100 degrees F in Siberia!


Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory

The Arctic heat wave that sent Siberian temperatures soaring to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the first day of summer put an exclamation point on an astonishing transformation of the Arctic environment that’s been underway for about 30 years.

As long ago as the 1890s, scientists predicted that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would lead to a warming planet, particularly in the Arctic, where the loss of reflective snow and sea ice would further warm the region. Climate models have consistently pointed to “Arctic amplification” emerging as greenhouse gas concentrations increase.

Well, Arctic amplification is now here in a big way. The Arctic is warming at roughly twice the rate of the globe as a whole. When extreme heat waves like this one strike, it stands out to everyone. Scientists are generally reluctant to say “We told you so,” but the record shows that we did.

The question now on the table is will nations led by fools who continually reject science change their practices in the least? Or are the residents of the planet stuck into a downward spiral, refusing to act – for whatever excuses they adopt – until it is too late to halt our collective demise?

BTW, don’t ignore the weather


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Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are running more than three degrees above average, increasing the prospects for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes this spring and potentially stronger hurricane activity in the summer and fall.

The last time Gulf of Mexico waters were similarly warm in 2017, it coincided with an above-average tornado season through the spring, and then Category 4 Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast at the end of summer…

The annual barrage of tempestuous fury stems from the volatile clash of shifting seasons. As springtime warmth begins to build in the Gulf of Mexico, surges of mild air meander north — only to collide with stubbornly persistent cold shots of winter exiting the Rockies. It’s that collision that brews severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

No matter how you slice it, this is going to be a tough year. Between nature and numbnuts politicians running our federal government, every disaster is likely to be exaggerated by incompetence and unprepared ideologues who believe that not spending money on the needs of citizens is heavenly ordained. Just like kissing corporate butt.

Simulation of 2017 Hurricanes and Aerosol Tracking

How can you see the atmosphere? By tracking what is carried on the wind. Tiny aerosol particles such as smoke, dust, and sea salt are transported across the globe, making visible weather patterns and other normally invisible physical processes.

❝ This visualization uses data from NASA satellites, combined with mathematical models in a computer simulation allow scientists to study the physical processes in our atmosphere. By following the sea salt that is evaporated from the ocean, you can see the storms of the 2017 hurricane season.

NASA GRACE Satellite Mapping


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❝ Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center generate groundwater and soil moisture drought indicators each week. They are based on terrestrial water storage observations derived from GRACE satellite data and integrated with other observations, using a sophisticated numerical model of land surface water and energy processes.

❝ The drought indicators describe current wet or dry conditions, expressed as a percentile showing the probability of occurrence within the period of record from 1948 to the present, with lower values (warm colors) meaning dryer than normal, and higher values (blues) meaning wetter than normal. These are provided as both images and binary data files.

Important stuff even if you don’t earn your living from the land. That ain’t a large number of folks as the percentage of US population. Their products are significant even in a global economy.

Sooner or later, everything in these maps is going to affect your life.

Strangest weather recorded this year — so far


icy imprint left standing in a parking lot in Greenville, North Carolina in FebruaryTrista Stiles

February 2015 wasn’t just the record coldest February in Syracuse, New York. It was also their coldest single month dating to 1903. Their average temperature during the month, taking into account actual highs and lows, was 9 degrees.

By May, the pattern shifted, making record warmth the talk of the Northeast. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island each sweat through their record warmest May. Cities such as Concord, New Hampshire, and Rochester, New York, set record warm Mays. Syracuse just missed out on that lofty pedestal marking their third warmest May.

RTFA for lots more.

It continues, of course. Folks don’t realize that extremes are an expected result of climate change. Even if the defining characteristic is global warming, temperature and humidity changes produce individual weather extremes below as well as above recorded normals. The difference between trends and events.

Our pollution reached Antarctica before the great explorers


Lead pollution from Oz got there first

Lead pollution from Australia reached Antarctica in 1889 – long before the frozen continent’s golden age of exploration – and has remained there ever since, new research shows.

In our study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, my colleagues and I used ice core samples from West and East Antarctica to reveal the continent’s long and persistent history of heavy metal pollution.

The Antarctic remains the most remote and pristine place on Earth. Yet despite its isolation, our findings show that it has not escaped contamination from traces of industrial lead, a serious pollutant and neurotoxin. The levels of lead pollution found in the ice cores is too low to impact Antarctic ecosystems, but higher levels would be expected closer to sources…

The new study, led by Dr Joe McConnell of the Desert Research Institute in Nevada, used an array of Antarctic ice cores to reveal a detailed record of where and when pollution can be found.

The first trace of lead pollution arrived in Antarctica around 1889, 22 years before the Amundsen and Scott expeditions to the South Pole.

We also discovered that lead pollution in the Antarctic peaked twice, and that in both cases Australia was the primary source.

After an initial peak in the late 1920s, lead levels dropped in sync with the Great Depression and Second World War. The pollution peaked again in about 1975.

Today, although levels are lower than at the 1975 peak, they remain at roughly three times the pre-industrial level…

More analysis will help us unlock more of Antarctica’s secrets. If you’ll excuse the pun, our latest results are just the tip of the iceberg with regard to information stored in the Antarctic ice sheet.

For example, fires in the Southern Hemisphere have left traces in the ice and a history of climate. The history of persistent organic pollutants and mercury in the remote south are still poorly known. Colleagues at CSIRO and the Australian Nuclear Science Technology Organisation are using ice cores to understand the past variability of greenhouse gases and the Sun. Combined with records from tree rings, sediments and caves, ice cores help to recreate a large-scale reconstruction of past sea level pressure.

Meanwhile, Antarctica continues to serve as a sentinel for unintended consequences of human activities – in this case, the pollution of a pristine frozen wasteland by an Australian mining product.

Today’s abusers of the word “conservative” will continue on their plastic primrose path to the destruction of Earth’s biosphere given any opportunity at all. Unlike their predecessors – for whom conservative also meant conservator of the Earth – prattle about denial is all they have to offer their children and grandchildren when they grow old enough to accuse them of rejecting human responsibility for polluting limited resources. Including the transformation of our climate at a radical pace.

When science points out the corruption of our planet, the response of these cowards is simply to deny science.

Big Storms continue their march toward Earth’s poles

Mid-latitude storm tracks are major weather patterns that account for the majority of precipitation in the globe’s middle latitudes, which includes most of the heavily populated areas of North America, Eurasia, and Australia. Due to atmospheric circulation and the dynamics of weather systems, these bands of low pressure form repeatedly in the same locations. Apart from being meteorologically important, they’re also major players on the climate scene -— clouds in these regions are responsible for reflecting much of the incoming solar radiation that is bounced back to space before penetrating Earth’s atmosphere.

Many climate models have predicted that the positions of these storm tracks would slowly migrate toward the poles, but so far this trend had not been detected. However, analysis of 25 years worth of data from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project now indicates that this shift is probably already taking place.

The International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (or ISCCP) operates a network of geostationary and polar orbiting satellites that have been collecting data on clouds since 1983. A team of researchers carefully analyzed data for Northern and Southern Hemisphere storm tracks in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to look for trends in storm track positions. (The Indian Ocean could not be included because of issues with satellite coverage.) The results indicated a slight poleward shift of the storm tracks…

That’s mainly interesting because it had been predicted by many climate models. But the data also shows something that may be much more important, though there are some considerable uncertainties involved. The satellite observations also show a roughly two-to-three percent reduction in total cloud cover since 1983. This occurred through a large decrease in low-level cloudiness, and it came despite a slight increase in high-level cloudiness.

Both of these changes act as positive feedbacks to warming

Although the same models that predict the poleward movement of storm tracks also predict reductions in total cloud cover, the paper is heavy on caveats here. The most interesting data comes at the limits of detection for these satellites, making it unclear how robust the signal is. Like the storm track positions, the trend is consistent among the regions studied, though.

Increasing the accuracy, increasing accumulation of these kind of data is something only satellites can provide. Naturally, your friendly neighborhood politician probably considers this a low priority in his fundraising life.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Snowmass fossil site discovery in Colorado


Mammoth fossils turned up by earthmover

An Ice Age fossil site recently discovered in Snowmass Village, Colorado, is providing a trio of U.S. Geological Survey scientists with a laboratory to study more than 100,000 years of vegetation and climate records in Colorado.

The USGS team is studying about 22 feet of fossil-bearing sediments from the…excavation, which appear to encompass more than 100,000 years of prehistoric time…

“A vegetation and climate record that covers this much time at such a high altitude—about 8800 feet—is unprecedented in Colorado to our knowledge,” said Jeff Pigati, a USGS geologist on the team.

Sediments that contain the fossils appear to have been deposited in a small lake or marsh that formed when a stream was dammed by a glacial moraine, or accumulation of glacier debris, at least 130,000 years ago…

The Ziegler Reservoir megafauna site was discovered while crews were enlarging the reservoir, which provides water to Snowmass Village and, to some extent, the nearby ski area for making snow…

Thanks to a bulldozer operator who knew enough to apply the brakes, notify folks what he’d unearthed.

NOAA: Global record for warmest June

Last month was the warmest June on record worldwide, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Warmer-than-average conditions were present across nearly all continents, including much of the United States, according to the organization’s State of the Climate report…

Although global sea surface temperatures ranked the fourth-warmest on record, the combination of land and sea anomalies pushed June 2010 past June 2005, previously the warmest June on record, the report said. June was also the fourth consecutive month in a row of record warmth worldwide…

June also marked a record low in Arctic sea ice — the 19th June in a row the sea ice has been below average.

“This is important, because sea ice reflects incoming solar radiation back to space,” said CNN Meteorologist Taylor Ward. “Without the normal extent of sea ice in the Arctic, we can expect more radiation to be absorbed into the ocean, leading to more melting. It’s what we call a ‘positive feedback.'” The amount of sea ice in the Arctic has been steadily declining since 1990.

Warmer-than-average temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, also known as El Nino, have been contributing to the warmth. La Nina conditions — cooler-than-average temperatures in the same region — are beginning to set in, which could prevent more monthly records from being set. However, La Nina combined with record-setting warm Atlantic sea surface temperatures is expected to fuel an active Atlantic hurricane season.

The announcement of June’s record-setting warmth comes during a period of extreme heat in the United States and Europe. Excessive heat warnings have been topping weather headlines in the United States for more than two weeks now, and Europe has been shattering temperature records as well, with a heat wave through the first half of July. Eastern Europe has seen the most significant temperatures, although much of the continent has experienced above-average heat.

Just in case you didn’t notice.