There really isn't any way to say for sure, though.
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227. F5
7:25 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Quick question...If we are in a global warming phase (and I don't think anyone would disagree with that), why are we entering into a La Nina phase in the Pacific? If the atmosphere is warming, shouldn't that lead to increased SST's all over? Or is this simply another anomoly that we don't understand and can't model. From a cursory standpoint, you would think that the Pacific would also be warming, which would of course, lead to El Nino conditions, which would of course lower the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic basin.
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226. F5
7:22 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
observer12, I guess it depends on where you are at. They have lowered the rain chance on Monday to 20% and eliminated the chance on Tuesday, at least for the D/FW area. Sounds like once again, the dry-line will push through and clear out the moisture before the cold-front can arrive, so there will be nothing left to work with. That seems to be the pattern we are stuck in.
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225. F5
7:07 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Oh c'mon Inyo...You can't possibly believe the because Bush once partially owned some oil companies that he refuses to fund alternate technologies. The truth is that the president doesn't fund any research. Congress allocates funds. All the president can do is refuse to release the money and that has not happened. In addition, the president prefers, and I completely agree, that private industry should be the ones funding the investment, not the federal government.

Also, you state that we refuse to stop altering the atmosphere of the climate significantly...Again, what proof is there that we are significantly alternating the climate? Absolutely none. It may be happening, but there is no proof that human activity is the cause. Therefore, to demand that we develop alternate technologies to stop doing something we have no idea if it will have any effect is not a good use of our resources. And as I said in an earlier post, if we want to develop alternatives, there are plenty of other reasons for doing so that are much more significant than an unproven hypothesis that human activity is primarily responsible for global warming.

As with anything, until the benefits outweigh the costs, you are unlikely to see anything more than cursory investment in research. I read today that Honda is still betting on fuel-cell technology, and frankly, so am I. I'm not into the bio-diesel thing and hybrids just change the source of part of the pollution issue from cars to power plants.
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224. observer12
6:51 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Unfortunately it looks as though much of OK will keep those high numbers on Dr. Masters's map. However, for us in Texas, we may finally see some rain, even on consecutive days!
223. Inyo
6:18 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Theboldman, i live in Pasadena and work in the San Gabriel Mountains. Incidentally, most people believe the average snow level up there has risen significantly in the last 50 years. i know it's kind of irrelevant since most people agree the earth is warming.. it's just bad for snowboarding, and for the pines.

FtWalton, i too have heard that the climate changed significantly when North and South America joined. It makes sense that it would, as this would greatly effect the thermohaline (current) circulation. Btw, I'm not saying that the carbon getting trapped is the main reason for the general cooling, i just think it may be a factor. Another factor is the positioning of Antarctaca directly over the South Pole (it used to be in temperate areas) which allows for the buildup of snow, which cools temperatures. So there are a lot of factors involved, indeed.

I'm guilty of burning fossil fuels like anyone else here, so i dont want to be a hypocrite and am not saying that everyone who does so is evil or anything. However, it really bothers me that we as a country refuse to stop altering the atmosphere of the climate significantly just beacuse it might cost us some money. No one is suggesting that the flow of Oil to the US be halted, that would result in a big, unpleasant war anyway. All people are suggesting (at least the reasonable ones) is that we should be putting more effort into developing alternatives than we currently are.

Let's see... an oil president with oil money doesn't want to increase funding in technology that would make oil less necessary, and thus make his stocks decrease in value. If you are looking for a 'conspiracy', it shouldnt be too hard to find there... even if i were a Republican i would have to question that.
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222. Moose15
6:13 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Does anyone see an end to this winter of NO WINTER? We have had little or no snowfall in S/E Michigan since early December and temperatures in the high 30's to low 50's. This has also been the case in the northern part of the state. I am not seeing any end to this and just wonder if anyone has any info that might indicate when or if we'll have a winter. My ski eguipment is gathering dust. Thanks!
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221. HurricaneMyles
5:53 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Those are some interesting maps there Colby. However, I don't know what's so scary about them. The west and central Caribbean are slightly warmer this year then last with a bit of extension north. Last year it was the opposite. The mid-Atlantic and eastern Caribbean were very warm and extended farther north with the rest of the Caribbean and gulf of Mexico a little cooler.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
220. phillyfan909
12:41 PM EST on January 14, 2006
Not to change the subject, but has anyone looked at Dr. Master's map of Oklahoma lately? It's updating itself. The areas that showed 99 days without rain yesterday are showing 100 days today. Amazing that it can do that. Now we just need a big rianstorm to move through there and watch those numbers tumble!
219. phillyfan909
12:19 PM EST on January 14, 2006
F5 and others, there may be some other ways out of the chicken/egg situation you describe.

If people lived closer to work (or public transportation) they wouldn't be so dependent on cars, thus less dependent on foreign oil etc. And we don't have to wait for engineers to figure out how to build more energy-efficient devices either. This solution does not depend on some vague future state of technology, we can start doing this NOW.

I realize that in much of the country the living patterns don't support this, but just start building communities (that support this energy-efficient living style) in the fastest-growing parts of the country and there will be a positive impact.
218. FtWaltonBch2Tucson
5:23 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Cobly, I'm having trouble making out the land to the west of her. What set of islands is that?
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217. ForecasterColby
5:18 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Scary comparison. This is last year's SST map for Jan 13...

...and this is yesterdays (Jan 13):

216. phillyfan909
12:14 PM EST on January 14, 2006
When I saw that pic loading of Urmil, I did a double take, I thought there was yet another Atlantic storm out there and I missed it somehow lol.
215. ForecasterColby
5:08 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Still waiting to hear how your tunnels fight global warming.

Tropical Cyclone Urmil is really kickin the South Pacific, Dvorak estimates say a 'hurricane'

214. FtWaltonBch2Tucson
4:57 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
oops... that should have read "at a point in the somewhat recent past...."

Sorry.... Been a long night at work and there won't be a chance to sleep for a while....
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213. FtWaltonBch2Tucson
4:35 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
I hate jumping in and leaving again, but I'm about to get my boyfriend out the door to Manila and things have been hectic, but I do wish to add a point I haven't seen referenced.

Inyo, you mention that at a point in the recent past the climate cooled. While you attribute this to CO2 being trapped in the rocks (which I won't say is not /part/ of the cause), one of the things I was taught in school was the joining of the North and South American Continents at Panama caused a severe shift in the global climate and it has been since that point that we have had repeated instances of ice-ages and inter-glacial warming.

Considering the Gulf Stream would not have existed in its current form until the continents joined, this makes a lot of sense to me; but, as I am several years out of school, I will grant there is a chance that this theory may have been changed.

Just my two cents.
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212. F5
4:46 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Oh, how are you going to transfer the energy produced by the tunnels to the power grid? Aren't they out in the middle of the ocean somewhere?

While I could be completely wrong, one would surmise that if you've submitted this idea and no one is taking you up on it, it's likely because no one believes your hypothesis has any credibility.
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211. F5
4:26 PM GMT on January 14, 2006

Did you read the entirety of my post? That is what I said. I am all for reducing our emissions from a pollution aspect. Of course, the benefits have to be equal to or greater than the costs. I've also said in the past that we should be researching alterntive energy sources, if for no other reason than to reduce our dependence on foreign countries who could cut us off at any moment and leave us in critical condition. If it turns out that has a benefit for reducing the temperature of the earth's climate a bit, then that's an additional benefit, assuming it doesn't lead to global cooling which can be just as or even more destructive than global warming.

However, despite the value of any research into alternative fuel sources, until they cost of petroleum, shale, and coal get to the point where they no longer make econmonic sense to use and it becomes feasible to use an alternative energy source, don't look for it to happen soon. The costs in infrastructure alone to build hydrogen stations for fuel-cell powered cars alone would be enormous, and who's going to build them if there are few, if any, fuel-cell powered cars on the road? We're caught in a chicken/egg situation right now and as I said, until the alternatives become economically preferable, little will be done other than continued research.
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210. HurricaneMyles
4:33 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Sorry wrong % there. Made mistake in the calculations. It's really 10% less fossil fuels used. Its not much but a good start if you could get those tunnels working.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
209. HurricaneMyles
3:53 PM GMT on January 14, 2006
Cyclonebuster please. You're tunnels COULD MAYBE produce electricity if you could get them to actually flow. Right now I'd say you're a ways away from that. And electricity for 22 million people is reducing fossile fuel burning, assuming all those people used fossile fuels before and not hydro, solar, or wind plants, by 7%. And thats in the US alone; worldwide, a even smaller % less fossile fuels.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
206. TPaul
8:45 AM EST on January 14, 2006
Plants produce methane link

This is on the Royal Society of Chemistry site. My point here isn't to say don't plant trees, my point is to say we still have much to learn. Its like about 10 years ago when scientist made the discovery that the sun's energy output varies and that it has a direct impact on the planet. I was totally blown away because I would of thought that would of been something we would have surmised a long time ago but apparently not.
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205. TPaul
8:27 AM EST on January 14, 2006
Trees produce methane. I have always been a big tree planter and I have always believed that the destruction of the Amazon rain forest was a bigger issue in the short term in regards to human impact then green house gas prodution. But there is a research article comeing out in Nature that was repoted on NPR last week that has found that trees and I guess most leafy plants produce methane in signifcant quantities possible as a by-product of pectin production. Now I am not going to stop planting trees but it shows that there is still much we do not know about biological workings of our planet.
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204. snowboy
11:17 AM GMT on January 14, 2006
For those whose attitude is "that no one can prove human emissions are contributing to global warming, so we don't have to do a thing to reduce them" my questions is:

Why not just reduce factory emissions, improve efficiency of our vehicles, improve the insulation on our homes, develop alternative energy sources (like wind and solar) and plant lots of trees because these are positive, useful and beneficial activities in their own right?
(You could just ignore the fact that they'd also possibly help to counteract the effects of global warming)

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203. theboldman
9:51 AM GMT on January 14, 2006
im in sac
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202. theboldman
9:51 AM GMT on January 14, 2006
ok thats cool were about socal or nocal
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201. Inyo
9:14 AM GMT on January 14, 2006

sorry if i come off too 'contentious' on here, on other message boards where i post it would just be considered status quo... but i dont want to do damage to what is one of my favorite weather blogs.

over time climate has been influenced by many factors, including the intensity of the sun, the layout of continents, meteor strikes, emissions of different life forms, the tilt and albedo of the earth, etc. Hundreds of millions of years ago, there was much more CO2 in the air. Over time, much of it got trapped under sediment when plants and plankton got buried in shallow seas. As the CO2 was buried, the climate cooled (no, i can't 'prove' the correlation but it seems likely). In the last few million years, there have been severe ice ages which to my knowledge did not occur to this extent 100 myo, except in extreme cases of meteors or huge volcanos.

Now, we are digging up much of the CO2 and putting it back in the atmosphere. Will this cause the earth to revert to dinosaur times? Probably not, but it may cause conditions to become more similar to what they were last time all this stuff was in the air. Is a warmer temperature going to 'kill' the earth? Of course not, this is hippie bull. Any biologist will tell you that warmer, wetter conditions lead to increased biodiversity in almost any ecosystem.

The problem is, we are a species of savannas, deserts, hot dry deserts and cold dry steppes. we don't do well in swamps, jungles, or salt marshes, for the most part - when we live there we usually either live in very low nomadic populations, or we convert the environment to something else. Unearthing all the carbon, if it indeed will cause the climate to warm back to how it was, will only harm us. But hey, maybe it is better this way, we get things moving again, back to the hot, wet primordial swamps, and then we die off and a new animal can take over and do a better job. We've got a billion years or so until the sun goes nova, right? Once that happens, we KNOW it will be warm.
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200. theboldman
1:11 AM PST on January 14, 2006
hey inyo your in cali right?
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199. Inyo
8:36 AM GMT on January 14, 2006
some of these ridiculous 'liberal-created global warming to harm our country' theories make me laugh. the credibility of this is right up there with those on the other side who believe that george bush was personally responsible for the world trade center disaster. sure, it is 'possible', but it is pretty fringe. We know that the conservatives don't like the idea of global warming because it might cost them money... and sadly, those conservatives currently in influence only think in the short term. Do they fail to realize that our dependance on oil is a leading reason we are constantly 'stuck' in the middle east? Even if we tear up the entire state of Alaska, it would only meet a fraction of our current energy needs. Human-caused climate change may or may not be the major reason for the current warming. That doesn't mean we shouldnt spend some resources on learning to use other energy sources. There probably won't be a major flood in Los Angeles this year. Does this mean we should remove all the flood control dams along our canyons? theres no 'proof' there will be a flood, and maybe we could sell off the flood control land to be developed... it might never flood again.

There certainly is a lot of misinformation and idealism coming from some 'leftist' people.. for instance through all those years before humans ever graced this earth with our footsteps, animals then NEVER changed the climate.... totally untrue. However, the belief that our country will be 'irreversibly damaged' by using a different energy source, or that we will 'never be capable' of impacting the weather, is silly. Most of us posting here live in one of the richest, most prosperous, powerful, inventive countries in the history of the earth. it is silly to think that we can't do without oil, and that all our scientists are liars. it's disturbing that so many 'flag waving' conservatives will say such things.

I also agree that it is a myth that we are in control of the environment.. i do think some people like the idea of global warming because it means humans can control the climate. In reality, yes, huge, sudden changes in climate have occured in the past, and will happen again... Yes, the earth has been much hotter than now, just a few thousand years ago it was so hot and dry in California that the Mojave Desert is believed to have spilled over the Tehachipi Mountains and taken up most of the San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast Range (the xerothermic period). There are still desert plants stranded there from that period. It WILL happen again. (although it is believed that the current warming is making california wetter, not drier... different factors are involved). If we are in for one of these extreme natural fluxuations soon, we'd better be ready. and it is completely ridiculous to do anything that might make it harder on us... because it could be an interesting century.
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