Thursday, August 27, 2009

A top 10 list no state wants to be on

State-by-State Temperature Increases

Below are the top ten states for predicted temperature increases. Download the analysis and see what’s predicted for your state.

1. Kansas 10.4
2. Nebraska 10.3
3. Iowa 10.2
4. South Dakota 10.0
5. Oklahoma 9.9
6. Missouri 9.9
7. Illinois 9.6
8. Nevada 9.4
9. Utah 9.4
10. Colorado 9.3

"If current trends continue, the weather and landscapes of the future will be nearly unrecognizable compared to what we are used to."

— Jonathan Hoekstra, director of climate change for The Nature Conservancy

What will temperatures be like in your state in 100 years? If current trends continue, chances are they’ll be much hotter than they are today — especially if you live in the American Midwest.

A new analysis of U.S. climate projections from The Nature Conservancy finds that temperatures in the worst-hit states could be up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than present-day levels by the year 2100.

Kansas, Nebraska and other Great Plains states would be the hardest-hit by climbing temperatures, according to the analysis. But temperatures everywhere could rise by 3 degrees Fahrenheit or more, meaning all of us would feel the heavy impacts of climate change:

  • Hot summer temperatures could arrive three weeks earlier and last three weeks longer in the Northeast, with more days averaging above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In the Northwest, higher temperatures could contribute to earlier spring snowmelt, increasing the risk of forest fires and summer drought.
  • Water could become more and more scarce in the Southwest as temperatures climb and spring snowmelt declines.
  • Rising sea levels and increased storm surges could threaten low-lying coastal areas in the Southeast.
The complete story (and new research findings from the Nature Conservancy) can be found right here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wind farms can appear sinister to the weatherman

FILE - In this May 19, 2006 file photo, a group of 260-feet tall wind towers are silhoutted against a bright orange sky at the Elk River Wind farm near Beaumont, Kan. The spinning blades atop 200-foot towers might appear to the naked eye as ... well ... spinning blades. But to Doppler radar, wind farms appear as a splatter of green, yellow, orange and red _ much like a violent storm or even a tornado. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, file)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Wind farms have been blamed for disrupting the lives of birds, bats and, most recently, the land-bound sage grouse.

Now the weather forecaster?

The massive spinning blades affixed to towers 200 feet high can appear on Doppler radar like a violent storm or even a tornado.

The phenomenon has affected several National Weather Service radar sites in different parts the country, even leading to a false tornado alert near Dodge City, Kansas, in the heart of Tornado Alley. In Des Moines, Iowa, the weather service received a frantic warning from an emergency worker who had access to Doppler radar images.

The alert was quickly called off in Kansas and meteorologists calmed the emergency worker down, but with enough wind turbines going up last year to power more than 6 million homes and a major push toward alternative energy, more false alerts seem inevitable.

New installations are concentrated, understandably in windy states like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Iowa, all part of Tornado Alley.

(Crazy huh? Now I've heard everything! Click here for the rest of the story).

Researchers find lighter winds blowing across huge areas of the USA

In a Dec. 30, 2008 file photo, two wind turbines stand near a traditional windmill on a farm near Mount Carmel, Iowa. A first-of-its-kind study suggests that average and peak wind speeds have been noticeably slowing since 1973, especially in the Midwest and the East.

WASHINGTON -- The wind, a favorite power source of the green energy movement, seems to be dying down across the United States. And the cause, ironically, may be global warming -- the very problem wind power seeks to address.

The idea that winds may be slowing is still a speculative one, and scientists disagree whether that is happening. But a first-of-its-kind study suggests that average and peak wind speeds have been noticeably slowing since 1973, especially in the Midwest and the East.

"It's a very large effect," said study co-author Eugene Takle, a professor of atmospheric science at Iowa State University. In some places in the Midwest, the trend shows a 10 percent drop or more over a decade. That adds up when the average wind speed in the region is about 10 to 12 miles per hour.

For the rest of this thought-provoking AP article click here.

(This article definitely made me do a double-take. It makes some sense, meteorologically. The northern latitudes are warming much faster than the low latitudes, which is [theoretically] resulting in less of a temperature contrast from north to south, from southern Canada into America's heartland. That, in turn, would/should result in lower wind speeds. The greater the temperature contrast, the stronger the winds blow to keep the atmosphere in state of equilibrium. More warming north = smaller temperature contrast = less wind)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Climate change opens arctic route for German ships

BERLIN (Reuters) - Two German ships set off on Friday on the first journey across Russia's Arctic-facing northern shore without the help of icebreakers after climate change helped opened the passage, the company said.

Niels Stolberg, president and CEO of Beluga Shipping GmbH, said the "Beluga Fraternity" and "Beluga Foresight" left the Russian port of Vladivostok on the historic and cost-saving journey with cargo picked up in South Korea bound for Holland.

The melting of Arctic ice as a result of climate change has made it possible to send Beluga's multi-purpose heavy lift ships along the legendary Northeast Passage, Stolberg said.

Beluga got Russian authorities' clearance to send the first non-Russian commercial vessels through the route on Friday.

The Northern Sea Route trims 4,000 nautical miles off the usual 11,000-mile journey via the Suez Canal -- yielding considerable savings in fuel costs and CO2 emissions, he said.

"Russian submarines and icebreakers have used the Northern Route in the past but it wasn't open for regular commercial shipping before now because there are many areas with thick ice," Stolberg told Reuters in an email interview.

Here is the complete Reuters article.

Study: climate change means more heavy rain

Record rainfall led to disastrous flooding across much of Iowa in 2008, including the town of Cedar Rapids. Scientists say climate change will lead to an increase in heavy rainfall events for most of the world.

Climate change will lead to an increase in heavy rainfall events across most of the world, according to a study published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Caltech.

The computer models used in the study predict that areas such as North America can expect a significant increase in heavy rain.

How much rain? The study suggests that precipitation in extreme events will increase by about 6% for every 1.8 degree rise in global temperature. A global temperature increase of anywhere from 2 to 11 degrees is expected by 2100, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Overall, while the pattern is clear and consistent outside of the tropics, climate models give conflicting results within the tropics so more research will be needed to determine the outcomes in those regions.

The primary reason for the precipitation increase is that warmer air can retain more water vapor than cooler air. So as the climate heats up, "there will be more vapor in the atmosphere, which will lead to an increase in precipitation extremes," says study co-author Paul O'Gorman of MIT.

The USA Today article is here.

Review of Cleveland rainfall records indicates climate change has already arrived

A climate-change storm isn't coming. It's already here.

That's the conclusion drawn by some climate scientists - and supported by an independent analysis of National Weather Service rainfall records by The Plain Dealer.

The rainfall records reveal an increasing number of days each year with heavy storms - those quick, violent bursts that drop a large amount of rain in a short time. Those types of storms more often also lead to damaging and expensive suburban flooding - and conversely, dangerously dry periods or even drought in between.

The complete article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer is here.