Thursday, August 12, 2010

Climate Change Results in Higher Frequency of Severe Local Weather Events

Tags: Climate Change, Journalism Better, CJR, Explanations Still too Complex for Most, Most Weather Comes from Equatorial and Pole Oceans and Winds

With all the reporting on climate change, I have not yet seen widespread simple explanations for why a warmer “average” earth temperature matters when its changes are very small compared to the day-to-day change in temperature seen in local weather reports.

The real problem is not the average temperature, but the temperature of the water and air at the poles and equatorial countries which drive most of our weather patterns. Land temperature affects the weather too on a more local level, but I am not completely sure, because it is rarely discussed.

Overall Climate change is most actuated by movements of both ocean currents and high altitude winds. All the oil company driven explanations why Climate Change is not happening have been discounted. Some scientists are honest and some are not. Our brain emphasizes what we want to believe and forgets contradictory information.

Because Oregon is a tough state to predict weather patterns and temperatures, the television meteorologists I watch on ABC are quite competent, an element not seen in most weather forecasters who have a journalists dumbed down degree with most of the really good ones working for the government or academics where high mathematical skills are necessary.

What happens when they get warmer or colder? Why are dry and hot areas less likely to get rain or snow? Why so much bad weather occurs in the Midwest and the South and now the Northeast Coast? Why is California and the Southwest and Southeast in such a long-term drought?

I highly recommend the unbiased analysis of the news by the Columbia Journalism Review in many areas. They normally don't bother covering Right Wing radical publications or television, but print articles which can be the best place to go for news. If you read long enough, you will see that all that is printed is far from the best interpretation of the facts as we see daily in political debates.

I am still waiting for thinking journalists who ignore the 15,000 tweets or e-mails they get daily. I really like the T-Mobile ad about kids texting so much that it fills the school bus if they are printed out. Not many know that texting can take up to 13 hours a day for many teenagers!

Adobe Flash Drives deposits cookies which allows corporations to monitor which website we visit. We see every day the never-ending drive to increase profits leading more idealistic CEOs such as the one for Google make a deal with monster ethics Verizon to make a two-tier or more Internet to use their huge storage of information about everyone of us. Those who pay more may cause your web access to certain websites slow to a crawl. Don't let them do this to us. Give us more speed. Comcast limits movie playing to just barely high enough so they can't be downloaded during heavy traffic times.

Jim Kawakami, August 12, 2010,

Best Media Coverage of Explanation for Current Heat, Floods, Droughts, Higher Food Prices, Greenland Icebergs Breaking Off Faster, More Fires, and Floods Columbia Journalism Review CJR The Observatory August 12, 2010, by Curtis Brainard

More and more, reporters have been asking whether or not climate change could be responsible for this summer’s extreme weather. Thankfully, most have resisted the temptation to pin the events directly to global warming, placing them in proper climatic context instead.

For the last week, news outlets around the world have churned out stories about record-setting temperatures and blazing infernos around Moscow as well as flooding in Pakistan that the United Nations called the worst humanitarian crisis in recent history. To a lesser extent, there have also been plenty of reports about rain-induced landslides in China, severe droughts in sub-Saharan Africa, and the calving of an enormous iceberg from the Greenland ice sheet.

“The occurrence of all these events at almost the same time raises questions about their possible linkages to the predicted increase in intensity and frequency of extreme events” laid out in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2007 assessment report, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported Wednesday.

Indeed, before the WMO even made that observation, reporters were seeking out scientific sources that could provide answers. Articles and blog posts from Reuters, The Washington Post, Agence France-Presse, the Telegraph, BBC News, the Associated Press, New Scientist, and The Economist have all come to the same basic conclusion: While no single weather event can be attributed to climate change, more extreme weather events can be expected in a warmer world, and the ones we’ve seen this summer fit the IPCC’s predictions.

The contributions from New Scientist and The Economist are among the best of the bunch. Unlike some of the others, which explore the indeterminate climate connection but leave it that, they both explain (quoting from the latter) that “The immediate cause of the [the Russian heat wave and Pakistani flood, which appear to be linked] is the behavior of the jet stream, a band of high-level wind that travels east around the world and influences much of the weather below it.”

Basically, the jet stream’s current pattern has become “blocked,” as meteorologists put it, by north-south airflows high in the atmosphere. As a result, a high-pressure “ridge” has become locked in place over western Russia (with cooler than average temperatures to the east). The ridge intensifies the hot and dry conditions on the ground, which, in turn, intensify the ridge in a positive feedback loop. Meteorologists Jeff Masters and Rob Carver offered technical but useful explanations of the situation at Weather Underground, and an explanation of blocking is available at the National Weather Service’s Web site. …

Best Explanation for Current Local Weather Extremes New Scientist Michael Marshall and Jessica Hamzelou August 12, 2010

Russia has sweltered under an intense heatwave since mid-July, recording its highest ever temperatures. The heat has caused widespread drought, ruined crops and encouraged wildfires that have blanketed Moscow in smog and now threaten key nuclear sites. According to the head of Moscow's health department, the city's daily death rate has doubled – up to 700 from the usual average of 360 to 380.

What caused the heatwave?

The primary cause was a "blocking event" – a static atmospheric pattern that has trapped a high-pressure bubble over western Russia since mid-July, pulling in hot air from Africa.

Blocking events naturally occur from time to time. There is evidence that low solar activity increases their numbers , and the sun is currently in a period of minimum activitypastedGraphic.pdf.

Jeff Knight of the UK Met Office says that the climatic pattern known as El Niño was also a factor. Around the new year, the eastern tropical Pacific heated up, sending a slow-moving wave of heat around the globe – conditions that are characteristic of El Niño. "It warms the global mean temperature with a delay of about six months," says Knight. This extra packet of heat will have increased the likelihood of heatwaves around the world.

Is climate change to blame?

Computer models of climate are not detailed enough at present to reproduce blocking events, making it impossible to say whether rising greenhouse gas concentrations makes them more likely to happen.

However, whatever the mechanism, there is a large body of evidence to suggest that climate change increases the number of heatwaves and make them longer. Since 1880 the frequency of extremely hot days has nearly tripled and the length of heatwaves across Europe has doubled. Models also predict that climate change will push up peak temperatures faster than average temperatures.

This is an example of climate change's tendency to increase the likelihood of extreme weather events. The number of very hot days is forecast to increase fivefold by 2100. One model study has suggested that Paris, France, will see the frequency of heatwaves grow by 31 per cent over the century, and that by 2100 they will last twice as long.

The consequences will be widespread. Agricultural yields are likely to drop, and summer death rates will rise worldwide. True, winter death rates will drop during milder winters, but this will not offset the extra summer deaths.

However, it is important to bear in mind that no single weather event can be reliably linked to climate change. "It's a statistical tendency, a push in one direction," says Joanna Haigh of Imperial College London. The Russian heatwave might have occurred anyway, without help from greenhouse gases. All we can say for sure is that such events are more likely in a warmer world. … (The really good articles are blocked for non-subscribers. Expensive subscription which I stopped several years ago. Jim)

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