Friday, June 29, 2012

Extreme U. S. weather. Epic fires. Withering heat. June has become a month of superlatives, possibly with no end in sight. When the Waldo Canyon Fire erupted Tuesday night, turning the northwest quadrant of Colorado Springs into a monstrous neighborhood-consuming inferno, the El Paso County sheriff described it as “EPIC.” When the High Park Fire exploded across 8,000 acres on its first day, it was described as the UNPARALLELED wildfire Larimer County has always feared. And then there are the weather extremes: Triple-digit temperatures baked Fort Collins three days in a row — June 23, 24 and 25 — for only the second time in history, as Denver tied its all-time record high of 105 degrees this week.
So, is all this a grotesque display of climate change incinerating Colorado right before our eyes? That’s what climate scientists are asking, but the answer isn’t simple. “They’re realizing that this is a question that the public should be thinking about and should be hearing from scientists on. One thing is clear - History is colored with severe droughts, but 2012, with its DRIEST-ON-RECORD spring, is TRULY EXTRAORDINARY. You sit there and say, well if this is the warmest and driest for that time period, what can we blame that on?"
The International Panel on Climate Change was bold earlier in the decade when it predicted that global warming would produce early snowmelt and drier conditions across the Southwest, tying that to more frequent and larger wildfires across the region. “Extremes happen independent of climate change, but they would happen more often if the word of the climate scientists is held up, and the data we’re seeing so far with 2002 and 2012 not far apart says, well, you gotta at least perk up and pay attention."
“I would say that what climate change has done here is make the current scenario more likely to occur than it has (in the past),” but the current extreme conditions in Colorado can’t necessarily be attributed to climate change. Climate change means summers will get hotter, droughts will get drier and rainy seasons will get rainier. “This is one of those extreme cases. The key is, people ought to think of change not as a slow change in the average, but as changes in the extremes. We’re seeing changes in the maximum temperatures occurring more frequently than the average temperatures increasing.”
As Colorado Springs continued burning Wednesday, atmospheric scientist William Gray, whi is well known for his denial of mainstream climate science, argued that people must adapt to a warming climate that is certain to one day begin cooling again. Gray claims that global warming is really a manufactured idea that’s part of a conspiracy between the mainstream media, the U.S. government and scientists silenced by the threat of losing government grants. All of them, he said, are trying to frighten the public and sell them on the idea of a United Nations-led global government. Gray said scientists receiving government grants are biased, and objective peer review on climate change is impossible because of inescapable government influence.
“I think he stands by himself on his arguments. The vast majority of people here (in the CSU atmospheric science department), I believe everybody except for Bill, believes that we’ll keep warming with the CO2 (carbon dioxide) loads. Gray is correct in saying research funding is easier to get when scientists are in the mainstream, but there is no conspiracy. If it’s a conspiracy, it’s not at a level I’m privy to." If the conspiracy is real, “this is a 10,000-person conspiracy that’s keeping secrets somehow.” Climate scientists are just as curious as the public about any connection between the current weather and climate change. “Any question you’re asking me, I’m asking myself."

**He that fights and runs away,
May turn and fight another day;
But he that is in battle slain,
Will never rise to fight again.**

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
6/28/12 -

New Zealand's South Island Due for Earthquake - Alpine quake around the corner. A magnitude-8 earthquake along the Alpine Fault line is due to happen in as little as 30 years. Scientists have found that the southern part of the 800 kilometre-long fault - which runs along the western edge of the Southern Alps from Marlborough to Milford Sound - causes quakes of around magnitude 8. Intervals of past earthquakes along the fault suggest that a major earthquake may hit in the next few decades.

In the Pacific -
Tropical storm 07w (Doksuri) was located approximately 212 nm southeast of Hong Kong.

Tropical Storm Debby - Florida officials said Thursday that Tropical Storm Debby was responsible for seven deaths in the state. Debby hovered in the Gulf of Mexico for days before slowly blowing across northern Florida. "Drought Buster Debby" could be the more appropriate name for the sloppy weather that engulfed much Florida this week.That's what Tropical Storm Debby did — brought a dramatic end to a bone-dry state. Although flooding from Tropical Storm Debby has made things difficult for electric companies fighting to restore power to thousands of customers. The remnants of Tropical Cyclone Debby are tracking well-away from the U.S.
Tropical Storm Debby left behind plenty of sinkholes - More sinkholes caused by Tropical Storm Debby have been discovered, including several that popped up on a golf course in Marion County earlier this week.


India - Almost one million people have been forced to leave their homes by floods in India as torrential rains lash the north-eastern state of Assam. At least 27 people have died in flood-related incidents, five of them drowning after their boat sank in a swollen river. Twenty-one of 27 districts have been inundated by flood waters. Heavy monsoon rains have been battering Assam for the past fortnight.
Around 900,000 people had been displaced from their homes due to the flooding, and most of them had taken shelter on higher ground and tents. This is THE WORST FLOOD IN THE STATE SINCE 1998. All the major rivers, including the main Brahmaputra, were "running menacingly high with breaches reported in many places". In neighbouring Bangladesh heavy rains and multiple landslides have killed over 100 people.


U.S. - Extreme heat roasts Central Plains, heads east next. Temperatures soared toward and above 100 degrees in many Central Plains states on Wednesday, creating dangerous conditions that are expanding eastward.
In Alabama, the National Weather Service in Mobile forecasts near-record levels or record level temperatures, including a record-breaking 101 degrees for Saturday, which trumps the 100-degree record set in 1998. In Missouri, there is an elevated fire danger from Thursday through Saturday because of the heat combined with current drought conditions. The dry weather for the past two months means that grasses and brush can burn easily. In Illinois, the Chicago suburbs were under a heat advisory Thursday, with forecasted high temperatures expected to reach a record-breaking 100-degrees-plus. In Colorado, Greeley broke a heat record Sunday topping out at 107 degrees. The previous record was 102 degrees.
The raging Colorado wildfire that forced tens of thousands to flee has left at least one person dead and has destroyed an estimated 346 homes this week, making it THE MOST DESTRUCTIVE FIRE IN THE STATE'S HISTORY. The remains of one person were found in a home where two people had been reported missing. From above, the fire's destruction is painfully clear: Rows and rows of houses were reduced to smoldering ashes even as some homes just feet away survived largely intact. On one street, all but three houses had burned to their foundations.
The aerial photos showing the scope of one of the worst fires to hit the American West in decades did little to help ease the concerns of many residents who still did not know the fate of homes. Amid the devastation in the foothills of Colorado Springs, there were hopeful signs. Flames advancing on the U.S. Air Force Academy were stopped and cooler conditions could help slow the fire. The fire was 15 percent contained Thursday night. The cost of fighting the blaze had already reached $3.2 million.
A fire in northern Colorado, which was still burning, destroyed 257 homes and until Thursday was the most destructive in state history. More than 30,000 people frantically packed up belongings Tuesday night as the flames swept through their neighborhoods. Community officials were planning to begin the process of notifying residents Thursday that their homes were destroyed. For many residents, the official notification was a formality. Residents recognized their streets on aerial pictures and carefully scrutinized the images to determine the damage. Conditions were still too dicey to allow authorities to begin trying to figure out what sparked the blaze that has raged for much of the week and already burned more than 26 square miles. The weather forecast offered some optimism for firefighters to make progress, with the temperature expected to reach into the mid-80s — about 5 degrees cooler than Wednesday — and humidity at 15 to 20 percent, about 5 points higher. Winds were forecast to be 10 to 15 mph.
Among the fires elsewhere in the West:
- A 72-square-mile wildfire in central Utah has destroyed at least 56 structures and continues to burn with just 20 percent containment. Officials expected the damage estimate to rise as they continue their assessment.
- A smaller fire near St. George, Utah, started Wednesday and had grown to 2,000 acres by midnight, forcing some residents to evacuate. The fire was burning about three miles north of Zion National Park. At least eight structures were destroyed.
- Fire crews in southeastern Montana used a break in the weather to dig containment lines around two wildfires that have burned 200 square miles and dozens of homes. The improved conditions led to residents clamoring to be let back in to check their properties and assess the damage, but authorities kept evacuation orders in place for hundreds of people.
- A wildfire in the Bridger-Teton National Forest has grown from about 12,000 acres to 23,000 acres, or nearly 36 square miles.
- In northern Colorado, about 1,900 people were allowed back into their homes Thursday, more than two weeks after the High Park Fire erupted. The blaze was 85 percent contained. The 257 homes it destroyed was a state record until that figure was eclipsed by the Colorado Springs fire.
Meanwhile, an erratic wildfire gaining steam in western Colorado prompted officials to evacuate homes of about 50 residents south of De Beque as the 10,000-acre blaze threatened to cross Interstate 70 Thursday night.
Drought threatens US food prices - A drought in the Midwest has pushed the price of a bushel of corn up about 27 percent in the past month alone and threatens a wide range of food prices. U.S. corn soared to a nine-month high on Wednesday to post the biggest three-day gain since 2010 as severe drought and triple-digit temperatures linger. The drought may eventually rival a 1988 US scorcher that cost $78 Billion.
Drought-stricken cattle ranchers in Wyoming are looking to surrounding states for grazing land, and their best bet might be North Dakota.
US East Coast a "hot spot" for sea level rise - Climate change is causing higher sea levels around the world, as land-based glaciers like those on Greenland melt and slide into the oceans. The sea level in the Northeastern US is rising more than three times faster than anywhere else.

North, South Korea face record-setting drought - Parts of both Koreas are experiencing THE MOST SEVERE DROUGHT SINCE RECORD-KEEPING BEGAN NEARLY 105 YEARS AGO. The early summer rains have yet to arrive and the UNPRECEDENTED drought may have already led to 20,000 deaths. Mountainous North Korea, where less than 20 percent of the land is arable, has relied on outside food aid to help make up for a series of chronic shortages. North Korea has dispatched soldiers to pour buckets of water on parched fields.

Europe's cities plan to combat mounting climate risk - European cities are leading their international peer group in various areas of climate change and they are planning to adapt to climate change as the risks become more severe. Cities increasingly have to plan flood defenses, ways to manage water in times of drought, ensure new buildings provide natural cooling to occupants and adapt old buildings and infrastructure to become more energy efficient.
A survey found that 17 European cities out of the 22 surveyed, or 77 percent, have completed or almost completed risk assessments to understand how climate change will affect them. Eighteen of the 22 European cities said they face "significant risks" arising from climate change and 54 percent of them see these risks as "severe" or "very severe". Due to these risks, cities are increasingly looking at developing adaptation plans. Fourteen European cities, or 64 percent of the 22 surveyed, already have an adaptation plan in place while two more are currently developing them. "European cities are demonstrating leadership and best practice in managing climate change at the local level. The report shows that other cities can benefit by implementing similar strategies, like annual measurement and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions."
Global carbon dioxide emissions, one of the main greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, HIT A RECORD HIGH LAST YEAR, according to the International Energy Agency. Eighty-six percent of the European cities surveyed have set a city-wide emissions reduction target, compared to a global average of 70 percent of cities. Based on the latest data given by four cities to CDP, London's emissions fell 3.6 percent in 2010 from 2008 and Copenhagen's dropped 5.2 percent in 2010 from 2009. Berlin's emissions rose 4.1 percent in 2008 from 2007 and Rotterdam's grew by 6 percent in 2010 from 2009. "Population growth, economic activity, weather patterns, and other factors that are outside the city government's direct control can make it difficult, if not impossible, to show steady reductions in emissions."
European cities are also becoming more aware of the economic opportunities from climate change. Thirteen of the cities surveyed, or 59 percent, think that tackling climate change will develop new business industries in their cities. Some cities - like Helsinki and Berlin - are using voluntary agreements with the private sector to strengthen their cities' climate protection goals.

In a speech Wednesday, ExxonMobil's CEO addressed three major energy issues: Climate change, oil and gas drilling pollution, and energy dependence. He said the fears about all three are overblown. He acknowledged that burning fossil fuels causes climate change, but he said that government policy should focus on adapting to climate change - that global poverty is more pressing than climate change and the poor would benefit from fossil fuel access. He believes that climate change is manageable. "We'll adapt."