Annals of global warming: Arizona wildfires 2013 and “the new normal”

July 6, 2013

A burned home is seen in an unidentified neighborhood west of Highway 89 in Yarnell, Arizona July 3, 2013. Reuters

A burned home is seen in an unidentified neighborhood west of Highway 89 in Yarnell, Arizona July 3, 2013. Reuters, via International Business Times

From a much longer story you should read by Felicity Barringer and Kenneth Chang  in The New York Times, Tuesday, July 2, 2013, page A13 of the National Edition:

Since 1970, Arizona has warmed at a rate 0.72 degrees per decade, the fastest among the 50 states, based on an analysis of temperature data by Climate Central, an independent organization that researches and reports on climate. Even as the temperatures have leveled off in many places around the world in the past decade, the Southwest has continued to get hotter.

“The decade of 2001 to 2010 in Arizona was the hottest in both spring and the summer,” said Gregg Garfin, a professor of climate, natural resources and policy at the University of Arizona and the executive editor of a study examining the impact of climate change on the Southwest.

Warmer winters mean less snowfall. More of the winter precipitation falls as rain, which quickly flows away in streams instead of seeping deep underground.

The soils then dry out earlier and more quickly in May and June. “It’s the most arid time of year,” Dr. Garfin said. “It’s windy as well.”

The growing season also starts earlier, so there is more to burn.

“The fire season has lengthened substantially, by two months, over the last 30 years,” said Craig D. Allen, a research ecologist at the United States Geological Survey station at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.

The fire potential is exacerbated by the past policy, beginning around 1900, of putting out all fires. Fires are a natural way of clearing out the underbrush. With that natural rhythm disrupted, the flammable material piled up, so when it did catch fire, it ignited a giant fire that burned hotter and wider.

This total-suppression policy began to ease as early as the 1950s, when scientists began to see fire’s role in ecosystems. It was completely abandoned nearly two decades ago.

But in the 1970s, the Southwest entered a wet period, part of a climate cycle that repeats every 20 to 30 years. “That wet period helped keep a lid on fires,” Dr. Allen said. “And it also allowed the forests to fluff up.”

Since 1996, the climate pattern, known as the Pacific decadal oscillation, has swung to the dry end of the spectrum, and the region is caught in a long-term drought.

Stephen J. Pyne, one of the nation’s leading fire historians and a professor at Arizona State University, said, “How we live on the land, what we decide we put on public and private lands, how we do things and don’t do things on the land, changes its combustibility.”

In many landscapes, he added, “you’ve enhanced the natural combustibility” by building hundreds of thousands of homes in fire-prone areas, and for years suppressing natural fires, allowing a buildup of combustible materials like the “slash” debris left behind by logging.

The article explains how this is the dry phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation; so we can hope the wet phase will be wet enough to suppress fires.  However, the simple fact of additional effects brought on by PDO does not mean warming goes away when the PDO switches phases.  Note especially the lengthening fire season over three decades; incrementally, warming is making these well-known cycles, warmer, and too often, destructive or more destructive.

More: 

Sign welcoming visitors to Yarnell, Arizona:

Sign welcoming visitors to Yarnell, Arizona, with wildfire in the background: “Elevation 4,850 ft., ‘Where the desert breeze meets the mountain air.'” Sedonaeye.com image

 

English: Monthly values for the Pacific decada...

Monthly values for the Pacific decadal oscillation index, 1900 – 2010 Black line:121-month smooth Data source: http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/PDO.latest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


How about another cup of coffee? (Global Warming Conspiracy and Starbucks Cup #289)

June 19, 2013

Encore post from September 17, 2007, and August 2009 — maybe more appropriate today than ever before.

Found this on my coffee cup today (links added here):

The Way I See It #289

So-called “global warming” is just

a secret ploy by wacko tree-

huggers to make America energy

independent, clean our air and

water, improve the fuel efficiency

of our vehicles, kick-start

21st-century industries, and make

our cities safer and more livable.

Don’t let them get away with it!

Chip Giller
Founder of Grist.org, where
environmentally-minded people
gather online.

Starbucks Coffee Cup, The Way I See It #289 (global warming)

Look! Someone found the same cup I found!

I miss those old Starbucks cups — but then, they killed the Starbucks in our town.  I don’t buy the 100 cups of Starbucks coffee I used to get in a year.

More:


SkepticGate II: Fizzled assault on science

December 19, 2011

Skepticgate cartoon from the Houston Chronicle, 2009

This Anderson cartoon from the Houston Chronicle in 2009 gets the facts right, but sadly, is still accurate

Remember the pathetic, disgusting attempt to derail the climate talks in Durban, just a few days ago?  The “climate skeptics”™ dumped a bunch more private e-mails from the scientists who work on climate. (Stolen e-mails, here; be prepared to be bored, with no smoking guns, no cold guns, no guns at all.)

Unless one thinks the self-proclaimed skeptics are James Bond nemesis enough to actually hope for the end of the world (as opposed to just being monumentally, stupidly misled), their train still can’t get back on the tracks.  Revealing that someone among them has stolen more e-mails than previously known, didn’t help.  Here is a list of just how bad the derailment has been for the denialists:

  1. No great world-changing agreement, but the climate talks in Durban, South Africa, produced a consensus that a massive treaty is not coming soon, and that action to save the planet can’t wait for guys in suits who defer by people like Ralph Hall to do the right thing.  Generally, the comity at Durban is bad for the denialists — Christopher Monckton went into full panic mode, suggesting the language of the agreement available isn’t the whole story and something else — something sinister — is really going on.  (One wonders how Monckton can stand to turn out the lights at night.)  They can’t tell the difference between their burro and a burrow, and with Ralph Hall leading them they’re likely to find the edge of the cliff and leave it before they realize just how far up they are and how far they have to fall.  (Skeptic/denialist Judith Curry carried a rundown of headlines from Durban, with links — remember her bias.)
  2. British authorities raided the digs of a skeptic blogger, seizing his computer upon which he got the first round of stolen e-mails.  It’s unlikely the raidee is guilty of much beyond making the stolen stuff public (is that a crime in Britain?), but one hopes Britain’s crime fighters have access to cyber trackers who may be able to learn more from the signatures on the posts.  Searches have been noticed for other bloggers, including Jeff Id at the Air Vent, but warrants and actual searches haven’t taken place yet.
  3. One paper in climate science was officially retracted — alas for the denialists, it was one of theirs.  Plagiarism and rank error in the so-called Wegman Report to a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives prompted the call-back.  John Mashey’s gumshoe work in the libraries of academe lent a new shine to the word “scholarship.”  Republicans have yet to admit the paper’s errors.  (
  4. Texas Congressman Ralph Hall granted a rare interview, and spoke out about climate change.  He revealed that he doesn’t know much about one of the hottest issues facing the committee he chairs, and what little he knows, is wrong.  Cue the Kin Hubbard/Mick Jagger duet.
  5. Skeptics actually completed a research project and prepared it for publication.  A group at Berkeley, with funding from conservative warming denialists like the Koch brothers, and featuring the work and cooperation of leading anti-science people like Anthony Watts, took on the challenge of looking at temperatures reported from weather stations, especially in the U.S., and especially those Anthony Watts had targeted as providing unduly warm and inaccurate readings that skewed all of the science of global warming.  The not-loudly-mentioned target, of course, was the “hockey stick” graph.  Alas for the skeptics, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study produced results that verify the accuracy of measurements that show warming, and which suggest the IPCC-published hockey stick is accurate enough that it deserves credence.  Anthony Watts promptly disavowed all his own work on the project.
  6. Meanwhile, warming continued unabated by almost every measure.  Galileo could say:  Eppure, lei si scalda!

One question we need to be asking is why the incidents around the stolen e-mails are known as “Climategate” in the circles of warming denialists.  The thieves in this case came from the ranks of the so-called skeptics, and the release of the e-mails was done on the blogs of those who deny warming, or human causation, or human ability to mitigate at all.  (Fox News got it bass ackwards, of course — wondering whether the government is somehow complicit in hiding information, while all the information is public and almost all of the private communication is public.  At Fox, they don’t even get Homer Simpson doh! moments of understanding — that’s how bad it is in Denialville.)

Not climategate, but skepticgate -- follow the money cartoon

So far no one's listening to the bear on this one -- follow the money, and bring the criminals to justice.

It’s really SkepticGate, with a more-than two-year coverup and continuing, and the recent release is SkepticGate II.

Denialists, and even those who question global warming on legitimate grounds, must be frustrated.  Nothing they do stops the world from warming.  As the massive wave of evidence demonstrating the Earth warms and humans share the blame turns to a tsunami, even policy makers (Ralph Hall excepted) look for solutions to warming problems.  It’s so bad for the skeptics that even the old trick of stealing e-mails from the scientists, the trick that helped fog up the Copenhagen proceedings, did almost nothing to the Durban talks.  While no treaty came out, none was expected — but the sudden action in the last couple of days of the conference to get action despite the continued interference by climate skeptics  and their political allies, must have caught them off guard.

Now the cops are after them, too.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Cool KWAANZA, Ebullient Edwin Hubble Looking Up Day, Happy New Year!


Annals of global warming: Deja vu all over again (Tom Toles cartoon from 2004)

October 28, 2011

Events of the past two weeks, in the community of scientists and cargo scientists who fail to recognize global warming, sadly, were portrayed in this cartoon by Tom Toles. Whiplash realization moment: Toles’s cartoon is from 2004. (Yes, this is an encore post.)

Tom Toles cartoon on global warming inaction, from 2004

A Tom Toles cartoon from 2004

Insert a definition of “filibuster” here.

Then pray for action.

Then call your congressman, and him/her to act, now.

_____________

Note on Tom Toles from the Department of Earth Sciences, G-107 Environmental Geology, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI): “A political cartoon from the Washington Post on climate change. Tom Toles, a political cartoonist, often pens cartoons on environmental issues. His cartoons are often reprinted in other newspapers (Washington Post/Universal Press Syndicate).”


Annals of Global Warming: Arctic ice at second lowest level ever measured

October 12, 2011

Two years ago warming denialists claimed the Earth is actually cooling, and they predicted dramatic cooling by late 2010.

Instead, warming continues, overcoming the temporary mediation caused by increased particulate and sulfate emissions from coal burned in uncontrolled fashion in China, as evidence by things like the continued shrinking of Arctic ice below 20th century averages.  See this press release from NASA:

RELEASE : 11-337 – October 4, 2011

 Arctic Sea Ice Continues Decline, Hits Second-Lowest Level

WASHINGTON — Last month the extent of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean declined to the second-lowest extent on record. Satellite data from NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado in Boulder showed that the summertime sea ice cover narrowly avoided a new record low.

The Arctic ice cap grows each winter as the sun sets for several months and shrinks each summer as the sun rises higher in the northern sky. Each year the Arctic sea ice reaches its annual minimum extent in September. It hit a record low in 2007.

The near-record ice-melt followed higher-than-average summer temperatures, but without the unusual weather conditions that contributed to the extreme melt of 2007. “Atmospheric and oceanic conditions were not as conducive to ice loss this year, but the melt still neared 2007 levels,” said NSIDC scientist Walt Meier. “This probably reflects loss of multiyear ice in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas as well as other factors that are making the ice more vulnerable.”

Joey Comiso, senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said the continued low minimum sea ice levels fits into the large-scale decline pattern that scientists have watched unfold over the past three decades.

“The sea ice is not only declining, the pace of the decline is becoming more drastic,” Comiso said. “The older, thicker ice is declining faster than the rest, making for a more vulnerable perennial ice cover.”

While the sea ice extent did not dip below the 2007 record, the sea ice area as measured by the microwave radiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite did drop slightly lower than 2007 levels for about 10 days in early September, Comiso said. Sea ice “area” differs from extent in that it equals the actual surface area covered by ice, while extent includes any area where ice covers at least 15 percent of the ocean.

Arctic sea ice extent on Sept. 9, the lowest point this year, was 4.33 million square kilometers (1.67 million square miles). Averaged over the month of September, ice extent was 4.61 million square kilometers (1.78 million square miles). This places 2011 as the second lowest ice extent both for the daily minimum extent and the monthly average. Ice extent was 2.43 million square kilometers (938,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average.

This summer’s low ice extent continued the downward trend seen over the last 30 years, which scientists attribute largely to warming temperatures caused by climate change. Data show that Arctic sea ice has been declining both in extent and thickness. Since 1979, September Arctic sea ice extent has declined by 12 percent per decade.

“The oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic continues to decline, especially in the Beaufort Sea and the Canada Basin,” NSIDC scientist Julienne Stroeve said. “This appears to be an important driver for the low sea ice conditions over the past few summers.”

Climate models have suggested that the Arctic could lose almost all of its summer ice cover by 2100, but in recent years, ice extent has declined faster than the models predicted.

NASA monitors and studies changing sea ice conditions in both the Arctic and Antarctic with a variety of spaceborne and airborne research capabilities. This month NASA resumes Operation IceBridge, a multi-year series of flights over sea ice and ice sheets at both poles. This fall’s campaign will be based out of Punta Arenas, Chile, and make flights over Antarctica.  NASA also continues work toward launching ICESat-2 in 2016, which will continue its predecessor’s crucial laser altimetry observations of ice cover from space.

To see a NASA data visualization of the 2011 Arctic sea ice minimum as measured by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer – Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) on Aqua, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2011-ice-min.html  [I have changed the link to one that works for me.]

Here is that visualization, presented by Cryosphere Program Manager, Tom Wagner:

On Sept. 9th, 2011, Arctic sea ice most likely hit its minimum extent for the year. On Sept. 20th, NASA’s Cryosphere Program Manager, Tom Wagner, shared his perspectives on the ice with television audiences across the country.

On the top of the world, a pulsing, shifting body of ice has profound effects on the weather and climate of the rest of the planet. Every winter as temperatures dip, sea ice freezes out of cold Arctic Ocean waters, and every summer the extent of that ice shrinks as warm ocean temperatures eat it away. Ice cover throughout the year can affect polar ecosystems, world-wide ocean currents, and even the heat budget of the Earth.

During the last 30 years we’ve been monitoring the ice with satellites, there has been a consistent downward trend, with less and less ice making it through the summer. The thickness of that ice has also diminished. In 2011 Arctic sea ice extent was its second smallest on record, opening up the fabled Northwest Passages and setting the stage for more years like this in the future. In this video, NASA’s Cryosphere Program Manager, Tom Wagner, shares his perspectives on the 2011 sea ice minimum.

More data and animation versions here, at Goddard Multimedia.

 


Republican bid to turn out the lights failed

July 12, 2011

Dan Weiss reports at Climate Progress that the attempt to kill energy conservation standards failed tonight.  It required a two-thirds vote from the House to suspend the rules to consider it (the bill did not go through normal legislative channels) — the bill failed.

You may want to read Steve Lacey’s earlier explanation of the bill there, too.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Tony Sidaway and his tweets.


Marxism from Republicans? Sad, but true . . .

July 12, 2011

. . .  Groucho Marxism.

(From Horsefeathers; longer version of entire scene, here.)

The U.S. House of Representatives scheduled a vote today to force light bulb manufacturers to keep manufacturing bulbs the market has rejected — Marxist socialism at its apex! — in order to overturn energy conservation standards signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007.

ThinkProgress explains:

Lately it seems that the House Republican leadership is against everything that isn’t pre-approved by Big Oil or the Tea Party. Perhaps the most outlandish example of this Groucho Marx approach to public policy is today’s vote on the BULB Act, H.R. 2417. It would repeal the energy efficiency standards for light bulbs established in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, or EISA, P.L. 110-140. It would also prevent California from setting its own light bulb efficiency standards. The original author of the provision is House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI), who is now supporting the repeal of his own idea after conservatives attacked it along with other clean energy programs.

EISA, with Rep. Upton’s efficiency measure, passed the House in 2007 by a bipartisan vote of 319-100, with support from 49.7 percent of Republicans who voted and 98 percent of Democratic votes. President George W. Bush signed it into law.

Afterwards, Rep. Upton bragged in a press release, “Upton Measure to Upgrade Energy Efficiency Standards for all Light Bulbs Now Law” . . .

Mark Twain observed that it takes just one man of conscience to stand up to a mob and frustrate stupid mob action.  Fred Upton is not that man of conscience, alas.

Meanwhile, PopVox has a poll on the bill.  Go on over there and vote “no,” meaning you wish to keep the conservation standards.

Tip of the old scrub brush to ThinkProgress via Jennsmom.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,420 other followers

%d bloggers like this: