A new special issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society investigates the climate change connections of a wide variety of extreme weather events. The report finds that climate change worsened many heat waves, including events in Australia, China, Korea, and Japan. Climate change is also implicated in worsening several droughts, including Europe’s hot dry summer and New Zealand’s 2013 drought.
These connections underscore a larger shift in climate science. Scientists once hesitated to connect present-day extreme weather events to climate change, instead focusing on future projections. But we now know that climate change is already worsening many extreme events, with both economic and human consequences. The authors of the report further emphasize that even for events where no climate link is documented right now, they cannot rule out a connection and that a link still might emerge with additional data.
Several studies focus on the California drought, with one study finding that climate change has increased the likelihood of high-pressure “ridges” like the one that has been blocking precipitation from reaching the state. Two other studies offered mixed results after investigating a different and limited set of factors. This complex picture led some outlets to summarize the climate connection for the drought as a whole as “uncertain,” but it would be more accurate to say that some contributing factors to the CA drought have been linked to climate change while others remain uncertain. It should also be noted that none of the studies in the report took California’s high temperatures into account, a fact that some media coverage has called out. California is on track for its warmest year ever, and warmer temperatures intensify droughts by increasing water evaporation.
On precipitation, the special issue found that that climate change has increased extreme precipitation across the U.S., as well as worsening extreme rain and flooding in India. This echoes the conclusion of many outside sources including the most recent IPCC report. A separate study suggested that climate change did not worsen extreme rain in Colorado, but this might be a rare outlier: the study’s lead author has said that Colorado is “one of the few areas in the world where that seems to be the case.” He further cautioned that the Colorado study “raises a lot of questions” and is not the final word.
While much of the Austin and Central Texas area has received much more rain than normal in September, the same can’t be said for North Texas. The DFW area is about to officially have experienced the driest September on record.
Driest September on Record for Dallas/Fort Worth?
Without additional rainfall at DFW Airport before the end of the month,
this will be the driest September on record for Dallas/Fort Worth.
This is likely to be the 4th calendar month this year with less than an inch of rain.
For the year to date, 2014 is among the driest years on record.
DFW is on track for a record dry September. So far this month they have had only 0.06 inches of rain. The record driest September is 0.09 set in 1984. In contrast, the wettest September for the official Dallas-Fort Worth site was back in 1932 when 10.80 inches fell. The average September rainfall is 2.55 inches.
Sorry Ashton fans, we’re not talking about the movie. Rather, an event that had NWS members scratching their heads. Meteorological minds were bending to figure out what could possibly be the cause of a blue “blob” that was showing up on their St. Louis radar. Eventually, they figured it out. The came to the conclusion that it wasn’t rain, snow, sleet, or hail. Here’s the article explaining their theory of the mysterious blue blob from USA Today.
A swarm of butterflies, winging its way south for the winter, was “spotted” as large blue blobs on weather radar last week over southern Illinois and central Missouri.
“We think these targets are Monarch butterflies,” the National Weather Service in St. Louis noted on its Facebook page, which also includes a technical explanation of how the weather service came to this conclusion.
The monarchs were flapping their way south toward their winter home in Mexico. As noted earlier this year, the colorful insects were under stress this spring because of ongoing drought, an unusually cold winter and a lack of milkweed, their primary food source.
This isn’t the first time weather radar has “seen” bugs this year: Both grasshoppers in New Mexico and mayflies in Wisconsin were spotted on radar.
Scientists are finding that weather radar is proving useful to track birds, bats and insects. While this information is just clutter to the weather folks, it is just the thing biologists need to study the activities of flying creatures, a science newly christened “aeroecology.”
As for the butterflies, the weather service in St. Louis wished “good luck and a safe journey to these amazing little creatures on their long journey south!”
Chinese wear face masks to protect themselves from the dense, hazardous air pollution blanketing Beijing on February 23, 2014. China issued a rare environmental orange alert after three days of hazardous air pollution, measured at ten times over the level of what the World Health Organization deems safe to breath. UPI/Stephen Shaver
BEIJING, Sept. 15 (UPI) – It is no secret China has a serious air pollution problem, but less known are proposed solutions, the results of brainstorming in the press.Residents are encouraged to think of resolutions, and some require less technology than others. Ideas are encouraged, and some are evidence to observers that China is not ready to resolve its smog issues. The city of Los Angeles was similarly swamped with silver-bullet approaches to its smog issues in the 1950s.
“We’re seeing the exact same thing in China that we saw in L.A. — crazy ideas coming out of the woodwork,” says Chip Jacobs, co-author of a book about the history of smog in Los Angeles.
Hundreds of world leaders including President Barack Obama and U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon are gathering this week at the U.N. to discuss climate change, and build momentum for a new internationally binding agreement that can be enacted in 2015. CLICK HERE to visit the TakePart website, and be sure to watch the opening film!
The Austin Animal Center, in partnership with several animal welfare groups, will host the first-ever Austin Pittie Limits event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 27. The Austin Animal Center is located in east Austin at 7201 Levander Loop.
Austin City Limits Music Festival is scheduled for the beginning of October, which is also Pit Bull Awareness Month, and we want to kick the festivities off in style by teaming up with other local animal welfare partners for an event that celebrates the diversity of “bully type dogs” and helps our community to better understand them and meet their needs.
Austin Pittie Limits will include live music and fun activities for the entire family, lots of adoptable dogs, plus informational booths about animal welfare resources available in our area, effective and positive dog training, prizes, goodie bags for adopted dogs, dog agility demos, games to play with your dog, and even a chance to make your own dog toys for active dogs! The event is free and open to the public, and pizza will be available for purchase.
(NASA) Before the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s climate changed due to natural events such as volcanic activity and solar energy variations. These natural events still contribute to climate change today, but their impact is very small compared to the growing levels of greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere by humans burning fossil fuels. NASA’s ongoing Earth science missions, research and computer models help us better understand the long-term global changes occurring today through both natural and manmade causes.
The production and consumption of chemical substances threatening the ozone layer has been regulated since 1987 in the Montreal Protocol. Eight international expert reports have since been published, which examine the current situation and the future of the threat to the ozone layer. Empa scientists made a decisive contribution to the latest report – presented on 10 September at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Image source: «Keystone»
After the detection of the ozone-depleting properties of CFCs in the 1970s, data from satellite measurements in 1985 startled mankind. A huge hole had been discovered over the Antarctic in the ozone layer that protects the Earth from dangerous, carcinogenic UV rays. Already in 1987 politicians around the world reached agreement on the Montreal Protocol that bans ozone-depleting substances, in particular chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). 197 states have now ratified this international treaty. A series of scientific expert reports has since accompanied the efforts to save the ozone layer. The eighth in the series of these reports was published on 10 September 2014 at a joint press conference of WMO (World Meteorological Organization) and UNEP (United Nations Environment Program). As one of the lead authors Empa scientist Stefan Reimann made a major contribution.
Ozone layer returning to its 1980 levels
The Antarctic ozone hole continues to appear every September. But unlike in the 1980s and 1990s it is no longer growing. Since the turn of the millennium it has remained unchanged. There are even signs of a slow recovery. Model calculations reveal that by 2050 the ozone layer may have returned to its 1980 levels. The concentration of most ozone depleting substances (mainly CFCs) mentioned in the Montreal Protocol has fallen as expected. This is monitored in measurements over many years, amongst other things, on Jungfraujoch. The global emissions of HCFCs, introduced as replacements but which are just as harmful to the ozone layer, have stabilized on a high level and are expected to fall in the future.
Now, surprisingly “new” CFCs have been discovered in the atmosphere, which have never been produced on an industrial scale, smaller amounts of which may nonetheless escape as industrial by-products. The concentration of these substances is, however, between 100 and 1,000 times lower than the classic ozone depleting substances. The fact that these substances can be traced shortly after they have been released highlights the capabilities of global measurement networks. The measurement networks act like early warning systems and ensure that emissions of potentially hazardous substances can be identified as early as possible. CFCs used in the past, for instance, in insulating foams and cooling systems still pose a significant threat to the ozone layer, though. During the recycling of these systems, it is important to collect CFCs separately and destroy them by incineration; otherwise this legacy of the past would harm the ozone layer more than all new substances together.
Whereas the classical ozone depleting substances are thus slowly disappearing, the volume of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the replacement for ozone-depleting substances, is increasing by around 7 percent a year. These substances do not harm the ozone layer but they often have a high greenhouse potential and contribute markedly to global warming. They, too, should be replaced in future. There are open questions, too, about the replacement substances supposed to mitigate the greenhouse effect. HFO-1234yf, for example, is intended to be used in AC system of new cars. This substance decomposes in the atmosphere into trifluoroacetic acid – a compound that is not degraded in nature and, therefore, accumulates in the environment.
Worrying deviations discovered
During the regular monitoring of trace gas data from the global measurement networks, the atmospheric researchers noticed significant deviations. These findings are also mentioned in the latest UNEP report. For instance, the concentration of the ozone-depleting gas carbon tetrachloride is not falling by four percent (as predicted) but by only one percent – although production of this substance is only allowed as intermediate, with very small expected emissions. New measurement data indicate that the emissions do not come from Europe or North America.
NASA’s MAVEN orbiter has entered Martian orbit after a journey of 10 months and 442 million miles, mission managers reported Sunday. The bus-sized spacecraft executed a crucial engine burn that lasted slightly longer than the expected 33 minutes. “Congratulations, Maven is now in Mars orbit,” Dave Folta, mission design and navigation lead, told the mission control team. That sparked an eruption of applause at Maven’s mission operations center near Denver.
Over the next several weeks, additional maneuvers will put the orbiter in position for a yearlong mission to monitor Mars’ upper atmosphere. Maven’s observations are expected to help scientists figure out how Mars lost its air over the course of billions of years and was transformed from a warmer, wetter world to the cold, dry planet we see today. The name of the $671 million mission is an acronym that stands for Mars Atmosphere andVolatile EvolutioN.