Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Frigid Friday Morning - Extended January Thaw Next Week - Approaching Midpoint of Meteorological Winter

3.7" snow fell yesterday at St. Cloud.
5" snow on the ground in St. Cloud.
6 F. high temperature yesterday.
21 F. average high in the STC metro area on January 11.
4 F. high temperature on January 11, 2016.
January 12, 2000: Snow falls in a narrow band over the Twin Cities. Maplewood receives 5.5 inches, while Chanhassen gets 12.
January 12, 1888: The infamous 'Blizzard of '88' occurs. It hit during a mild day when many children were heading home from school. They made up the majority of the 200 people that died. At the end of the storm the thermometer at St. Paul read -37.

Tales from the Tundra - 40 Degrees Next Week?

"Just for the record, the weather today is bitter with occasional fits of jealous rage” wrote Chuck Palahniuk in "Diary". Some of my favorite January memories? Pleading with my car heater. Using a credit card to chip the ice off the INSIDE of my windshield. Trying to time job interviews so potential employees wouldn't show up when it's -20F. That was more of an issue in the 80s and 90s than the 2010s.

We are fast approaching the nadir, the midpoint of winter, the bottom of the temperature bell curve - when temperatures bottom out, historically. Next week a higher sun angle will compensate for long nights and snow on the ground; average temperatures will be on the rise again.

More flurries are possible this morning but I don't expect the same level of vehicular mayhem we witnessed the past few days. What a mess.

After waking up to a brisk -15F Friday morning temperatures mellow over the weekend. A thaw is likely next week, in fact ECMWF guidance hints at 40F by late next week.

It's been an perfectly average winter - but with recent warming 'average' feels unnecessarily cold.

F-F-F Friday Morning Temperatures. Another character-building morning is shaping up as temperatures in the metro drop into the -10 to -15F range, maybe -20s as close as Willmar and St. Cloud. If it's any consolation winds will be light, so the wind chill won't be much lower than the air temperature. Well that's a relief. Model data: NOAA and Aeris Enterprise.

Friday Morning: NAM Guidance. Temperatures may be a few degrees to cold, but I suspect NAM has the right idea with temperatures colder than -10F in the immediate metro, maybe -20F in outlying suburbs and a few -30s over the Red River Valley (and Embarrass, of course). Friday morning 12z predicted temperatures:

Too Early For a Little Spring In My Step? Spring fever is nowhere to be found, but mid and upper 30s next week will feel like a meteorological epiphany. We cool down again by late July, but not as cold as it's been recently. ECMWF numbers above: WeatherBell.

Stay-Cation Next Week? Who needs Scottsdale, Fort Myers and Naples when the mercury will reach the 30s next week in Minnesota! Save the money on airfare and hotels. Shed a few layers, brush the ice off the grill and enjoy a midwinter break, the proverbial January Thaw is coming - and nothing can stop it.

Late January Cooling Trend. At least for the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and New England. Looking out 2 weeks the pattern still appears very stormy for the west coast of the USA with a strong subtropical jet stream that brings back memories of El Nino events gone by.

AerisWeather Briefing: Issued Wednesday afternoon, January 11th, 2017:

* A potential ice storm is shaping up for the end of the week and into the early weekend for areas from northern Texas to Illinois.
* Ice accumulations of over a quarter inch will be possible across portions of this region. This would lead to significant travel issues as well as impacts to trees and power lines.
* A Winter Storm Watch has already been issued across parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois for the icing threat. This includes the St. Louis and Oklahoma City metros.
* Out west, the heavy rain and snow will gradually come to an end in California over the next 24-36 hours, with a much needed break in precipitation through the weekend expected.

Ice Storm Potential. As we head into the end of the week, we will be watching a front stall across the southern/central Plains. Warm, moist air will be streaming north out of the Gulf of Mexico and slide over temperatures that will be near freezing near the surface. That will bring the setup necessary for freezing rain/ice across the area as we head into the end of the week and the weekend.

Winter Storm Watches Already In Place. National Weather Service offices are already issuing Winter Storm Watches for the potential of crippling ice across the region. As of this morning, these watches included St. Louis and Oklahoma City. These watches are in effect from late Thursday Night/Friday Morning into Saturday for the potential of more than a quarter of an inch of ice.

Forecast Ice Totals Through Friday. This is a snapshot of forecast ice totals through Friday evening across the southern/central Plains and into the Ohio Valley. While this does not cover the entire expected duration of the icing event, we can already see the potential of at least 0.2” of ice across parts of northern Oklahoma and southern Missouri. The areas with the heaviest ice accumulation possible through Friday evening would include Springfield, Rolla and Joplin (MO) and in the Stillwater, OK area. Totals of even this amount would be enough to cause significant travel issues as well as damage trees and power lines, which would lead to numerous power outages across the region. Map: WeatherBell.

Oklahoma City Expected Ice Through Sunday. While the heaviest of the ice (potentially a half an inch or more) will be to the north and west of the Oklahoma City metro, at this time the dividing line between ice and rain could dissect the metro. The current forecast has between a tenth and a quarter of an inch of ice for the metro.

Probability Of 0.10" Ice Through Saturday Morning. While this does not take us through the entire storm period, we can see a high chance of at least a tenth of an inch of ice accumulating from western and northern Oklahoma to southern and central Missouri.

Rain/Snow Winds Down Out West. While heavy rain and mountain snow will continue today and into tomorrow out west, as we head into the end of the week and into the weekend a much need break in moisture is expected across the region. The next big chance of rain across the region doesn’t look likely until the middle of next week.

Summary: We’re tracking a potentially crippling ice storm later this week for parts of the central and southern Plains, with ice accumulations of a quarter to a half an inch or more possible through the end of the weekend. Winter Storm Watches have been issued from Oklahoma to Illinois for the potential of heavy icing, including the Oklahoma City and St. Louis metros. This heavy of ice accumulation would lead to significant travel issues as well as impacts to trees and power lines across the region. In California, the rain and snow will gradually taper off as we head through Thursday across the region, with a much needed break in moisture coming into the weekend and early next week.

D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, AerisWeather

Top 5 Weather Events of 2016 in Minnesota. The Minnesota DNR has the list; here are the top 2 weather events of last year: "Here are the results of voting for the top five weather events of 2016 from the Minnesota State Climatology Office. Votes were cast from various weather enthusiasts including the National Weather Service, the University of Minnesota, State agencies and Facebook followers...
#2 Central Minnesota Flash Flood July 11-12, 2016
The largest flash flood in Minnesota since the event of June 19-20, 2012 struck part of the same region on July 11-12, 2016. The highest two-day total was a volunteer reader in Pine County with 9.34 inches. Southbound I-35 and Highway 61 was closed for a time on July 12. The area covered by six inches or more of rainfall exceeded 2,000 square miles, qualifying it as a "Mega Rain" event. The flooding would have been worse had it not been for the relatively dry conditions beforehand. In addition to the heavy rain, there were three tornadoes, two of which were EF2. .

#1 State Record Precipitation Total at Waseca and Record Annual Twin Cities Precipitation.
The event that garnered the most votes was the statewide annual precipitation record set at Waseca and the Twin Cities annual record precipitation. The preliminary 2016 precipitation total at Waseca is 56.24 inches, handily breaking the old record at St. Francis in Anoka County of 53.52 inches in 1991. The 2016 total at Waseca breaks the old record by 2.72 inches. The Twin Cities also broke the annual precipitation record that was set over 100 years ago. The preliminary total for 2016 is 40.32 inches, breaking the old record of 40.15 inches set in 1911. The precipitation record for the Twin Cities begins in 1871..."

Map credit: Minnesota DNR, State Climate Office. The July 11-12 "Mega-Rain" was one of 2 mega-rain events of 2016; the first time on record Minnesota has experienced 2 such widespread flood events.

Winter Weather Misery Index: This Is Still a "Mild" Winter. The arctic smacks and snow bursts have been evened out by 30s and rain. Factoring in snowfall and temperature it hasn't been that bad, at least not yet. That said, I think we'll at least wind up in the "moderate" range by the end of meteorological winter. Here's an excerpt from the Minnesota DNR: "..As of January 10, 2017 the WMI for the 2016-17 winter is at 41 points: 19 points for cold, 22 points for snow. This is enough for this winter to be in the "mild" category. Fourteen more points are needed for this winter to be categorized as "moderate." The WMI for the winter of 2015-16 finished with 47 points, enough for 2014-15 to be categorized as a "mild" winter. The WMI points for the 2015-2016 winter were 18 for cold and 29 snow: 46 points. The winter of 2016-17 should easily pass last winter in points. The WMI for the winter of 2013-14 in Twin Cities was 207 points, or in the high end of the "severe winter" category.  This was the 9th most severe winter on record based on WMI points. The lowest WMI score was the winter of 2011-2012 with 16 points. The most severe winter is 1916-1917 with 305 WMI points. Note, this could also be called the "Winter Fun Index" depending on your perspective!..."

December 2016: Really Cold, Really Warm, Nearly Average. The Minnesota DNR has a very good recap highlighting just how manic last month was: -20F on December 18. One week later nearly an inch of RAIN on Christmas Day! Here's an excerpt: "...Minnesotans are used to large variations in temperatures, but December 2016 was notable for its long streaks of warm and cold conditions: the temperatures only switched from one side of average to another two times during the month. The result of these long stretches of seemingly opposite conditions was that the month ended up pretty close to average--slightly warmer in most locations, making it 16 straight warm months Twin Cities. December was also wet enough to help the Twin Cities break its all-time annual precipitation record. What a perfect way to end such a warm, wet, and stormy year!"

Graphic credit: "December 2016 daily temperatures and departures in the Twin Cities."

Keep Your Pets Warm and Healthy This Winter Season. An article at High Plains Journal has some very good advice: "Just because they have a fur coat does not mean your pet can endure extended time outdoors when the temperature is frigid. Dogs, like other animals, must be out of the wind and dry for the insulating properties of their coats to be effective. Dogs that evolved in warm climates have short hair coats to protect them from the sun and help them stay cool, versus dogs that evolved in cold climates and have longer hair coats. If you are cold, your short-haired pet may be cold, too. Just as people add extra layers of clothing, bump up the thermostat or throw an extra log on the fire to keep warm, pet owners must take action to ensure their four-legged friends stay warm and healthy through the winter season..."

California: Stuck in a Stormy Rut. After a series of wild storms California dries out by the weekend, but strong storms are forecast to return the latter half of next week - another wave of flooding, mudslides and general disruption is likely within a week. Accumulated precipitation between now and Wednesday morning, January 25, courtesy of NOAA's GFS model and

Pineapple Express Delivers Heavy Rains, Flooding, Drought Relief to California. Here's an excerpt of a NASA article that delves into atmospheric rivers and the mixed atmospheric blessing now underway in California: "California, which has long been suffering through a strong, multi-year drought, is finally beginning to see some much needed relief as a result of a recent series of storms that are part of a weather pattern known as the “Pineapple Express.” The Pineapple Express is known as an atmospheric river. A large, slow-moving low pressure center off of the West Coast taps into tropical moisture originating from as far south as the Hawaiian Islands. This moisture is then channeled northeast by the subtropical jet steam towards the West Coast where the topography aids in squeezing out the moisture as air flows over the mountain ranges. Though these rains are certainly welcome and very much needed, they have also led to flooding and mudslides. The first storm in the series arrived in the middle of last week and brought rain to northern and central California. The next storm occurred over the weekend and brought heavy rains again to mostly northern and central California although southern California also received significant amounts. This event lead to widespread flooding, down trees and mudslides, especially in the Sierra Nevada where hurricane force winds occurred and Interstate 80 was closed due to a massive mudslide..."

What Is An Atmospheric River? Weather Phenomenon Hits California, Nevada with Rain, Snow and Flooding. A few interesting nuggets from International Business Times: "A not-entirely-unwelcome storm dumped heavy rain on parts of California and Nevada Sunday during part of a weather phenomenon known as an atmospheric river. Another followed close on its tail and was expected to bring up to 15 inches of rain in places like the Sierra Nevada mountains Monday. Atmospheric rivers are actually common weather patterns that occur all over the world. The term is used to describe narrow portions of the atmosphere that hold water vapor and bring rain, wind and snow as they travel. At any given moment, an atmospheric river is depositing rain or snow somewhere, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Anywhere between 30 to 50 percent of the annual precipitation that occurs on the West Coast of the United States is caused by atmospheric rivers..."

Infographic credit: NOAA.

Climate Disasters Cost U.S. $46 Billion as Flooding Leads List. Bloomberg has more perspective on 2016's toll: "Climate-based disasters caused $46 billion in damage and killed at least 138 in the 48 contiguous U.S. states last year, with inland flooding emerging as the costliest weather event for the first time since 1997. The number of billion-dollar occurrences was the second-highest since 1980, with one less than the 16 in 2011, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. It was also the second warmest year behind 2012 over 122 years, and the 20th consecutive warmer-than-normal year..."

File photo: Coast Guard.

It's Official: 2016 Was Second Hottest Year for U.S. Only 2012 was warmer. Climate Central reports: "2016 was the second hottest year for the U.S. in more than 120 years of record keeping, government scientists announced on Monday, marking 20 above-average years in a row. Every state had a temperature ranking at least in the top seven, with two, Georgia and Alaska, recording their hottest year. The announcement comes a week before the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which released the U.S. data, and NASA are expected to announce that 2016 set the record for the hottest year globally. Both the global record and the U.S. near-record are largely attributable to greenhouse gas-driven warming of the planet..."

Command and Control. The book was amazing, and now PBS's American Experience has turned it into a must-see documentary. There have been over 1,000 accidents involving nuclear warheads since the 1950s. Let that statistic sink in. We've just been very, very lucky. Stream it online here: "A chilling nightmare plays out at a Titan II missile complex in Arkansas in September, 1980. A worker accidentally drops a socket, puncturing the fuel tank of an intercontinental ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead in our arsenal, an incident which ignites a series of feverish efforts to avoid a deadly disaster. Directed by Robert Kenner (FOOD, INC.) and based on the critically acclaimed book by Eric Schlosser (FAST FOOD NATION), COMMAND AND CONTROL is a minute-by-minute account of this long-hidden story. Putting a camera where there was no camera that night, Kenner brings this nonfiction thriller to life with stunning original footage shot in a decommissioned Titan II missile silo. Eyewitness accounts — from the man who dropped the socket, to the man who designed the warhead, to the Secretary of Defense— chronicle nine hours of terror that prevented an explosion 600 times more powerful than Hiroshima."

Report Ranks Iowa as Top State for Corporate Access to Clean Energy. Midwest Energy News reports: "According to a new report, companies looking for easy access to renewable energy should consider moving to Iowa. That state, followed by Illinois, topped a ranking released Tuesday by the nation’s retail and tech sectors urging state governments to lower barriers to the further development of renewable energy. Ohio came in 8th. The report, assembled by Clean Edge on behalf of the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Information Technology Industry Council, comes just as state legislatures across the country are convening for their 2017 sessions. The report was quite clear about its intentions: to urge changes in state laws and regulations regarding renewable energy, and especially corporate access to it..."

Dutch Trains Become 100% Powered by Wind Energy. The Guardian reports: "All Dutch trains have become 100% powered by electricity generated by wind energy, the national railway company NS has said. “Since 1 January, 100% of our trains are running on wind energy,” said NS spokesman, Ton Boon..."

File photo credit: Reddit, leegethas

A California Bill Would Require Solar Panels on All New Buildings. Here's a link to a post at Pacific Standard: "California Senator Scott Wiener introduced legislation on Monday that would require certain buildings erected in the state to be equipped with solar panel installations. California law already requires all residential and commercial buildings under 10 stories to have at least 15 percent of the roof clear of obstructions and shade—in other words, “solar ready.” Wiener’s legislation goes a step further, mandating that either solar photovoltaic or solar water panels actually be installed on any new rooftops..."

"Majority of Vehicles Are Going to be Electric" Within 15 Years, Joe Biden Says in Detroit. Here's an excerpt from Mlive: "...Biden said during the tour he believes electric cars will eventually become the norm. "I think in the next 10 to 15 years, the majority of vehicles are going to be electric," Biden said. "It's why the president and I just announced we're supporting 25,000 miles of stations along interstate highways to continue to encourage people to move in that direction." Biden met briefly at each stop with Ford CEO Mark Fields, GM Vice President Mark Reuss and Fiat Chrysler's head of North American manufacturing Brian Harlow..."

Photo credit: "Vice President Joe Biden looks at the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV while at the North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center on Tuesday, January 10, 2017. Biden toured the Ford, Chrysler and Chevrolet booths at the auto show and met with executives from each company." Matt Weigand | The Ann Arbor News.

It's More Expensive Than Ever To Raise a Child in the U.S. It's a big number, according to The Washington Post: "It’s more expensive than ever to raise a child in the United States, where families will shell out an average of $233,610 from birth through age 17 — or about $13,000 a year — according to new figures from the government. The ballooning price tag, a 3 percent increase from a year earlier, comes at a time when day-care costs can exceed university tuitions and homes prices have skyrocketed to record highs. Families in urban areas in the Northeast, such as New York and Boston, were likely to pay even more — an average of $253,770, or roughly $14,000 a year — because of higher housing and child-care costs, according to a report by the Department of Agriculture..."

Why Do Canadians Say "Eh"? I learned something today, thanks to Atlas Obscura: "...Jack Chambers, a linguist at the University of Toronto, writes that these “ehs” are all of a piece. “All of these uses have one pragmatic purpose in common: they all show politeness,” he wrote in a 2014 paper. Using “eh” to end the statement of an opinion or an explanation is a way for the speaker to express solidarity with the listener. It’s not exactly asking for reassurance or confirmation, but it’s not far off: the speaker is basically saying, hey, we’re on the same page here, we agree on this. Even in the use of “eh” as a criticism or a command, the word seeks to find common ground. If I say “you’re an idiot, eh?”, what I’m saying is, you’re an idiot, but you should also think you’re an idiot, and our understanding of you as an idiot finds us on common ground..."
Photo credit: "Canada Day items on sale in Nova Scotia." Nicole Bratt/CC BY-SA 2.0

TODAY: Few flakes, then peeks of sun. Brisk. Feels like -15F. High: 10
THURSDAY NIGHT: Clearing and very cold. Low: -14

FRIDAY: Numbing start. Intervals of sun with light winds. Winds: SE 3-8. High: 5

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun. Better. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: -1. High: 21

SUNDAY: Patchy clouds, feeling in my toes! Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 11. High: 29

MONDAY: Overcast, light mix possible late. Winds: NE 5-10. Wake-up: 15. High: 31

TUESDAY: Early mix? Clouds linger. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 25. High: 33

WEDNESDAY: Some sun, vague hints of March. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 27. High: 35

Climate Stories...
Antarctica Is About to Lose an Enormous Amount of Ice. The Question is What Happens After That. Chris Mooney has the story at The Washington Post: "Last week, British scientists announced a disturbing finding — a crack in the Larsen C ice shelf in the Antarctic Peninsula had dramatically accelerated its spread, increasing 11 miles in length in the space of a month. This means the floating ice shelf, which is nearly as big as Scotland and the fourth largest of its kind in Antarctica, is poised to break off a piece nearly 2,000 square miles in size, or over 10 percent of its total area. An ice island the size of a small U.S. state would then be afloat in the Southern Ocean. That’s dramatic enough, but there is uncertainty in the science world about what would happen next. On the one hand, the researchers with Project MIDAS, who announced the growth of the rift, have published research suggesting that, in their words, it “presents a considerable risk to the stability of the Larsen C Ice Shelf.” If they’re right, it’s hard to understate how big a deal it is — Antarctica has lost ice shelves before, but not one so enormous. Not only would a loss of Larsen C change the map of the Earth itself; the shelf holds back glaciers capable of contributing about 4 inches of global sea level rise over time..."

Image credit: "The Larsen B ice shelf on March 7, 2002, after it shattered into thousands of smaller icebergs." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio.)

Alaskan Village, Citing Climate Change, Seeks Disaster Relief In Order to Relocate. There will be more climate refugees. Here's an excerpt from NPR: "The tiny village of Newtok near Alaska's western coast has been sliding into the Ninglick River for years. As temperatures increase — faster there than in the rest of the U.S. — the frozen permafrost underneath Newtok is thawing. About 70 feet of land a year erode away, putting the village's colorful buildings, some on stilts, ever closer to the water's edge. Now, in an unprecedented test case, Newtok wants the federal government to declare these mounting impacts of climate change an official disaster. Villagers say it's their last shot at unlocking the tens of millions of dollars needed to relocate the entire community..."

Photo credit: "The Ninglick River is eating away at the shoreline in Newtok, Alaska, shown here in August 2016. Engineers estimate the village is losing 70 feet of land per year." Eric Keto/Alaska's Energy Desk.

Swiss Alps Has Least Snowfall for Skiing in a Century. Bloomberg reports; here's a clip: "...You can’t expect things to be the same as they are now in 50 years’ time,” said Reto Knutti, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Studies, who estimates that by the end of this century the snowfall line could be 500 meters to 700 meters higher than today, with the length of time there’s snow on the ground between four and eight weeks shorter. “Winter days where at locations below 3,000 meters it just pours rain—that’ll be more frequent.” Already, the snow season in Switzerland starts 12 days later and ends 26 days earlier than in 1970, says Martine Rebetez, a professor at the University of Neuchatel, who along with colleagues studied data from 11 Alpine meteorological stations over four decades..."

Crazy Carbon Crystals and More New Ways to Fight Climate Change. Are we on the cusp of a tech revolution in "carbon capture"? There are some very encouraging developments, highlighted in a post at Forbes; here are 2 excerpts: "...In other words the solution could be used to grab CO2, which contributes to climate change, direct from the atmosphere and store it temporarily into crystals that form as a result...What might surprise readers most, though, is that this is just one way researchers have come up with to extract greenhouse gases from the ambient air. Last year I reported on a novel method that uses solar power to transform ambient CO2 into a raw material that can be used to create all sorts of things from aircraft to wind turbines. There's also interesting work going on around injecting CO2 into rock and converting it into ethanol..."

Photo credit: "Carbon dioxide trapped in crystals."

Republicans Want to Fight Climate Change, But Fossil Fuel Bullies Won't Let Them. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse at The Washington Post: "...The dirty secret is that climate change is not really a partisan issue in Congress. Its history has not been partisan, with Republican senators such as John McCain, Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, Lindsey O. Graham and Jeff Flake (as a House member) having introduced climate bills in the past. Climate change became partisan in 2010, shortly after the five Republican-appointed justices of the Supreme Court upended a century of law and precedent to issue the Citizens United decision, which rejected limits on corporate spending on political campaigns. The timing is not a coincidence. Big-business interests, particularly the fossil-fuel industry, led the charge. That industry’s annual U.S. subsidy is $700 billion, according to the International Monetary Fund. With stakes that high, the incentive to protect the subsidy and the amount that the fossil-fuel industry can afford to spend on political influence are enormous, so the restraints of campaign finance and disclosure rules were particularly galling..."

Photo credit: "Smoke is released into the sky at a refinery in Wilmington, Calif." (Bret Hartman/Reuters).

U.S. Business to Trump: Don't Ditch Climate Laws. Climate Home has the article: "Nike, Mars, Unilever and DuPont are among 630 US companies that have released a letter to lawmakers asking them to keep the country in the Paris climate deal. According to US green business group Ceres, which has coordinated the move, the businesses are based across 44 states, employ nearly 2 million people and take in $1.15 trillion a year. “We want the U.S. economy to be energy efficient and powered by low-carbon energy,” write the companies, who also include Starbucks, Hewlett Packard and IKEA..."

The letter to President Elect Trump is here.

Global Warming Will Increase "Pineapple Express" Storms in California. Basic physics: a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor. Here's an excerpt from Pacific Standard: "...An atmospheric river — also known as the Pineapple Express — is shunting moist Pacific air from near Hawaii to the slopes of the Sierra Nevada. While the surge of moisture is mostly welcome to boost snowpack and reservoir storage, California will likely experience similar extreme events much more frequently if global greenhouse gas emissions aren’t cut to near zero — and soon. Right now, California sees about six extreme atmospheric river rain storms per winter season, but if greenhouse gases keep increasing, global temperatures will rise by 4 degrees Celsius by 2100. That means the number of extreme rain events will increase to nine per winter, a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers concluded in a study published this week in the Journal of Climate..."

One Year From Today We'll Have Blown the World's Entire Carbon Budget. Here's an excerpt from Co.Exist: "As of now—by the least optimistic calculations—the world has one year to stop pumping CO2 into the atmosphere if we want to stop climate change at 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, the aim of the Paris climate agreement. A carbon countdown clock from researchers at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change does the math, estimating the time left at current emission levels. Even with a higher limit of two degrees of warming and the most optimistic projections, we still only have about 23 years to fully transition to a carbon-free economy..."

Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr

Methane May Not Last As Long in the Atmosphere, But It Drives Sea Level Rise for Centuries. Chelsea Harvey has the story at The Washington Post: "...A new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, written by Solomon and colleagues Kirsten Zickfeld of Simon Fraser University and Daniel Gilford of MIT, underscores the fact that even greenhouse gases that don’t last long in the atmosphere — methane, for instance — can have centuries-long impacts on the expanding oceans. So although the atmospheric warming they cause may taper off comparatively quickly after their emissions are halted, their effects in the oceans are much longer-lived. “The ocean never forgets — that’s the essential message of this paper,” Solomon said. The researchers used a climate model to examine the effect of various greenhouse gases on thermal expansion in the oceans. They started with a “business-as-usual” scenario, which assumes high emissions into the future. They applied this scenario to emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and various halocarbons, a group of chemicals including the chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons..." (Image credit: NASA).

U.S. Should Pursue Controversial Geoengineering Research, Federal Scientists Say for First Time. Because the world's governments aren't moving fast enough. Here's an excerpt from AAAS at Science: "The U.S. government office that oversees federally funded climate research has recommended studies into two areas of geoengineering research, marking the first time scientists in the executive branch have formally called for studies in the controversial field. The move, part of a climate science planning report sent today to Congress, will likely further normalize discussion of deliberate tinkering with the atmosphere to cool the planet, and of directly collecting carbon from the sky, both topics once verboten in the climate science community. Yet the new endorsement of geoengineering research comes amid deep uncertainty about the direction that climate research will take under the new administration of President-elect Donald Trump. Geoengineering is discussed in just two paragraphs of the 119-page plan, which aims to set out a research roadmap through 2021..."

Photo credit: NASA/ISS Crew/Johnson Space Center.

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