Storms and Global Warming

Midwest Storms and Flooding

NASA Image

Though you will see very little about this on major news media, the Midwest cyclone of three weeks ago set records and is still causing problems for many people. More than 500,000 domestic livestock and unknown numbers of wild animals have drowned.  “Across the nation 34 river gauges are in major flood stage, 55 in moderate and many of those are in the Midwest. With 2 feet of snow (water equivalent of 2 to 4 inches) possible mid to late week – and rapid spring melt starting late weekend – concerns for river more flooding. pic.twitter.com/JJoioSLTU0 “— Jeff Berardelli (@WeatherProf) April 8, 2019

Climate Disaster Will Continue for More Than 100 Years

This spring’s record-setting storms are just the beginning. In fact, they will seem quite feeble compared to what’s coming. Of course, no one is surprised since scientists have warned us for years that this would happen (https://garryrogers.com/2019/02/01/fast-climate-change, and http://www.scientistswarning.org). We should get a break next year as El Niño fades, but the year after could be the worst yet. And the year after could be the worst and the year after that could be the worst . . . .

Planners must prepare for the likelihood that disasters will continue for at least the next 200 years. If we cut GHG emissions to zero within 10 to 12 years, Earth’s climate systems could stabilize by then. If we continue burning fossil fuels, stabilization will take longer.

Like the March “bomb cyclone,” it might set some records.

Intense storms may diminish protective ozone in Central US

GR: This is something we will have to watch. As the planet warms, evaporation increases. If the moisture reaches the upper levels of our atmosphere, it can lead to ozone depletion. In the ongoing study described below, the researchers found that storms are reaching higher than previously thought. A study of the degree to which this may be damaging the protective ozone layer is underway.

“More frequent, powerful storms in the Great Plains are penetrating deep into the atmosphere, risking ozone loss and increased dangerous UV radiation, scientists warn.

“The ozone layer in our atmosphere keeps much of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation from hitting the surface. Too much of it gives people skin cancer and can destroy plants and crops.

“Harvard researchers found that this stratospheric ozone layer above the central U.S. gets depleted during the summer, most likely as intense storms send water vapor into the atmosphere. The vapor can cause the types of chemical reactions that have spurred ozone loss in Arctic and Antarctic regions.

“The stratosphere, which extends from about 7 miles above the surface to nearly 30 miles above the ground, is one of the most “delicate aspects of habitability on the planet,” the researchers wrote in the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

“The Great Plains’ more frequent and violent storms get that extra energy in large part from warming waters in the Gulf of Mexico. The Harvard study shows that, in addition to storm damage, the loss of ozone threatens food security and human health.

“Humans are sensitive to even small changes in UV radiation, as are our staple crops. That’s the center of our concern right now,” said lead author of the study, Jim Anderson, a professor and researcher at Harvard University.

“Anderson and colleagues were studying summer storms over the Central U.S. and found that many were penetrating deep into the stratosphere. It was assumed that most storms only reached the top of the troposphere.

“The depth of penetration was much larger than previously thought, some 4,000 storms penetrate the stratosphere,” Anderson said.

“The findings represent an important change in assessing the risk from UV radiation in the summer, said Mario Molina, a professor and chemistry researcher at the University of California San Diego, who was not involved in the study. Previous studies have shown a 1 percent decrease in stratospheric ozone would mean about 3 percent more skin cancer cases.

“The link between bigger storms and depleted ozone above the Central U.S. comes mostly from inference: While temperature and water vapor changes from storms have been shown to deplete ozone in Arctic regions, it’s not clear yet if this is the case in the states studied—Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, the Dakotas.

“However, “chemistry operates the same everywhere,” Anderson said.” –Brian Bienkowski (Intense storms may diminish protective ozone in Central US. — The Daily Climate).

Signals of Climate Change Visible as Record Fires Give Way to Massive Floods in Peru

GR:  Peru is suffering through a series of global warming weather extremes. It would be interesting to get Humboldt’s response to what is happening now, 215 years after he visited Peru.

“We’ve rarely seen this kind of rapid and quick change in climatic conditions.” — Juber Ruiz, Peru’s Civil Defense Institute

“During September through November, wildfires tore across parts of drought-stricken Peru.

“Peru’s Amazon was then experiencing its worst dry period in 20 years. And, at the time, over 100,000 acres of rainforest and farmland was consumed by flash fires. Rainforest species, ill-adapted to fires, were caught unawares. And a tragic tale of charred remains of protected species littering a once-lush, but now smoldering, wood spread in the wake of the odd blazes.

(Last November, wildfires burned through the Amazon rainforest in Peru as a record drought left the region bone-dry. From Drought Now Spans the Globe. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

“At the time, scientists noted that the after-effects of El Nino had combined with a warmer world to help spur the drought and the fires. And they warned Peru to prepare for more extreme weather in the future as Earth continued to heat up.

“Fast forward to 2017 and we find that the moisture regime has taken a hard turn in Peru as the droughts and fires of 2016 gave way to torrential rains. Since January, more than 62 souls have been lost and about 12,000 homes destroyed as flash floods ripped through Peru. Over the past three days, the rains have been particularly intense — turning streets into roaring rivers and causing streams to over-top — devouring roads, bridges and buildings. As of yesterday, 176 districts within the country have declared a state of emergency due to flooding.” –Robert Scribbler (Continue reading:  Signals of Climate Change Visible as Record Fires Give Way to Massive Floods in Peru | robertscribbler.)

(Flooding in Peru leaves tens of thousands homeless. Video source: TRT News.)

Warning From Scientists — Halt Fossil Fuel Burning Fast or Age of Superstorms, 3-20 Foot Sea Level Rise is Coming Soon

According to this review of the latest climate model simulations, there is an immediate need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Otherwise, rising sea level, massive storms, and permanent winter in Great Britain are only a few of the changes we can expect. Recommended reading.

robertscribbler

First the good news. James Hansen, one of the world’s most recognized climate scientists, along with 13 of his well-decorated fellows believe that there’s a way out of this hothouse mess we’re brewing for ourselves. It’s a point that’s often missed in media reports on their most recent paper — Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise, and Superstorms. A paper that focuses on just two of the very serious troubles we’ll be visiting on ourselves in short order if we don’t heed their advice.

The way out? Reduce global carbon emissions by 6% each year and manage the biosphere such that it draws carbon down to 350 ppm levels or below through the early 22nd Century. To Hansen and colleagues this involves a scaling carbon fee and dividend or a similarly ramping carbon tax to rapidly dis-incentivize carbon use on a global scale. Do that and we might be relatively…

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