Friday, April 15, 2011

Iceland Volcano not the cause of extreme winter of 1783-84. - The eruption of Laki volcano in Iceland is often blamed for the unusually harsh winter of 1783 to 1784 around the North Atlantic. But new research lays the blame for the extreme cold elsewhere.
Scientists find that the extremes of cold back then might actually have been triggered by the same climate effects potentially responsible for the unusually cold and snowy winter that Europe and North America experienced from 2009 to 2010. These new findings shed light on how extremes in natural variability in climate have played — and still play — a key role in our world today, along with any recent global warming effects.
Iceland's Laki volcano began erupting on June 8, 1783, and continued doing so for months, causing a major environmental disaster. The volcano spewed out toxic fumes that spread over northern latitudes, causing about 23,000 deaths in Britain alone. The summer of 1783 saw heat waves, extreme cold, widespread famines, crop failures and livestock losses — a crisis that might have even hastened the French Revolution. The following winter, record cold was seen around the North Atlantic. Temperatures in Europe were about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) below average for the late 1700s, and the winter was also one of the coldest of the past 500 years in eastern North America.
The Laki eruption has been blamed for that exceptionally deadly winter. But the new findings now may exonerate the volcano. Instead of its ashes and gas triggering a colder winter, scientists suggest that the cold snap might have been caused by an unusual combination of climate effects that apparently are similar to those that made the 2009 to 2010 winter so bitter in western Europe and eastern North America. In the winter of 2009 to 2010, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a climate phenomenon in the North Atlantic sector, went through a negative phase, meaning less warm air flowed into Europe and more cold Arctic air headed toward North America. At the same time, the El NiƱo–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a climate pattern in the tropical Pacific Ocean, went through a warm phase, which can potentially cause wetter, cloudier winters in northern Europe and enhanced storms to hit the central and southern latitudes of the United States. Scientists found that NAO and ENSO conditions during the 1783 to 1784 winter were similar to those seen in the 2009 to 2010 winter. In ranking this kind of combined NAO-ENSO events, the researchers found that the 2009 to 2010 winter showed THE STRONGEST COMBINED EFFECTS and the 1783 to 1784 winter THE SECOND STRONGEST IN THE PAST 600 YEARS. At the same time, their simulations of the effects of the Laki eruption and its dissipation through the autumn of 1783 suggest that it did not play a key role in these events. The researchers now plan to examine the 2010 to 2011 winter and place it into long-term context, as well as the different phases of ENSO and NAO, their combinations over time and their spatial variations.

**Happiness will not come from happiness; but only from pain.
We know the value of standing in shade
only after roaming in the hot day sun.**
Atharva Veda

This morning -

Yesterday -
4/14/11 -

The earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan and triggered a nuclear crisis have negatively affected nearly 60 percent of Japanese companies, disrupting production and supply chains.


AUSTRALIA - Cyclone Errol brewing off Western Australia. A cyclone warning has been issued for coastal Kimberley communities.


COLUMBIA - A mudslide caused by heavy rain has engulfed a bus in Colombia, killing at least 14 people. The bus was leaving the central city of the city of Manizales when it was hit by a collapsing hillside and swept into a ravine. Rescuers have been searching for six others missing after the accident.
Over the past year Colombia has suffered widespread floods that have killed more than 300 people and forced 2 million from their homes. Emergency workers have been recovering bodies from the bus, which was completely buried by mud and rock. Some parts of Manizales have been evacuated because of the risk of further landslides. The 2010-11 rainy season in Colombia has been been THE WORST IN COLOMBIA'S RECENT HISTORY, flooding huge areas and causing damage that will cost billions of dollars to repair.

OKLAHOMA - A large tornado ripped through a tiny southeastern Oklahoma town late Thursday, killing at least one person and leaving more than two dozen others injured.


Deadly 2010 Russian heat wave: Not from climate change - Although some people may try to ascribe specific extreme weather events to climate change, global warming cannot be held responsible for recent weather events such as the 2010 Russian heat wave. Using climate simulations and a comparison against historical conditions, researchers assessed the influence of greenhouse gases, aerosols, anomalous sea surface temperatures, and other potential climate forcings on the likelihood and magnitude of the 2010 Russian heat wave. The authors suggest that the heat wave, which lasted from late June to mid-August and was responsible for thousands of deaths, widespread wild fires, and devastating crop loss, fell well within the bounds of natural climate variability.
The authors find that none of the tested climate factors showed appreciable ability to predict the extreme temperatures seen throughout the heat wave. Additionally, the researchers' historical analysis reveals that July temperatures, as well as the temperature variability, for the affected region of western Russia showed no significant trend over the past 130 years. They note that the top 10 hottest July days for the region were distributed randomly across the historical period, although global averages do show clustering in the past 2 decades. While the researchers argue that there is no reason to have anticipated the extreme nature of the heat wave from a historical perspective, many of the details of this particular event could have been predicted using short-term weather forecasting.
From June to August 2010, a stable high-pressure air mass hung in the sky over western Russia. This episode of "atmospheric blocking" drove up temperatures, causing thousands of deaths and breaking temperature records across the country. Strong heat waves like the one in Russia increase their potential to do damage the longer they persist, putting added stress on populations susceptible to dehydration, reduced air quality, and other heat-related illnesses. Long durations of consistently high temperatures also increase the likelihood of drought-driven crop loss and wildfires, both of which devastated the Russian countryside and economy. In a retrospective analysis, the forecasting systems in place to monitor the atmospheric blocking over western Russia faltered, failing to predict the extended duration of the blocking as the record-breaking temperatures crept into early August.
Comparing the predictions of five medium-range ensemble forecasting models and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts' highest-resolution deterministic forecasting model, the author finds that the onset of the atmospheric blocking and resultant temperature increases, from early June to late July, was easily predicted by the models up to 9 days in advance. However, the extended blocking, stretching from 30 July to 9 August, and the peak temperature anomaly of 11.3°C (30.3°F), were not predicted, with the models underestimating both the magnitude and duration of the extreme event. The heat wave, while largely predictable on short, weather-driven timescales, appears not to be the product of long-term climate changes. Instead, as discussed above, the heat wave falls within the realm of natural variability.

SOMALIA - Spring shower raises hopes, spirits of drought-stricken Somalis. With the arrival of spring, the regions of Gedo, Lower Shabelle, Bay, Bakool and the city of Mogadishu, on Wednesday night witnessed a scanty rainfall after years of drought that has severely affected both the people and domestic animals.

UGANDA - Africa's second-biggest coffee exporter slashed its shipment forecast for the 2010-11 season by 16 percent after a drought cut yields.

AUSTRALIA - Drought hits Western Australia's alumina producers. Western Australia's drought is starting to cripple parts of the resource sector, with the state's biggest alumina refinery running out of water. Alcoa has admitted it is trucking about a million litres of non-potable water every night.

CUBA'S WORST DROUGHT IN 50 YEARS is forcing the government to deliver water to about 100,000 people in Havana with trucks. A water pipe network in poor condition compounds the problem in Havana.

U.S. -
Drought a big worry as cotton planting begins - “Extreme drought conditions are spread from southeastern Arizona to the Mississippi River.

TEXAS - The drought situation in Texas has reached the critical stage, says a Texas A&M University atmospheric scientist who also serves as climatologist for Texas. The punishing drought is taking hold again in Texas after rainfall in 2010 brought a respite from a two-year drought that burned up crops and forced ranchers to sell cattle earlier than normal. Wildfires also are ravaging the state. The latest report from the US Drought Monitor released last week shows 98 percent of Texas now in a drought, and more than 86 percent in a severe drought or worse. Texas experienced its DRIEST MARCH ON RECORD.
Drought conditions and high winds have fueled destructive wildfires in northern Mexico and the southern US plains states, especially Texas, where dozens of homes have burned in recent days. The dry weather is also having an impact on agriculture.

OKLAHOMA - Severe drought causes boating problems at Oklahoma lakes. Counties across Oklahoma are seeing severe drought conditions. The drought is THE WORST THE STATE HAS SEEN SINCE THE 1920s.

KANSAS - The condition of the Kansas wheat crop has declined slightly under stress from high winds and dry conditions. Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 37 percent of the wheat is in poor to very poor condition.

CALIFORNIA - "Drought may be over but we still have water problems." California's three-year drought is officially over -- is a relief to residents, farmers and everyone who cares about the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, as environmental catastrophe is staved off. Reservoirs are at above-normal levels.

NEW MEXICO - The Las Vegas City Council has declared a state of emergency because of extreme drought conditions. The action bans any lawn watering or the washing of cars, except for car washes that recycle their water.