Friday, June 19, 2009

Scientists look to cloud-tops for faster severe storm predictions

Severe thunderstorms can be nasty beasts. Intense lightning, hail, high winds, torrential rain, and at worst, tornadoes top the list of severe storms’ more, er, stimulating features.

Now, two scientists at the University of Wisconsin’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies say they have figured out a way to dramatically improve forecasters’ ability to predict which seemingly run-of-the-mill storm cells are likely to go postal.

Essentially, they use infrared images from weather satellites to give forecasters as much as 45 minutes earlier notice that a severe thunderstorm is brewing than the forecasters currently can get if they only used radar or reports from storm spotters.

Tools like this would be valuable enough today as a way to help improve severe-weather warnings. Their value likely would increase as the country copes with global warming.

Click here for the full article in Christian Science Monitor.

Global warming: want to see Northwest impacts? Just look around

(This article caught my attention, especially the news that Alaskan winters are running nearly 6.5 degrees F. warmer than average. The result: beetles aren't being killed off during the winter months - they're destroying millions of acres of rich forestland from Alaska and British Columbia into the U.S. Rocky Mountains. My fear: the beetle infestation works its way east into Minnesota's hardwood forests and the BWCA. Is that what its going to take for the professional skeptics to wake up and admit something is going on? Lately I've read some articles linking people concerned about climate change with evolution and abortion rights. It made my blood boil: everywhere you turn there's a new conspiracy theory, zealots stereotyping anyone and everyone who looks at the [real] science and jumps to conclusions - we're all socialists or communists, this is merely a smokescreen for the government to take away our personal rights, blah, blah, blah. Say what you will, but the science is unequivocal now. There IS a global problem. Just because we all experience day to day weather does not make us experts on climate change. For the record I don't pretend to be a climate scientist, but I've been following the science closely. Everyone from the National Academy of Science to the National Science Fund and the American Meteorological Society agrees that climate change is real. This is the result of peer-reviewed science, not some wing-nut with a blog. What's it going to take for the skeptics to admit they've been misleading people, twisting the science and the truth in the process? Most logical, rational people [of both parties] who actually examine the data come to the conclusion that something is going on. To believe otherwise, with the preponderance of evidence, is disingenuous. It's not science but dogma, adherence to a world-view and philosophy that can't get past the fact that man might actually impact the world around him. Actions have consequences. To pretend that a 38% spike in greenhouse gases, most of that in the last 50 years, will have NO impact is dangerously naive, borderline pathological. I'm conservative in most aspects of my life, but that doesn't negate the science, it doesn't trump the facts. Climate change is slow-motion global transformation. You can't look out your window, looking at WEATHER, and use that as an argument disputing what's happening worldwide. Unless you're seeing new trees, flowers, shrubs and birds in your yard that weren't there a generation ago. Sorry for the rant, but I'm increasingly frustrated with the denier's refusal to open their eyes and SEE what's happening all around them. The slow trickle of evidence has turned into a torrent. This article is another piece of the puzzle).


Living in a corner of America powered, irrigated and inspired by water, we ought to treat Tuesday's report released by the White House, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, as a wake-up call and cold shower.

"We are the alpha and the omega of global warming," said Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., who helped write a flawed -- but needed -- bill to change national energy policy. It's pending in the House.

Want to know how climate change is changing America? Read the report. Want its bottom line: "Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced." Changes "are expected to increase."

Want to see impacts on the Northwest? Just look around, something that global-warming skeptics resolutely refuse to do.

Global warming is shrinking the winter snowpack. A smaller snowpack means reduction in the runoff that sustains our river flows, makes the desert bloom, allows salmon to reach and return from the ocean, and powers the world's greatest hydroelectric system.

The consequences don't end when our rivers reach salt water.

"Climate change and ocean acidification are already having major impacts on Washington: Our $100 million shellfish industry is in crisis after four years of oyster reproductive failure from ocean acidification," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

The complete article at is here.

Oceans rising faster than UN predicted, scientists say

By Alex Morales

June 18 (Bloomberg) -- Polar ice caps are melting faster and oceans are rising more than the United Nations projected just two years ago, 10 universities said in a report suggesting that climate change has been underestimated.

Global sea levels will climb a meter (39 inches) by 2100, 69 percent more than the most dire forecast made in 2007 by the UN’s climate panel, according to the study released today in Brussels. The forecast was based on new findings, including that Greenland’s ice sheet is losing 179 billion tons of ice a year.

“We have to act immediately and we have to act strongly,” Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told reporters in the Belgian capital. “Time is clearly running out.”

In six months, negotiators from 192 nations will meet in Copenhagen to broker a new treaty to fight global warming by limiting the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels and clearing forests.

“A lukewarm agreement” in the Danish capital “is not only inexcusable, it would be reckless,” Schellnhuber said.

Fossil-fuel combustion in the world’s power plants, vehicles and heaters alone released 31.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, 1.8 percent more than in 2007, according to calculations from BP Plc data.

To read the complete article click here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Amazing video of the Austin, Minnesota tornado

Amazing storm chasing video of the Austin, Minnesota tornado is here (thanks to Brad Nelson from DTN in the Twin Cities).

From KEYC-TV in Mankato:

Residents in Austin spent much of the day cleaning up after strong storms last night.The National Weather Service says one tornado touched down Northwest of Austin.The tornado track was 10 miles long, with winds of between 111 and 135 miles per hour.Several homes were damaged as well as businesses in town.Cars and even one truck were flipped.Downed trees and power lines blocked some streets, cutting power to much of the city.Chief Paul Phillipp says, 'The main power lines coming in from the north - if you've been out there at all, the power lines are just snapped all over the place, so quite a significant amount of devastation there."One man who rode the storm out in a shed that was rolled by the twister was slightly injured.No word yet on what the cost of the damage will be.

See more at KEYC-TV's web site here.

KTTC-TV in Austin has some great coverage on the tornado here.

Report says U.S. already feeling the effects of global warming

A government climate-change report predicts increases in very high temperatures, which scientists say will have wide-ranging affects.

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- A new government study on climate change says the United States is already feeling effects of human-induced global warming.

A report released June 16 by the U.S. Global Change Research Program says global warming is "unequivocal and primarily human-induced." It says climate changes underway in the United States probably will grow, and how much depends on how policy makers respond.

"First and foremost, human-induced climate change is a reality, not only in remote polar regions and in small tropical islands, but every place around the country, in our own backyards," Jane Lubchenco, director of the office of science and technology policy at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a press conference at the report's release.

Areas of Florida illustrated in red would be under water with a three-foot sea rise in sea level, which is predicted for this century, the report say.

The complete article is here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Government study warns of climate change effects

Published: June 16, 2009

WASHINGTON — The impact of a changing climate is already being felt across the United States, like shifting migration patterns of butterflies in the West and heavier downpours in the Midwest and East, according to a government study to be released on Tuesday.

Even if the nation takes significant steps to slow emissions of heat-trapping gases, the impact of global warming is expected to become more severe in coming years, the report says, affecting farms and forests, coastlines and floodplains, water and energy supplies, transportation and human health.

The complete New York Times article is here:

Click here to go to the United States Global Change Research Program, charged with "integrating federal research on climate and global change"

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Making case for climate as driver of migration

Published: June 14, 2009
NEW YORK — A new report on human migration and climate change, released as delegates from 182 countries gathered in Bonn over the past two weeks to continue hammering out some preliminary language for a new global climate treaty, made its case plainly:

“The impacts of climate change are already causing migration and displacement,” the document began, adding that by midcentury, “the prospects for the scope and scale could vastly exceed anything that has occurred before.”

The study, titled “In Search of Shelter” and written by a large cast from several nongovernmental organizations, including the United Nations, CARE International and Columbia University, combined climatological and demographic data with field interviews of migrants already on the move. The aim was to provide an overview, with rich maps and an oft-lacking dose of empiricism, of where the changing environment is driving decision-making on the ground and which areas are likely to be hit hardest if things get worse.

The New York Times article is here.