From yesterday's Times: you know how global warming is "just a theory?" Not anymore.
The results are in for meteorologcial summer 2016, and it was, in fact, really warm and soggy in Illinois. Chicago's average temperature of 23.5°C was 1.4°C above the 1980-2010 normal. That period was the warmest in history, however, so the summer that just ended Wednesday was Chicago's 18th warmest in recorded history, putting it at the 88th percentile.
Did I mention wet? For June through August, we got 338.8 mm of precipitation, a damp 32.8 mm above normal—not a record, but still very squishy.
Oh, wait—we did hit a record after all. Illinois' statewide average 175.0 mm of precipitation in August, and 349.0 mm for July and August combined, were both the wettest such periods in recorded Illinois history.
Combine the humidity that produced all that precipitation with the above-normal heat and this past summer was uncomfortable.
September, however, has been delightful. The Tribune reports that yesterday Chicago had 100% of its possible sunshine for the first time since June 21st, and we may have an entire weekend—3 days in a row—for the first time since November 10th.
Day two of Certified Scrum Master training starts in just a few minutes (more on that later), so I've queued up a bunch of articles to read this weekend:
Training begins again...
So says New Republic writer Bill McKibben:
We’re used to war as metaphor: the war on poverty, the war on drugs, the war on cancer. Usually this is just a rhetorical device, a way of saying, “We need to focus our attention and marshal our forces to fix something we don’t like.” But this is no metaphor. By most of the ways we measure wars, climate change is the real deal: Carbon and methane are seizing physical territory, sowing havoc and panic, racking up casualties, and even destabilizing governments. (Over the past few years, record-setting droughts have helped undermine the brutal strongman of Syria and fuel the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria.) It’s not that global warming is like a world war. It is a world war. Its first victims, ironically, are those who have done the least to cause the crisis. But it’s a world war aimed at us all. And if we lose, we will be as decimated and helpless as the losers in every conflict--except that this time, there will be no winners, and no end to the planetwide occupation that follows.
The question is not, are we in a world war? The question is, will we fight back? And if we do, can we actually defeat an enemy as powerful and inexorable as the laws of physics?
Meanwhile, scientists are saying that only about 30 major cities will remain cool enough to host the 2088 Olympics:
[Kirk Smith, a professor of global environmental health at University of California, Berkeley] and his colleagues looked the climate conditions of 645 cities in the Northern Hemisphere that are eligible to host the Olympics. Cities that had fewer than 600,000 in population were excluded, as were those that exceeded 1,600 meters (or roughly 5,250 feet) in elevation. They used data from two standard climate models to calculate the temperatures and humidity of those cities over the next century, assuming the levels of greenhouse gas emissions would remain high. With those numbers, they then estimated each city’s wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT), a measure of heat stress that takes into account temperature, humidity, heat radiation, and wind.
Cities are considered to be of high to medium risk if their WBGTs exceed 26 degree Celsius (or 78.8 degree Fahrenheit), which the researchers say is the maximum temperature to safely hold marathons, considered by some to be the most demanding events in the Olympics. (That’s actually a conservative measure; a 2010 study put the temperature threshold of risky marathons at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Another analysis, based on data from more than 2 million marathoners, found the ideal temperature to be as low as 40 to 50 degrees.)
London and San Francisco meet the grade. Chicago is "medium risk." No cities in South America or Africa will be "low risk" by then.
Attention flat-earthers: you can't simultaneously believe in GPS and that the earth is a disk covered by the dome of Heaven. Maps of Australia are the latest casualty in the war between evidence and...well, flat-earthers:
The Australian Plate is moving about 7 centimeters (2.8 inches) northwards every single year. This motion has accumulated over the decades to produce a significant discrepancy between local coordinates on maps and global coordinates in digital navigation systems used by satellites.
At present, this difference amounts to an error of 1.5 meters (4.9 feet). This is enough to cause a problem to anything in Australia that uses GPS-like systems, including smartphones and vehicles.
"If you want to start using driverless cars, accurate map information is fundamental," Dan Jaksa, a member of Geoscience Australia, told BBC News. “We have tractors in Australia starting to go around farms without a driver, and if the information about the farm doesn't line up with the coordinates coming out of the navigation system there will be problems.”
This is yet another instance where, for whatever reason, people whose religious beliefs encounter their direct economic interests seem to make allowances for science.
Next thing you know, insurance companies will start charging more to cover property close to sea level. Oh wait...
Much of the central U.S. is bracing for the worst heat wave since 2013:
Temperatures [in Chicago] Thursday are expected to reach 34°C and 37°C on Friday, with humidity levels creating a heat index that feels more like 38-42°C, according to Kevin Donofrio, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
The heat wave will continue through the weekend, with temperatures only a few digits lower during the day Saturday and Sunday and remaining around 25°C and even 28-29°C overnight, Donofrio said. Temperatures are expected to drop early next week.
It's already starting. I'm heading to Wrigley Field in a couple of hours, and the temperature has already hit 30°C at O'Hare with a heat index of 31.6°C.
WGN has an informative graphic explaining why this is happening.
For a couple of odd timing reasons, this is my first full 5-day week at my new job...and it's already a 5½-day week. So I've barely enough time to jot these articles down for future reading:
Have fun. I'll catch up to these in a day or two.
May was the 13th month in a row that had record heat globally; June will likely be the 14th. In fact, the entire continental U.S. had above-average temperatures last month, which is a first:
If last month, while excreting rivulets of moisture like a ham in the oven, you found yourself thinking, This is crazy hot—you weren’t wrong. It was the warmest June in the U.S. since records began in the late 1800s, surpassing 2015’s historically scorching June and perhaps adding to the world’s never-before-recorded streak of incredible heat.
The 22.1°C average temperature for the Lower 48 was more than 2°C above the historic norm, according to NOAA. It beat out the previous record-holder of 22.0°C in 1933, and made 2016’s year-to-date temperature the third-warmest in known U.S. history.
Aside from being alarmingly hot, June also marked the month in which 31 major U.S. scientific institutions warned Congress in a consensus letter that “climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary drive.”
And here we go, whistling past the graveyard...
As the election gets closer, we need to remember that climate change is real and will affect hundreds of millions of people in the next few decades—despite what one of the candidates seems to think. Here's an article from The New Yorker back in December that puts the issue in stark relief:
To cope with its recurrent flooding, Miami Beach has already spent something like a hundred million dollars. It is planning on spending several hundred million more. Such efforts are, in [University of Miami's Geological Sciences chair Hal] Wanless’s view, so much money down the drain. Sooner or later—and probably sooner—the city will have too much water to deal with. Even before that happens, Wanless believes, insurers will stop selling policies on the luxury condos that line Biscayne Bay. Banks will stop writing mortgages.
The latest data from the Arctic, gathered by a pair of exquisitely sensitive satellites, show that in the past decade Greenland has been losing more ice each year. In August, NASA announced that, to supplement the satellites, it was launching a new monitoring program called—provocatively—Oceans Melting Greenland, or O.M.G. In November, researchers reported that, owing to the loss of an ice shelf off northeastern Greenland, a new “floodgate” on the ice sheet had opened. All told, Greenland’s ice holds enough water to raise global sea levels by twenty feet.
Against this backdrop, South Florida still stands out. The region has been called “ground zero when it comes to sea-level rise.” It has also been described as “the poster child for the impacts of climate change,” the “epicenter for studying the effects of sea-level rise,” a “disaster scenario,” and “the New Atlantis.” Of all the world’s cities, Miami ranks second in terms of assets vulnerable to rising seas—No. 1 is Guangzhou—and in terms of population it ranks fourth, after Guangzhou, Mumbai, and Shanghai. A recent report on storm surges in the United States listed four Florida cities among the eight most at risk. (On that list, Tampa came in at No. 1.) For the past several years, the daily high-water mark in the Miami area has been racing up at the rate of almost an inch a year, nearly ten times the rate of average global sea-level rise. It’s unclear exactly why this is happening, but it’s been speculated that it has to do with changes in ocean currents which are causing water to pile up along the coast. Talking about climate change in the Everglades this past Earth Day, President Obama said, “Nowhere is it going to have a bigger impact than here in South Florida.”
An interactive map the New York Times produced in 2012 should scare the bathing suits off Floridians, too.
The National Climate Prediction Center has released its outlooks for the next few months, and they look mixed for Chicago:
For the summer months of June, July, and August, the outlook for Illinois is [equal chances] for rainfall and an increased chance of being above-normal on temperatures. It is a rare combination in Illinois to have a warmer than normal summer without being drier than normal as well.
For September, October, November, southern Illinois has an increased chance of being drier than normal. This is part of a larger area of drier conditions in the South and Southwest. The rest of Illinois is EC. All of Illinois, and almost all of the US has an increased chance of being warmer than normal in the fall.
I haven't gone back to look at earlier predictions, but I think they've been pretty close this year.