Drought, Fire, Flood: In the News

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 5:22 AM GMT on July 12, 2011

Drought, Fire, Flood: In the News

I have been writing about a variety of issues that I know are of interest to only a small number of people – U.S. science organizations, climate model software, and validation of climate models. I am going to move away from that arcane set of subjects for a while and spend a little more time in the climate mainstream. In this entry I want to touch on several subjects – starting with my garden.

My garden is in the flat land that is the western edge of the Great Plains, just east of Boulder, Colorado. Weather wise, it is a complex and difficult environment: more than 5000 feet above sea level, reliant upon water from the winter snow pack in the mountains, huge swings of hot and cold. In terms of climate types, I have seen region defined as both arid and semiarid. In the last week, we have had three or more inches of rain – hard driving rain with much lightning. There is water standing between the rows in the garden. The week of July 4 it was so dry there was a fire ban, and many firework fires.

Last summer in Boulder we had the Fourmile Fire, which burned thousands of acres and dozens of houses. With this rain, we have mudslides, rock slides and flash floods (Longmont Times Call). It all makes you appreciate the importance of the weather and the climate. Wet and dry. Hot and cold. ( 485 Billion Dollar Impact of Weather)

Boulder is a microcosm of what is going on in the U.S. There have been overwhelming fires in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. (Texas Fires). Dangerous drought and heat is spreading all across the southern half of the U.S. The dust storm last week in Arizona was reminiscent of pictures of the Dust Bowl. (more here). We were overwhelmed not long ago by the Mississippi River flooding. I have almost forgotten about the Missouri River flooding.



Figure 1: From KFAB Omaha News Radio. Photo Credit AP: Missouri River flood of Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant.

We see here the persistence of weather, climate, snow cover, drought, floods - one extreme after another. Jeff Master’s wrote an excellent summary of 2010-2011 as being a year of the most extreme events since 1816 – the year of Mount Tambora, a definitive and understood climate anomaly. Jeff writes that June 2011 continues the run. July 2011 is looking strong. It has been more than 300 months since there was a “below average” mean temperature. That’s a little compelling.

We are being handed one case study after another, where we see the impact that weather and climate have on us. And what is that impact? We see vulnerable people losing their homes, their crops. But where is the real threat? What does it mean that 213 counties in Texas are primary disaster areas?

Energy, economy, population – markets. We all know that the weather affects our economy. We rely on a stable climate. We see here and now an interconnected world, where extreme heat kills thousands and destroys crops and send food prices soaring. We see multiple billion dollar liens placed on our economy by floods, droughts, and tornadoes. These costs come at a time when economies all around the world are weak. There is a debt crisis, and the weather is demanding more loans. Right here and now the world is providing one climate disaster after another. The weather and climate are showing the need for more planning, for building resilience and recovery strategies. The weather and climate are revealing our vulnerabilities. While there is the obvious, the family fleeing the flood, the destroyed Joplin, Missouri hospital, there is also the accumulated impact felt through markets, higher food prices, emergency relief, things that will not be fixed, people relocating.

We are being offered lessons. I have written this far and not strung together the words “climate change” or mentioned “global warming.” This is the weather in our warming climate. The take away message from climate models, Be Prepared.

r

Rood on To the Point

Open Climate Modeling:

Greening of the Desert

Stickiness and Climate Models

Open Source Communities, What are the Problems?

A Culture of Checking


Organizing U.S. Climate Modeling:

Something New in the Past Decade?

The Scientific Organization

A Science-Organized Community

Validation and the Scientific Organization

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The TYPE Carbon in Co2 matters Greatly



Fossil Fuel and Atmospheric Levels of Carbon Dioxide
1/9/2011 8:33:59 AM
By Richard Hilderman, Ph.D.


The atmosphere can handle about 700 billion tons of carbon. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have been increasing since the industrial revolution. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which acts like a blanket in the atmosphere to trap heat (see my posting entitled Solar Activity, Greenhouse Gas Levels and Climate Change on Our Earth). Today the atmosphere contains about 800 billion tons of carbon and it continues to rise. How do we know that the burning of carbon-based fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas contribute to the atmospheric carbon overload?

Carbon has a unique footprint which allows scientists to determine whether the burning of fossil fuel contributes to the atmospheric carbon overload. Carbon is composed of three isotopes which are carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14. Carbon consists mainly of the carbon-12 and carbon-13. A small amount of the carbon atom is the radioactive isotope carbon-14. In the upper atmosphere cosmic rays from the Sun react with nitrogen to create carbon-14. Carbon-14 is unstable and over time is converted back to nitrogen. After 60,000 years there is no carbon-14 remaining in the original sample because it has been completely converted to nitrogen.

Fossil fuel reservoirs are composed of coal, oil or natural gas and over time these reservoirs are buried deep in the ocean floor or underground. The carbon atoms found in both the atmosphere and initially in fossil fuel contain all three carbon isotopes (carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14). After 60,000 years fossil fuel contains only carbon-12 (all of the carbon-14 has been converted to nitrogen) but the atmosphere still maintains a healthy mixture of the three isotopes. Since it takes millions of years to create fossil fuel, the carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuel would no carbon-14. If the burning of carbon-based fossil releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the amount of carbon-14 isotope found in atmospheric carbon dioxide should decrease over time. Measurements of the isotopic composition of atmospheric carbon dioxide do indeed demonstrate a steady decline of carbon-14. Furthermore, fossil fuel also contains a much lower amount of carbon-13 than does the atmosphere. Over time the amount of carbon-13 found in atmospheric carbon dioxide has decreased.

Clearly, the atmosphere’s carbon isotopic composition is changing and this change matches the isotope fingerprint of coal, oil and natural gas. This demonstrates that the burning of fossil fuel is partly responsible for the current atmospheric carbon overload.

There are three broad types of human activities that contribute to the amount of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) in the atmosphere: carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels; carbon dioxide emissions from cutting and burning of forest; and, the emission of methane (from livestock and rice cultivation) and nitrous oxide (from fertilizer use). Burning of fossil fuel accounts for 52-65 percent of the human-induced emissions while deforestation accounts for 12-25 percent and 23 percent comes from methane and nitrous oxide.

It is easy to understand that we can reduce the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide by converting to non-carbon renewable energy sources. Stopping deforestation will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, the creation of new forest by planting trees will also help reduce the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide because trees extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for photosynthetic activity. However, continued population growth will make the task of reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions and deforestation more difficult because the expanding population will require more resources. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the world population needs to stabilize.


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Anyway off to enjoy some of Minnesota's beautiful lakes later all
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2347
sorry I didn't know rusty
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2347
a molecule of CO2 is CO2 no matter what makes it...How do you tell the difference? explain ..
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Let me help explain MAN MADE CO2 causes these things: warmer temps, cooler temps, more rain, less rain, more snow, less snow, stronger winds, lighter winds, faster jet stream, slower jet stream, less ice, more ice, more forest fires, less forest fires, more floods, less floods, faster winds, slower winds, more tornadoes, less tornadoes, more hurricanes, less hurricanes, more hail, less hail, more species, less species, more earthquakes, less earthquakes,more tsunami, less tsunami, more coral, less coral, more frequent events, less frequent events. I need to know if I missed any I am sure I did so if you could please help. Also remember please post only the ones that come exclusively from MAN MADE CO2.
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2347
It is maddening to watch a licensed tour boat full of 60 "unsupervised" snorklers get dropped offshore John Pennekamp Park several times a day, swim out over the coral of the Greecian Rocks stand on the reefs, break off peices of corals and Lord only knows what else and then have the bunny huggers come through and proclaim "OMG our precious reefs are being destroyed by acidification".



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Quoting cat5hurricane:

You bring up a good point regarding the corals. While I am far from anything close to a credit in Marine Biology or Oceanography, I do know for a fact that many of the dying corals are cyclical, and that others that are beginning to die off today have done so back just before 1880 or so.

Which kinda leaves me at a loss for really pushing forward the C02 emission theory for the cause of the degeneration, and thus regeneration.

I think with any kind of climate change--occurring on this planet for billions of years, eventually some will migrate to other areas. That now, I do believe.


I think we'll see that studies for viral and algae increases is not an AGW friendly pursuit.
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444. Neapolitan

With respect for your seemingly vast knowledge and extensive collection of graphs and factoids and with a mind that obviously thinks on a far grander scale than mine, would you be so kind as to address post #85?

You see, I'm just a simple country boy with only an early 70s era conservative southern college education and I fail to understand how the coral reef restoration projects can be so fruitfull.

I must use my limited disciplines and faculty and employ a much more mundane and bucolic comparison:

If all my crops were dying in my garden and all my sheep were dying in the pasture due to an ever worsening condition, then how am I able to replant my garden and restore my flock at a rate greater than previously thought possible in the presence of this same ever worsening condition that killed them to start with?

Does increased acidification create a virus friendly enviroment? I haven't seen anyone ask that.

If not, then if you remove the ever flourishing virus plague and algea invasion due to the sea urchin kill from the equation will acidification alone destroy the world's reefs as now reported but previously only reported as "other factors of concern"?

The future of the world's coral reefs may depend on your profound problem solving capabilities.

Please help us.



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Quoting cat5hurricane:

I'm still waiting, Neapolitan. hehehe

Nice try. Trying to butter up to her after your rude and pretentious comments toward her in Master's Blog. Yes, because she is not a climatologist, that does not make her a climate expert. However, that does not give you the right to belittle her credentials and thus dismiss anything she says regarding climate just because she lacks that degree.

Don't worry, It'll only be a matter of time before she sees right through your character.

Sad.

If you care to discuss this or any non-climate/non-weather matters further, I politely suggest you send me a WU Mail; as it is, your repetition of these false accusations in any of the fora is probably a violation of Rule of the Road #1: "Please do not carry on personal disputes in the blogs.". At any rate, I'd like to keep my banless record intact, so I'm going to ignore any such future comments you. I think the site will be better off for it.

Thanks!
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15110
It's amusing to see the Pavlovian responses over in atmospheric scientist Angela Fritz's blog by some of Weather Underground's most ardent denialists. All she did was post--verbatim and sans commentary--some text and a graphic from the NCDC's June Climate Report, and the pro-pollution crew came a-running. One immediately stated that he disagreed with her; another chimed in that he didn't know the difference between climate and weather; and still another asked her whether earthquakes were an atmospheric phenomenon.

Umm...okay.

Of course, one of those three fumbled the denialist football a bit when he went on to state that "the vast majority of climatologists are forecasting a period very similar to what the U.S. experienced in the late 1970's and 1980's," and it was quickly pointed out that there was rapid warming during that time.

Oops. ;-)

I guess it's true what they say: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15110
Quoting nymore:
Green- While your ideas may work or not, I am not sure how they work in a rural area, since there is no public transportation for people to get to they jobs. The telecommuting thing is not a bad idea if you can do it in your line of work but not sure how that helps farmers, loggers, miners, building trades or any manual labor job also not sure if you have been to America but it is mostly rural especially the midwestern and western states. Cities would not exist without the rural folks since they are the ones who produce the food, the timber and the minerals needed by the city to function.


I agree there are jobs that need oil. My granfather managed orange groves during WWII and he was one of hte few people with rations for his truck. As long as he stayed on his travel route, he acted as bus driver, delivery man, post man, etc as he toured the groves. The point is that we did this once and the country survived just fine.

Slam the rationing into place again and watch the innovations in bikes, electric bikes, telecommuting and so on take off. As soneone who has lived like a student for the last few years and will live like that for the next few as well, I can state that luxury doesn't matter a bit. Health care, clean living, happiness for my loved ones... these things matter. As someone who lived in South America for a few years, I can also state that sitting on a beach with a few Brazilian friends with horrible cheap beer and a guitar is more fun than anything i've done with expensive toys. IF this is what it takes to 1) save America and 2) save the world, I am all for it.
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Green- While your ideas may work or not, I am not sure how they work in a rural area, since there is no public transportation for people to get to they jobs. The telecommuting thing is not a bad idea if you can do it in your line of work but not sure how that helps farmers, loggers, miners, building trades or any manual labor job also not sure if you have been to America but it is mostly rural especially the midwestern and western states. Cities would not exist without the rural folks since they are the ones who produce the food, the timber and the minerals needed by the city to function.
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2347
Fascist- I am not sure why people keep trying to make this a political issue, whether liberal, conservative, republican or democrat I have never met a politician I would trust. If they are not kissing your baby, they are stealing their sucker. The Fox news thing is always brought up here or some denialist web site do you think Msnbc or some alarmist site is any better. I would not take anything any one of organizations has said as truth, I believe they are all working some kind of angle. Like I told Neapolitan if you don't believe that here is some cotton candy and a balloon enjoy your time on the carnival midway because you are a mark.
Member Since: July 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2347
Quoting JBastardi:


Until there is a viable replacement for oil, there is no argument. The restrictions your side wants to place on the economy will destroy it, if it's not already too late.


None of what you said is true.

"Until there is a viable replacement for oil, there is no argument."

ot true. There is always the 'nothing' option. If oil was shut down to emergency rationing, what would happen? Telecommuting rises, public transportation goes up. Less congestion, less lung disease and other health problems, etc. Weigh the saving on oil imports versus the economic costs of lost jobs in vacation industries, etc who would be shut down.

CO2 is destroying the world. Chose not to see it but if the choice is no oil with no replacement and the world survives with some boo hooing (mine included), I am all for that.

"The restrictions your side wants to place on the economy will destroy it, if it's not already too late."

That is two statements actually. Taking the second part first: "if it's not already too late." That was done by the those during the Bush administration who looted America and didn't solve the structural problems, chosing instead to focus on spending/contracts for thier special interests. They could have focused on basic economics and the problems associated with outsourcing to foreign coutnries, poor education and so on, i.e. the stuff that would have made America strong in the long run rather than puff and bluff for the pols.

As for the first part, I'm nto sure what you mean by restrictions. However, restirctions on pollution benefit the economy in the same way that good engineering benefits the economy. You dump pollutant X into the environment and it comes back in health costs, lower job productivity, and so on for years. THere have been studies about this. For example, the studies on biking to work show millions of dollars of saving across the board, from direct health to incedent health to direct savings, a lot of which comes from reduced pollution. Same thing in the construction industry: run a safe site and the quality of work and moral increase and more than pay back the pain in the ass restrictions.

If by restrictions, you mean financial restrictions, you mean taxes. Well I am all for that. I live in Europe and have roughly the same standard of living that I would have in the US, the big variable being land cost. Do I mind paying much higher taxes? Nope. I have excellent health care, excellent community services, clean water, clean land and so on. I don't love it all, I would love to get rid of red tape and make things more wor at will but that is different from taxes.

So in short, i am not sure what restrictions you think are 'destoying' the economy. However, if I had the money and free time, I would consider actually being a NOT HURT ANYONE eco-terrorist. Since the world governments are too hamstrung by the GOP and whatever the bribe taking equivilent are in other countries to be able to act in the face of clear and present danger, I would love to see an organization that set a limit of $300 per barrel, enforced by monkey wrenching (that again didn't harm anyone).

I beleive it would be better for the economy in the long run than the sit on your hands can't do nothing un American and anti American whiney Tea party mentality your post demonstrates.
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It hurts bad because it shows the stupidity of the American public. A dangerous ignorance, a scary ignorance, yes it hurts to know our country is being driven into the ground by Fox watching dimbulbs.

Quoting cat5hurricane:
As we so cordially went over time and again, Fox News is the Number 1 cable Network news in the United States.

Number 1 is number 1. I know that just guts the insides of some. I know the truth hurts.

Here, see for yourself: US Cable News

Number 1 is number 1. I'm not a mind reader or anything, but I'm guessing that there is probably a reason for that...
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Oh,,as for post #422 catty5

Here's a clue as to how your ideology seeps into your thought process.

"Squirt"


Squirt, slang for a small thing or person


As in,,I was fighting the cold war sport when you were, well a Squirt in yer Dads eye I guess.


So your epic fail is even more conspired as your the Faux JB Guy as well.

That's something we here cant help you with.

But I wish you luck with it.


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Quoting Ossqss:


Dude, do you think an AGW proponent blog, on an AGW site is going to let an AGW proponent poster be blanked out to the public in the long run?

No, they will not.

Remember, this is not an objective site and will fall under the rule of the provider. They have that control no matter what you think.

Just sayin, there are current technical difficulties overcoming the minuses and they will fix that soon.

They will rebuild him!


Keep on, keepin on folks!

-The pain is certainly, and admittedly, being felt !




Wish I could tell you more, but--again--I can't. Soon, though. I promise.... ;-)

In closing: last month was the hottest June in Texas since records began there in 1895. Along the same note, when Texas Gov. Perry called for the first of three days of prayer for rain back in mid-April, 10% of his state was under "exceptional" drought. That number is now up to a whopping 71%.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15110
Quoting cat5hurricane:

That's the biggest bluff I've seen from you yet. You sure don't get around to playing much poker, do you?

I love how you make it appear you know something that we all don't. Classic.

Never play all your cards at once.


Dude, do you think an AGW proponent blog, on an AGW site is going to let an AGW proponent poster be blanked out to the public in the long run?

No, they will not.

Remember, this is not an objective site and will fall under the rule of the provider. They have that control no matter what you think.

Just sayin, there are current technical difficulties overcoming the minuses and they will fix that soon.

They will rebuild him!


Keep on, keepin on folks!

-The pain is certainly, and admittedly, being felt !



Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8217
Quoting cat5hurricane:

That's the biggest bluff I've seen from you yet. You sure don't get around to playing much poker, do you?

I love how you make it appear you know something that we all don't. Classic.

Never play all your cards at once.

To repeat: soon enough the truth will be revealed. Stay tuned.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15110
Quoting JBastardi:


For someone able to make detailed posts at all hours of the working day, you must be a Federal Government employee.

Oh, bad guess. I've only been a federal government employ once: during my time in the U.S. Air Force. (Forgive me for not feeling guilty about that.) I'm a writer, blogger, and software developer, so I'm at the computer pretty much all day, every day.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15110
Quoting Ossqss:


And you wonder why you are blanked out?

Oh, I don't wonder at all. The reason my posts are hidden has nothing to do with what you may wish to believe. I'm currently enjoined from talking about it, but soon enough the truth will be revealed. Yes, soon enough... ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15110
First, I hate smart phones!

Second, get a grip and grow up ! Gheeze..... Out>

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8217
No I believe you just said dat Mr Man with a plan.


LoL
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Oh, I'm so sorry; did I tax your attention span? Well, feel free to skip the parts you don't comprehend.

I once again find myself amused by someone who has been a member for half the time I have and has made more posts than I have commenting on how much time I spend here. Oh, irony of ironies! ;-)


And you wonder why you are blanked out? Read what you posted again and think about the maturity level you convey from such ........


Gnight>>>
Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8217
Quoting cat5hurricane:
406.

Neo. You could have wasted all that time composing that inept rebuttal by just saying: "No". "You are wrong."

I guess some have more time on our hands than others. Those vacation days the gov't lets you roll over isn't a bad deal.

Oh, I'm so sorry; did I tax your attention span? Well, feel free to skip the parts you don't comprehend.

I once again find myself amused by someone who has been a member for half the time I have and has made more posts than I have commenting on how much time I spend here. Oh, irony of ironies! ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 15110
Quoting cat5hurricane:

Well, if some got their ass in gear before the stock took off with some of this green stuff year ago, they wouldn't be so miserable sitting all day on a weather blog with a Communist political agenda against Corporations.

Sad, isn't it.


No it is not sad, but inspiring. What we are doing to the economy is sad. I think we are on the edge of understanding through truth and visibility. The internet is making that happen on its own. The numbers are there for anyone to view through the spindoctors. We will all inevitably find our way to the logical end. We always do.

So speaking of Spin Doctors, which Prince will be the ultimate king of the argument? :)



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Dr. Ricky Rood's Climate Change Blog

About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.

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Clouds in the lee of the Rockies at sunset.
Clouds in the lee of the Rockies at sunset.
Clouds in the lee of the Rockies at sunset.
Clouds in the lee of the Rockies at sunset.