Saturday, June 25, 2016

Severe Storm Risk Today - Warm, Windy and Quiet Sunday - Comfortable Next Week

80 F. high Friday in St. Cloud.
80 F. average high on June 24.
79 F. high on June 24, 2015.
June 25, 2003: Heavy rain falls across central Minnesota. Elk River picks up 8.19 inches. 4.36 inches fall in 4 hours in Maplewood, and there are reports of street flooding in St. Paul. Strong winds topple trees in Richfield.
June 25, 1950: Flooding hits Warroad. Strong winds accompany waters that rose 4 feet in 10 minutes.

Enhanced Severe Storm Risk Today - Quiet Sunday

It's a Wheel of Misfortune - a Dark Lotto, where losing towns get publicity they never wanted & homeowners spend anxious hours on the phone with insurance companies.
In spite of supercomputers and sophisticated Doppler radar algorithms there's still no way to predict, more than a few minutes in advance, which communities will get whacked.
It's a little like a sneeze. You may feel one coming on, but exactly where and when you're going to "KA-CHOO"? Good luck.
A tropical stew of instability, dew points in the 70s and wind shear sets the stage for severe storms today. There will be watches and warnings for large hail, damaging straight-line winds, even a few tornadoes. Stay alert out there after 2 pm or so.
A wind shift to the west dries us out tomorrow with highs in the mid-80s. More sun, fewer sirens. A splash of Canadian air cools us into the 70s much of next week with comfortable dew points and little rain.
4th of July? It'll fall on the 4th again this year. Odds favor some sun with a high near 80F at KMSP. No baking heat. No snow flurries.
My fingers (and eyes) are crossed. 

Severe Saturday. With temperatures near 90F by early afternoon, a dew point in the low to mid 70s, significant instability and sufficient wind shear the risk of severe storms by afternoon will be considerable. The primary threat will be 60-75 mph straight-line winds and 1-2" diameter hail, but supercells forming out ahead of the main squall line may spin up a few tornadoes this afternoon. Map: NOAA SPC.

Afternoon Squall Line. The chance of showers and strong to severe storms will increase in the metro by late afternoon and evening as a line of heavy weather sweeps across the state. 4 KM NAM Future Radar courtesy of NOAA and AerisWeather.

Comfortable Next Week. 70s in late June and the first few days of July? Not too hard to take, considering dew points drop into the 50s, even 40s up north - about as comfortable as it ever gets in mid-summer. ECMWF (European) data hints at 91F this afternoon; nearly 20 degrees cooler by Monday. Source: WeatherBell.

Ample June Rains for Most of Minnesota. Dr. Mark Seeley takes a look at an increasingly volatile June, statewide. Here's an excerpt of this week's edition of Minnesota WeatherTalk: "...Thanks to heavy rains from thunderstorms, many climate observers are reporting over 5 inches of rain for the month of June, and a handful like Hutchinson, Mankato, New Ulm, Redwood Falls, Preston, and La Crescent have received over 6 inches. Though many observers are reporting above normal rainfall for this month, some areas of west-central Minnesota, especially from Wilkin to Lac Qui Parle Counties, remain drier than normal with rainfall deficiencies ranging from 3-5 inches since May 1st. Some farmers in Brown, Redwood, Renville, and Stearns Counties were assessing hail damage to corn and soybean fields. The University of Minnesota Extension has published some guidelines on assessing such damage for determining whether to replant fields..."
* The latest Drought Monitor update is here.

NASA Analysis of West Virginia Flood Event. Another 1-in-1,000 year rainfall event? Once again weather systems essentially stalled, with training storms dropping repeated bouts of heavy rain over the same (waterlogged) counties. Here's an excerpt from NASA's Precipitation Measurement Missions: "...GPM captured this image of the East-West oriented line of storms at 9:41 pm EDT on Thursday June 23rd (01:41 UTC 24 June 2016). The image shows rain rates derived from the GPM GMI (outer swath) and DPR (inner swath) overlaid on enhanced IR data from the GOES-East satellite. By this time, most of the heavy rain was located over southern Virginia along the border with North Carolina where rates are shown to exceed 50 mm/hr (~2 inches/hr, shown in dark red). Meanwhile a broad area of light to moderate rain (blue and green areas) stretches from the Atlantic Coast all the way through southern West Virginia and back into central Kentucky...."

Could a United Kingdom Exit From The EU Affect Weather Forecasts? What, if any, effect on ECMWF, the world's leading weather model? Here's an excerpt of a post from Dr. Marshall Shepherd at Forbes: "...I have no insight on how this vote affects the weather community but a “common sense” twitch in me suggests there could be some effects. While that ultimately remains to be seen, there are aspects worth noting about the United Kingdom (UK) and European Union as they pertain to the global weather enterprise. It is well-known in weather circles that the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) or “Euro” model is the leading weather forecasting model in terms of numerous metrics for skill. I am often amused at the passionate discussion about this..."
* Here's a link to a statement from ECMWF about England's decision to leave the EU.

April and May 2016 Continue Record-Setting Heat. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has an update; here's the intro: "April and May 2016 set new global temperature records for those two months, continuing a trend of the previous six months, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The global temperature for April was 1.96 °F (1.09 °C) warmer than the average for April from 1951 to 1980, which is used as a base period. The global temperature for May was 1.67 °F (0.93 °C) warmer than the May base period. Every month since October 2015 has broken the record for that month. GISS director Gavin Schmidt estimated a greater than 99 percent probability that 2016 as a whole will set a new heat record..."
Image credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center.

Hottest Days Come in Mid-July. It may seem counterintuitive, but the hottest weather doesn't come on the Summer Solstice, when the sun angle is highest in the sky. There is a built-in "lag" in the atmosphere, as water takes longer than land to heat up, and historically the hottest days of summer come 2-3 weeks after the solstice, in mid-July. Graphic credit: Climate Central.

Shopping for Dry Clothes. Check out the flash flooding in an underground shopping mall in Jinan, China. The shoppers look fairly calm - I'd be screaming like a schoolgirl. Details and video via YouTube: "Back on a milestone for customers Ginza shopping center in Jinan in China, who have been trapped by a terrible flood caused by floods. It is a true torrent that has formed in the galleries and shop shelves, causing damage and significant losses for sellers. The "Ginza Shopping Mall" is a large underground shopping center, with an area of over 40,000 square meters and is located in the heart of Jinan Springs Plaza."

A Record 66 Million Trees Have Died in California, Increasing Fire Risk. Four years of severe drought have taken a toll, as reported at USA TODAY: "California is a tinderbox of dead trees, which is fueling the fire risk in the state. According to a report released Wednesday, 26 million trees have died in the southern Sierra Nevada since October 2015. The deaths are in addition to the 40 million trees that died across the state from 2010 to October 2015, bringing the total to at least 66 million dead trees. The report, which was prepared by the U.S. Forest Service, was released as several wildfires continue to char thousands of acres across the state, with thousands of Californians ordered to flee their homes..."
Photo credit: "Dead trees are seen near Bass Lake in the Sierra National Forest." (Photo: U.S. Forest Service).

American Drivers Regain Appetite for Gas Guzzlers. Here's the intro to a New York Times story: "The single most effective action that most Americans can take to help reduce the dangerous emissions that cause climate change? Buy a more fuel-efficient car. But consumers are heading in the opposite direction. They have rekindled their love of bigger cars, pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, favoring them over small cars, hybrids and electric vehicles, which are considered crucial to helping slow global warming..."

72% of Corporations Are Actively Procuring Clean Energy. Here's the intro to a piece at Greentech Media: "Cheaper renewable energy is allowing more corporations to look at options for generating their own power. But corporate sustainability mandates, rather than price alone, remain the primary driver of those purchasing decisions, according to a new survey from PwC. Seventy-two percent of companies surveyed said they are actively procuring renewable energy, mainly wind and solar. For those that are buying renewables, nearly half have specific renewable energy goals, although the attractive payback was the second-biggest driver for seeking out clean energy..."

Who Will Build The Next Great (Driverless) Car Company? Will car ownership truly be optional within 5-10 years as a majority of people simply hail the nearest (autonomous, driverless) vehicle in their zip code? Here's an excerpt of a story at Fortune: "...Back then the idea of self-driving cars looked, to Ford’s leadership, like a frivolous Silicon Valley moonshot. Four years later things have dramatically changed. Today Ford’s vehicle lineup features more than 30 options for semiautonomous features, including the automatic brakes I tested, and the company is aggressively working on cars that fully drive themselves. By year-end the company expects to have the largest fleet of autonomous test vehicles of any automaker. Ford is not alone. The entire automotive industry is in the midst of a radical transformation that is reshaping the very definition of what it means to be a car company. There is hype, hope, fear, and insecurity—and at the center of it all is the self-driving car..."
Photo credit: "A Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle." Photo: Courtesy of Ford Motors.


The Return of the Machinery Question. Is AI (artificial intelligence) the dawn of a new age of computer-amplifed productivity and growth, or the start of a new wave of job disruption? The Economist has an interesting article; here's an excerpt: "...Today the machinery question is back with a vengeance, in a new guise. Technologists, economists and philosophers are now debating the implications of artificial intelligence (AI), a fast-moving technology that enables machines to perform tasks that could previously be done only by humans. Its impact could be profound. It threatens workers whose jobs had seemed impossible to automate, from radiologists to legal clerks. A widely cited study by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne of Oxford University, published in 2013, found that 47% of jobs in America were at high risk of being “substituted by computer capital” soon..." (Image: Michael Morgenstern).

I Have Found a New Way to Watch TV, And It Changes Everything. TV on fast-forward? Jeff Guo explains at The Washington Post: "I have a habit that horrifies most people. I watch television and films in fast forward. This has become increasingly easy to do with computers (I’ll show you how) and the time savings are enormous. Four episodes of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" fit into an hour. An entire season of "Game of Thrones" goes down on the bus ride from D.C. to New York. I started doing this years ago to make my life more efficient. Between trendy Web shows, auteur cable series, and BBC imports, there’s more to watch ever before. Some TV execs worry that the industry is outpacing its audience. A record-setting 412 scripted series ran in 2015, nearly double the number in 2009..."

While Brazil Was Eradicating Zika Mosquitoes, America Made Them Into Weapons. I had no idea - check out a story at Atlas Obscura: "...Even while American money was funding eradication efforts, led by Americans, in countries further south, the American government was one of the last holdouts in the hemisphere-wide effort to destroy A. aegypti. At the same time as the U.S. Public Health Service at last started trying to eradicate Aedes aegypti from the southeast, another branch of the U.S. government was planning to raise colonies of millions of A. aegypti mosquitos, to use as biological weapons..."
Image credit: "The mosquitoes won." Photo: James Gathany/CC BY 2.0



TODAY: Very humid with some hot sun. PM T-storms, some turn severe. Winds: S 15-25. High: 90
SATURDAY NIGHT: Strong to severe T-storms into late evening, drying out late. Low: 66

SUNDAY: Sunnier, drier - the nicer day. Gusty west winds at 15-25+ High: 85

MONDAY: Partly sunny, comfortable breeze. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 62. High: 75

TUESDAY: Sunny and glorious. Light winds. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 57. High: 77

WEDNESDAY: Less sun, isolated shower? Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 60. High: 79

THURSDAY: Unsettled, risk of a thundershower. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 63. High: 81

FRIDAY: Partly sunny, lukewarm. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 65. High: 83

Climate Stories...
Why the GOP is Trying to Stop the Pentagon's Climate Plan. Politico attempts to explain the inexplicable; here's an excerpt: "...This is what we ask our military and national security people to do, to think long-term, look at emerging threats, figure out ways to protect against these threats,” he said. DOD officials have been warning for years that climate change could have dire consequences on U.S. national security. Increased refugee flows, which are already straining Europe, are likely to accelerate as the climate heats up and have the potential to destabilize large swaths of the world, including the Middle East and South Pacific. The “oil wars” of the 20th century could give way to “water wars,” with countries competing for scarce natural resources. Higher energy costs may further strain the military’s budget and rising water levels could force the DOD to adjust locations of critical infrastructure facilities like ports..."

Forest Fires Can Heat Up The Whole Planet. A story at National Geographic explains how NASA is tracking the accelerating changes: "...Climate change is playing out twice as fast in the boreal forest than it is on the rest of the planet. Permafrost is thawing, and vegetation is changing as climatic zones migrate north faster than trees can adapt. Already, dramatic change can be glimpsed from space: The tundra is turning green, while the boreal forest is turning brown. Some scientists predict the boreal forest may reach a disastrous—and irreversible—tipping point this century and shift from carbon storehouse into a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Others contend that the tipping point has already been reached..."

Climate Change Could Put Major Boston Landmarks Under WaterCurbed Boston has a post; here's a clip:"new report from the University of Massachusetts and other local universities paints a particularly grim picture of the effects of climate change on Boston. Seas around the city could rise as much as 10.5 feet by 2100—that’s 84 years from now—and an astounding 37 feet by 2200. To put that in perspective, Faneuil Hall now floods at high tide at 5 feet and Copley Square at 7.5 feet, according to David Abdel at the Globe. The higher sea levels could pretty much doom these and other notable Boston sites..."

Guest Post: Three Ways to Boost Crop Resilience to Climate ChangeCarbon Brief looks at new and emerging best practices - focusing on corn; here's an excerpt: "Feeding a growing global population as our climate warms will be one of the biggest challenges that we face during this century. Introducing new crop varieties that thrive in warmer conditions can help farmers make their crops more resilient. But our new study suggests the climate is changing faster than new crops are being developed. Using maize crops in Africa as a case study, we look at three ways to help crop yields keep pace with rising temperatures, protecting food production in the future..." (Photo credit: Tim McCabe, USDA).

Why The Climate Change Fight Needs a New Type of Entrepreneur. Here's a clip of an interesting post from The University of California: "...Even the increasing rate of natural disasters has a silver lining for Carter. Disasters can free up money for quick action, sidestep political hurdles, increase a problem's visibility and provide an opportunity to rebuild in a sustainable way. “You can use the huge influx of cash from natural disasters to cause change to happen on a much faster timescale than is normally possible,” said Carter. “If you’re going to rebuild a home with insurance money, you can now build back your home in a completely net-zero way. In fact, you can even generate extra electricity, so it’s better than net-zero...”
Photo credit: Elene Zhukova. "UC Santa Cruz Professor and entrepreneur Sue Carter thinks the time is right for a big impact from entrepreneurs in clean energy."

Everything Is Bigger in Texas, Including the Floods. Check out the video and story excerpt from Nexus Media and Popular Science: "...America’s fourth-largest city suffered through a downpour of biblical proportions—storms delivered more rain in a single day than any hurricane in the history of the city. Floods stole dozens of lives and incurred billions in damages. Scientists have drawn a link between rising temperatures and increased precipitation. A warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor and deliver heavier downpours. As the planet heats up, Houston can expect more severe rainfall..."


A Peek Into the Relatively Sane Climate Debates Outside the United States. Grist takes a look at how conservative parties in just about every other country on Earth have accepted the science and are now focusing on solutions: "...Norwegian researcher Sondre Båtstrand last year compared conservative parties  in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, and Australia, finding that the U.S. Republican Party alone was “an anomaly in denying anthropogenic climate change.” Even when conservative candidates argue against climate-change action in their home countries, scientific denial is rarely part of the conversation. Here’s a whirlwind tour of the climate and energy debate around the world (which is thoroughly blissful compared to U.S. politics).." (Image credit: NASA).

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Slight Severe Storm Risk Saturday - Break from Heat, Humidity & Storms Much of Next Week

79 F. high temperature at KSTC yesterday.
80 F. average high on June 23.
80 F. high on June 23, 2015.

June 24, 2002: Heavy rains fall on already saturated ground, leading to flooding. 5.50 inches fall at Delano, and half of a mobile home park at Howard Lake is evacuated due to rising water.
June 24, 1972: Frost develops across northeast Minnesota. Duluth has a low of 35 and Tower bottoms out at 32.



Severe Saturday? 4th of July Weather Preview

"There is little chance that meteorologists can solve the mysteries of weather until they gain an understanding of the mutual attraction of rain and weekends" wrote Arnot Sheppard.

There is no scientific reason why Saturdays should attract bulging thunderheads and expansive puddles any more than a Wednesday. On weekends more of us are outside, at the mercy of the elements; far more "weather sensitive" than during the week. We make a mental note when it rains on our parade.

Predicting whether it will rain at 2 pm on Monday, the 4th of July, is like trying to forecast where the NASDAQ will be one week from today. Billions of variables in play - computer models only go so far.

Caveats aside, right now long-range models hint at low 80s and scattered T-storms on the 4th of July. Par for the course. A suffocating heat wave remains centered over California into mid-July with occasional waves of heat expanding into Minnesota, but no sustained bouts of 90s in sight.

Saturday storms may turn severe by afternoon. Sunday still looks like the sunnier, drier, kinder day of the weekend.


Dry Friday - Severe Storm Risk Saturday Greatest Eastern Minnesota & Wisconsin. Here's the 60-hour Future Radar from NOAA's 4 KM NAM model, showing a growing risk of showers and T-storms by Saturday; a few may be strong to severe. Source: AerisWeather.

Saturday Severe Potential. NOAA SPC has the eastern half of Minnesota and western half of Wisconsin in a slight risk - not a major outbreak, but straight-line wind and hail damage is quite possible, even a couple of isolated tornadoes.

April and May 2016 Continue Record-Setting Heat. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has an update; here's the intro: "April and May 2016 set new global temperature records for those two months, continuing a trend of the previous six months, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The global temperature for April was 1.96 °F (1.09 °C) warmer than the average for April from 1951 to 1980, which is used as a base period. The global temperature for May was 1.67 °F (0.93 °C) warmer than the May base period. Every month since October 2015 has broken the record for that month. GISS director Gavin Schmidt estimated a greater than 99 percent probability that 2016 as a whole will set a new heat record..."

Image credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center.

4th of July Outlook. Here's an excerpt of a good overview from Planalytics: "Much of the U.S. will celebrate with seasonal to warmer than normal temperatures over the holiday weekend, lifting demand for hot weather consumables and summer apparel. Strong heat will persist in the Southwest, expanding into the Plains. The Pacific Northwest is expected to trend cooler compared to the extreme warmth of last year, although temperatures will be above normal. The Northeast and Midwest can anticipate slightly warmer than normal and last year temperatures, continuing to warm throughout the weekend. An active pattern across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast will result in slightly cooler than normal and last year conditions for these regions. The greatest chance for precipitation is focused along the East and Gulf Coasts, as well as the Four Corners region during the holiday weekend, threatening barbecues and other outdoor activities."


Hottest Days Come in Mid-July. It may seem counterintuitive, but the hottest weather doesn't come on the Summer Solstice, when the sun angle is highest in the sky. There is a built-in "lag" in the atmosphere, as water takes longer than land to heat up, and historically the hottest days of summer come 2-3 weeks after the solstice, in mid-July. Graphic credit: Climate Central.


Shopping for Dry Clothes. Check out the flash flooding in an underground shopping mall in Jinan, China. The shoppers look fairly calm - I'd be screaming like a schoolgirl. Details and video via YouTube: "Back on a milestone for customers Ginza shopping center in Jinan in China, who have been trapped by a terrible flood caused by floods. It is a true torrent that has formed in the galleries and shop shelves, causing damage and significant losses for sellers. The "Ginza Shopping Mall" is a large underground shopping center, with an area of over 40,000 square meters and is located in the heart of Jinan Springs Plaza."

Portable Severe Storm Awareness. A new generation of smartphone apps can deliver GPS-specific warnings, but cell phone coverage in the BWCA is spotty. Your best bet? Take along a portable NOAA Weather Radio, which should work almost everywhere. It may be impossible to avoid falling trees, but finding a cave, a clearing or even an outcropping of rocks provides some (slight) protectionif a building or vehicle isn't available nearby.

NOAA Weather Radio Coverage in Minnesota. Coverage is good, statewide, with the exception of a gap north of Bemidji. It's not perfect, but if you're camping in northern Minnesota, especially the Arrowhead or BWCA you stand a better chance of getting that severe storm warning via NOAA Weather Radio then relying on a cell signal. For more details from NOAA click here.

It Will Take Years of Wet Weather for California to Recover From Drought, Study Finds. Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "...But a study published Tuesday in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, offered support for the argument that state hydrologists have been making for months: It will take several years to recover from the four-year water shortage. Specifically, researchers studied the Sierra Nevada and found that the lackluster snowpack there, year after year, created a sizable water deficit that the state may not recoup until 2019..."

Photo credit above: "An aerial view of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite National Park in January." (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times).

A Record 66 Million Trees Have Died in California, Increasing Fire Risk. Four years of severe drought have taken a toll, as reported at USA TODAY: "California is a tinderbox of dead trees, which is fueling the fire risk in the state. According to a report released Wednesday, 26 million trees have died in the southern Sierra Nevada since October 2015. The deaths are in addition to the 40 million trees that died across the state from 2010 to October 2015, bringing the total to at least 66 million dead trees. The report, which was prepared by the U.S. Forest Service, was released as several wildfires continue to char thousands of acres across the state, with thousands of Californians ordered to flee their homes..."

Photo credit: "Dead trees are seen near Bass Lake in the Sierra National Forest." (Photo: U.S. Forest Service).

The Southwest Burns as Record Heat Sparks Volatile Wildfires. Here's an except of a good summary at Mashable: "...A heat dome comprised of an intense, sprawling area of high pressure sat on top of the Southwest for a third straight day. Although it shows some signs of weakening, the heat dome may intensify again by early next week, raising the possibility of a prolonged hot and dry weather pattern in an already parched region. Firefighters are making some headway in containing fires across the Southwest, though exceedingly hot temperatures in the region aren't helping..."

Photo credit: "Smoke from wildfires burning in Angeles National Forest fills the sky behind the Los Angeles skyline on Monday, June 20, 2016." Image: Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP.


72% of Corporations Are Actively Procuring Clean Energy. Here's the intro to a piece at Greentech Media: "Cheaper renewable energy is allowing more corporations to look at options for generating their own power. But corporate sustainability mandates, rather than price alone, remain the primary driver of those purchasing decisions, according to a new survey from PwC. Seventy-two percent of companies surveyed said they are actively procuring renewable energy, mainly wind and solar. For those that are buying renewables, nearly half have specific renewable energy goals, although the attractive payback was the second-biggest driver for seeking out clean energy..."

This Is What Electric Cars Will Do to the U.S. Gas Demand. Here's a link and story excerpt at Fortune: "Demand for U.S. gasoline is expected to fall by 5%—and could be cut by as much as 20%—over the next two decades, according to a new report released Monday by energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. The culprit? Electric cars. The U.S. currently uses more than nine million barrels of gasoline a day. According to the report, if electric cars gain more than 35% market shares by 2035, the U.S. could see a cut from nine million to two million barrels used a day..."

Who Will Build The Next Great (Driverless) Car Company? Will car ownership truly be optional within 5-10 years as a majority of people simply hail the nearest (autonomous, driverless) vehicle in their zip code? Here's an excerpt of a story at Fortune: "...Back then the idea of self-driving cars looked, to Ford’s leadership, like a frivolous Silicon Valley moonshot. Four years later things have dramatically changed. Today Ford’s vehicle lineup features more than 30 options for semiautonomous features, including the automatic brakes I tested, and the company is aggressively working on cars that fully drive themselves. By year-end the company expects to have the largest fleet of autonomous test vehicles of any automaker. Ford is not alone. The entire automotive industry is in the midst of a radical transformation that is reshaping the very definition of what it means to be a car company. There is hype, hope, fear, and insecurity—and at the center of it all is the self-driving car..."

Photo credit: "A Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle." Photo: Courtesy of Ford Motors.

Energy-Efficient Homes: Yes, We Want Them. But We Haven't Done The Work. Dave Roberts reports at Vox; here's a clip: "...Concern over climate change and resource depletion has risen steadily, as has concern over personal carbon footprint. While affordable energy is still residential customers’ top concern, at 59 percent, "utilizing clean energy sources" comes in a close second, at 56 percent. And that interest is led by millennials, who, relative to older demographics, "are more concerned about shifting to cleaner sources of energy, more willing to pay for this shift through a surcharge in their electricity bills, and more interested in incentives for saving electricity and purchasing related technologies." They are also more likely to believe that government and utilities should take an active role in encouraging energy-saving behaviors and technology..." (Image credit: Shutterstock).

Fracking, Earthquakes and Visual Storytelling. I found an article at Scientific American interestinig and timely; here's an excerpt: "The idea that human activities can cause earthquakes, or so-called induced seismicity, has been around for some time, but demonstrating its role and pinpointing exactly how it happens can be difficult. The July issue of Scientific American features a story by Anna Kuchment on how wastewater injection from oil and gas operations has been triggering earthquakes in the central United States over the past several years. Kuchment tells the stories of people affected by this phenomenon and argues for regulation to combat the issue. However, when the narrative becomes more technical—as in, how does this geological phenomenon work?—an information graphic does much of the heavy lifting..."

Image credit: "Class II Saltwater Disposal for 2009–2014 at the Annual-, State-, and County- Scales by Geologic Zones of Completion, Oklahoma, by Kyle e. Murray. Oklahoma Geological Survey, December 31, 2015 (wastewater injection data); USGS Earthquake Maps (earthquake data)
Maps by Amanda Montañez.

The Return of the Machinery Question. Is AI (artificial intelligence) the dawn of a new age of computer-amplifed productivity and growth, or the start of a new wave of job disruption? The Economist has an interesting article; here's an excerpt: "...Today the machinery question is back with a vengeance, in a new guise. Technologists, economists and philosophers are now debating the implications of artificial intelligence (AI), a fast-moving technology that enables machines to perform tasks that could previously be done only by humans. Its impact could be profound. It threatens workers whose jobs had seemed impossible to automate, from radiologists to legal clerks. A widely cited study by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne of Oxford University, published in 2013, found that 47% of jobs in America were at high risk of being “substituted by computer capital” soon..." (Image: Michael Morgenstern).

Another Age of Discovery. Thomas Friedman at The New York Times makes the case that radical shifts in technology and innovation, disruption on a massive scale, can leave many people unsettled, their skills no longer in demand - which has political implications; here's an excerpt: "...Because, as in the Renaissance, key anchors in people’s lives — like the workplace and community — are being fundamentally dislocated. The pace of technological change is outstripping the average person’s ability to adapt. Now, like then, said Goldin, “sizable parts of the population found their skills were no longer needed, or they lived in places left behind, so inequality grew.” At the same time, “new planetary scale systems of commerce and information exchange led to immense improvements in choices and accelerating innovations which made some people fabulously rich...”

I Have Found a New Way to Watch TV, And It Changes Everything. TV on fast-forward? Jeff Guo explains at The Washington Post: "I have a habit that horrifies most people. I watch television and films in fast forward. This has become increasingly easy to do with computers (I’ll show you how) and the time savings are enormous. Four episodes of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" fit into an hour. An entire season of "Game of Thrones" goes down on the bus ride from D.C. to New York. I started doing this years ago to make my life more efficient. Between trendy Web shows, auteur cable series, and BBC imports, there’s more to watch ever before. Some TV execs worry that the industry is outpacing its audience. A record-setting 412 scripted series ran in 2015, nearly double the number in 2009..."


TODAY: Warm sunshine. Winds: SE 10-15. High: 84

FRIDAY NIGHT: Dry evening, T-shower possible late. Low: 71

SATURDAY: Sticky with T-storms, some severe. Dew point: 72. Winds: S 10-20. High: near 90

SUNDAY: Sunnier, drier and less humid. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 68. High: 86

MONDAY: Partly sunny, cooler and comfortable. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 62. High: 77

TUESDAY: Bright sun, lighter winds. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 58. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, still quiet. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 57. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Warm sun, few T-storms far northern MN. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 62. High: 82


Climate Stories...

Everything Is Bigger in Texas, Including the Floods. Check out the video and story excerpt from Nexus Media and Popular Science: "...America’s fourth-largest city suffered through a downpour of biblical proportions—storms delivered more rain in a single day than any hurricane in the history of the city. Floods stole dozens of lives and incurred billions in damages. Scientists have drawn a link between rising temperatures and increased precipitation. A warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor and deliver heavier downpours. As the planet heats up, Houston can expect more severe rainfall..."



A Peek Into the Relatively Sane Climate Debates Outside the United States. Grist takes a look at how conservative parties in just about every other country on Earth have accepted the science and are now focusing on solutions: "...Norwegian researcher Sondre Båtstrand last year compared conservative parties  in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, and Australia, finding that the U.S. Republican Party alone was “an anomaly in denying anthropogenic climate change.” Even when conservative candidates argue against climate-change action in their home countries, scientific denial is rarely part of the conversation. Here’s a whirlwind tour of the climate and energy debate around the world (which is thoroughly blissful compared to U.S. politics).." (Image credit: NASA).


Nuclear New-Build Not Fast Enough to Curb Global Warming: Report. Reuters has the story; here's the intro: "Nuclear reactors are not being built rapidly enough around the world to meet targets on curbing global warming, a report by the World Nuclear Association, an industry body, said on Tuesday. The association, which represents the global nuclear industry, says 1,000 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity needs to be added by 2050 so nuclear can supply around 25 percent of global electricity. Last year, more nuclear reactors were under construction and came online than at any other time in the past 25 years and building times have improved..."

Photo credit above: "Two cooling towers and pressurized water reactors of the nuclear power plant of French supplier Electricite de France (EDF) are pictured in Cattenom, eastern France, January 27, 2016." Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay.

People Don't Trust Hypocritical Climate Scientists, Study Finds. Here's an excerpt of a story at Grist: "...According to the research, people are more forgiving of a climate scientist who flies often than one who lives in an enormous mansion. “If I live in a huge, gargantuan house … my credibility completely plummets,” Attari says. She suspects this is because people are more likely to understand that climate researchers are required to fly for work, while they have more choice over what they do at home. Some climate researchers have started to limit their flights, but it’s really hard, Attari says..."