56 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.
70 F. average high on May 18.
70 F. high temperature on May 18, 2016.

May 19, 1975: Strong winds cause over 2 million dollars of damage across Fridley, Mounds View and New Brighton.

Tornado Terminology You Need to Pay Attention To
The USA is on track for the busiest tornado year since 2011. That was the year Tuscaloosa and Joplin were hit. Why have we suddenly come out of a 5-year tornado drought? Two reasons: the same jet stream pattern that generated a stormy treadmill for the western USA created a wind shear profile ripe for tornadoes. Also, record warmth in the Gulf of Mexico has primed the pump with warmer, more unstable air.

If you hear of a PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) Tornado Watch issued nearby you want to pay very close attention. It means the atmosphere is locked & loaded for violent, long-track tornadoes. A “Tornado Emergency” is more dangerous than a Tornado Warning. It means a large, CONFIRMED tornado is moving into an urban area.

Severe weather season in Minnesota and Wisconsin usually peaks in June; the most severe T-storms are yet to come.

Clouds increase today with showers over southern Minnesota. Heavier rain arrives Saturday as a storm tracks from Des Moines to Duluth. Sunday looks like the drier day of the weekend with glimmers of sun by afternoon.

Expect 60s next week; 70s returning within a week as spring tries again.

Image above: AlabamaWX.com from May 2013 in the Oklahoma City area.

There’s a Storm Chaser Traffic Jam in Tornado Alley. The 3 times I’ve chased in Oklahoma I wasn’t too worried about the actual tornadoes, but rather the erratic, high-speed, rules-be-damned chasers who would have pushed their grandmothers under a speeding bus to get the money shot. As is often the case, a few bad apples ruin it for everyone else Here’s an excerpt from CNN: “..Chaser convergence not only creates a dangerous situation for the chasers, it can prevent first responders from quickly accessing victims of the tornado. I have witnessed ambulances unable to access roads because of the volume of traffic and cars not pulled completely to the side. Chaser convergence also impedes the work of the scientists trying to deploy their instruments in and around the path of the storm. Chris Weiss, a tornado researcher from Texas Tech University, told CNN of a recent encounter in May. “Our research group was coming into position to make measurements on a developing tornado in the Texas Panhandle but could not find any locations to park the radar, as all available vantage points were occupied with chaser traffic,” he said. “I am not suggesting that one group has a right to be there over another, but if asked whether science has been impacted at some level over the past few years, I would say yes...”

Photo credit: “Storm chaser convergence can cause backups for miles near dangerous storm systems.” JR Hehnly.

Don’t Plant Annuals Until After Father’s Day? I always mess this up – is it Mother’s Day or Father’s Day? Regardless, if you live on the Range, Duluth, even Sandstone or Spooner, your begonias are in grave danger.

Map credit: Aeris AMP.

Month’s Worth of Rain in 4 Days. At least for some communities, reports the Twin Cities National Weather Service: “This week has been very wet, and the latest precipitation totals (Ending 4 AM this morning) since last Monday has confirmed the excessive amounts over the Upper Midwest. Most of western and northern Wisconsin has received between 2 and 6 inches of rainfall, with locally higher amounts. Across Minnesota, totals range from over 6 inches in the southeast, to nearly an inch across the northwest. Localized amounts of 3 to 4 inches were common around the Twin Cities metro area. Although most of today will be dry with some showers early, another storm late Friday, and into the weekend will bring another round of heavy rainfall.”

Daily Rainfall Record on Wednesday. 1.81″ soaked the metro area, roughly 2 weeks worth of rain falling in one day.

Rainfall Amounts. NOAA has a detailed list of rainfall amounts here.

Flood Potential. As much as 2-4″ of rain this week has saturated soil and forced some streams and rivers over their banks. The best chance of rivers going over their banks is in Wisconsin, specifically the Trempealeau River at Dodge, and the Black River at Black River Falls. Details via NOAA.

Supercell Initiation. GOES-16 imagery from the College of DuPage (non-operational!) shows severe storms bubbling up along the dry-line yesterday; the prominent anvils were the tops of storms dropping tornadoes.

Enhanced Risk. Yesterday NOAA SPC issued a rare “high” severe threat. Although the risk may have diminished (slightly) the axis of severe weather potential moves over more heavily populated real estate today, from Wichita and Tulsa to Oklahoma City, Dallas and Abilene.

Quiet Coasts – Soggy and Severe Central USA. The pattern has flipped in roughly 1 week. Instead of lingering storms over the Pacific Northwest and New England we know have dry (warm) weather on both coasts with a trough of low pressure ejecting repeated storms over the central USA, creating a nagging tornado risk and flooding rains. Another system pushes heavy rain into the Upper Midwest Saturday. heavy snow over parts of Colorado and Wyoming begin to taper off by Friday night: 84-hour NAM: Tropicaltidbits.com.

Chilly Spell, Then Milder Next Week. Temperatures may not climb out of the 40s on Saturday over parts of central and northern Minnesota – a little wet snow could even mix in. Not knee-deep snow like Colorado, but enough to look out your window and let out a low whistle. 60s will feel like a revelation next week. MSP numbers: WeatherBell.

El Nino Again? This Is Why It’s Hard to Tell. Right now it’s even odds, according to a story at Climate Central: “The tropical Pacific Ocean is once again carrying on a will-it-or-won’t-it flirtation with an El Niño event, just a year after the demise of one of the strongest El Niños on record. The odds right now are about even for an El Niño to develop, frustrating forecasters stuck in the middle of what is called the spring predictability barrier. During this time, model forecasts aren’t as good as seeing into the future, in part because of the very nature of the El Niño cycle. The reason scientists try to forecast El Niño is because of the major, often damaging, shifts in weather it can cause around the world. The last one brought punishing drought to parts of Southeast Asia and Africa and torrential rains to parts of South America...”

Why So Many Tornadoes in 2017? After a 5 year tornado drought it’s been a very active year for nature’s most violent storm. My friend, NBC10 meteorologist Glenn Schwartz in Philadelphia, talks about the variables contributing to a hyperactive tornado season for the USA: “…There are several factors that could help explain that big increase. Weather patterns change all the time, so there can be big differences from year to year in the number of tornadoes. But one constant has been the record warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico. A southerly wind over warm waters leads to record warmth and humidity. Those are two of the ingredients in many tornado “outbreaks”-when large numbers of tornadoes hit in a single day or two. A common measure of the energy that can lead to severe storms is called CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy). A higher CAPE is an important ingredient. Here is a great graphic that shows how a warm Gulf leads to high CAPE values, which in turn can lead to an increase in tornadoes…”

Tornadoes and Manufactured Housing: A Bad Mix. In light of the deadly Chetek, Wisconsin tornado I reviewed Minnesota’s regulations. Manufactured home parks with 10 or more homes, licensed after March 1, 1988, must provide a storm shelter within the park. But parks licensed prior to March 1, 1988, must provide either a shelter on the premises -or- evacuation plans to a storm shelter close to the park. “Storm shelters are expensive!” So are brakes, but car manufacturers still include them with every purchase. When tornadoes hit these manufactured home parks damage is extensive. 44 percent of the 1,091 Americans killed by tornadoes from 1985 to 2005 died in mobile homes. Details here.

Drone Footage of Barron County Tornado. This is pretty amazing, courtesy of YouTube and Branden Bodendorfer. “On May 16th, 2017, a tornado ripped through Barron County. Among it’s path was a trailer park, a turkey farm and many residential homes along the lake.”

Concerned Phone Call Saves One Wisconsin Family From Tornado. WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee has the details: “A Barron County tornado survivor says a phone call from his dad is the reason he, his fiancé and their unborn baby were still alive Wednesday. Many in the Chetek, Wis. mobile home park hit with a tornado this week said they heard bad weather was on its way, but one man said he didn’t take it seriously that a tornado was coming until it was almost too late. “I kinda blew it off not knowing the severity of the situation,” said Ronnie Bloomberg. But his dad didn’t. “My dad called me and said, ‘Ronnie, you gotta get outta there’,” Bloomberg said…”

Despite Tornado Threat, Shelters Rare for Mobile Home Parks. Here’s an excerpt of a story at News OK published back in January which seems even more timely today: “…According to the National Weather Service, 44 percent of the 1,091 Americans killed by tornadoes from 1985 to 2005 died in mobile homes, compared to 25 percent in stick-built homes. That’s especially significant considering how few Americans — 8 percent or fewer — lived in mobile homes during that period. Over the weekend, an unusual midwinter outbreak of dozens of tornadoes shredded two mobile home parks that didn’t have shelters in southwest Georgia. Three people were killed at Big Pine Estates in Albany and seven died at Sunrise Acres in rural Cook County. For most of the U.S., installing storm shelters remains a voluntary decision whether they’re for a private home, a mobile home park or a community center. Alabama and Illinois have laws mandating that new public schools are built with storm shelters, and Minnesota requires shelters at mobile home parks with spaces for 10 or more homes built since 1988…”

Tornado Shelters and Minnesota Manufactured Home Parks. I had some questions in light of the Chetek, Wisconsin tornado. What is required in Minnesota? Here’s an excerpt from Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson’s office: “…Storm shelters or evacuation plans provide residents with access to safe shelter in cases of bad weather. Storm shelter plans vary depending on the size of a park and when the park was originally licensed. Parks with fewer than ten homes must provide either a shelter on the premises or a plan for evacuation to a nearby shelter. The plan or shelter should be developed with the assistance and approval of the park’s local municipality. Parks with ten or more homes, licensed prior to March 1, 1988, must provide either a shelter on the premises, or evacuation plans to a storm shelter close to the park. The shelter or evacuation plan must have been approved by the park’s local municipality by March 1, 1989, and a copy submitted to the Department of Health. The park owner must give all residents a copy of the evacuation or shelter plan. Parks with ten or more homes, licensed after March 1, 1988, must provide a storm shelter within the park. Shelters constructed after March 1, 1988, must comply with the state building code. The Department of Labor and Industry enforces the state’s building code and has jurisdiction over the proper construction of storm shelters. The Department of Health has jurisdiction over whether the shelter or shelter plan is adequate to meet the needs of park residents...”

Tornado Casualties Depend More on Storm Energy than Population. Eos has a fascinating story: “…Armed with these two measurements and the published casualty counts for each of the tornadoes in their sample, Fricker and his colleagues investigated how casualties scaled with storm energy and the size of the nearby population. The scientists found that storm energy was a better predictor of the number of storm-related injuries and deaths: Doubling the energy of a tornado resulted in 33% more casualties, but doubling the population of a tornado-prone area resulted in only 21% more casualties. These results, which the team reported last month in Geophysical Research Letters, can inform emergency planning, the team suggests. The relatively larger impact of tornado energy on casualties might be cause for concern, Fricker and his colleagues note. If climate change is triggering more powerful tornadoes, an idea that’s been suggested and debated, emergency managers might have to contend with larger casualty counts in the future. But scientists are by no means certain that larger tornadoes are imminent. “There is no doubt climate change is influencing hazards, but for tornadoes, we just simply don’t know to what extent yet,” said Stephen Strader, a geographer at Villanova University in Villanova, Pa., not involved in the study…”

Photo credit: “A scene of destruction in Concord, Ala., after the 2011 Tuscaloosa–Birmingham tornado caused more than 1500 injuries. A new study indicates that storm intensity is a better predictor of casualty counts than the size of the local population.” Credit: National Weather Service

What Causes a Heat Burst? The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls explains the meteorology behind Tuesday morning’s storm-driven surge of heat, wind (and dirt): When a thunderstorm is mature, warm and moist air rises into the storm. As the air rises, water drops (and ice crystals) form within the clouds which then fall out as heavy rain. With heavy rain falling, the air beneath the cloud is cooled due to evaporation. As a result, the air at the surface is typically cooler than the warm and moist air ahead of the thunderstorm. As the thunderstorm weakens, rainfall decreases.  In most cases, when there is warm and moist air in the lowest 5000 feet of the atmosphere, the wind will decrease as the storm weakens and rain no longer reaches the surface.  However, when there is very dry air below the cloud base, as occurred last night (see below), then evaporation continues below the cloud base. Where rain is evaporating, the colder air, which is denser than the air around it, will continue to accelerate toward the surface.  Once the rain completely evaporates, the air will begin to warm more quickly as it approaches the surface.  As it reaches the surface, the air is actually warmer and drier than the air ahead the storm.”

New Project Uses Satellites for Rapid Assessment of Flood Response Costs. Here are a couple excerpts from The World Bank: “High-risk areas for natural disasters are home to 5 billion out of the 7 billion total people on our planet. Overall global losses from natural disasters such as floods, landslides or earthquakes amount to about $300 billion annually. A rapid and early response is key to immediately address the loss of human life, property, infrastructure and business activity…Financed by the Rockefeller Foundation, this World Bank Group’s Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance Program (DRFIP) and Columbia University’s Earth Institute joint project aims to define an operational framework for the rapid assessment of flood response costs on a national scale.  Bangladesh and Thailand serve as the initial demonstration cases, which will be expanded to other Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam...”

New Report Reveals World’s Deadliest Tornado, Lightning, Tropical Cyclone and Hailstorm. Here’s a clip from an interesting post by Dr. Marshall Shepherd at Forbes: “…The in-depth analysis of mortality records for 5 specific events produced the following list (taken directly from the WMO press release).

“Highest mortality associated with a tropical cyclone, an estimated 300,000 people killed directly as result of the passage of a tropical cyclone through Bangladesh (at time of incident, East Pakistan) on Nov. 12-13, 1970………..Highest mortality associated with a tornado, an estimated 1,300 people killed by the April 26, 1989 tornado that destroyed the Manikganj district, Bangladesh…………Highest mortality (indirect strike) associated with lightning, 469 people killed in a lightning-caused oil tank fire in Dronka, Egypt, on Nov. 2, 1994……….Highest mortality directly associated with a single lightning flash, 21 people killed by a single stroke of lightning in a hut in Manyika Tribal Trust Lands in Zimbabwe (at the time of incident, Rhodesia) on Dec. 23, 1975……….Highest mortality associated with a hailstorm, 246 people were killed near Moradabad, India, on April 30, 1888, with hailstones as large as “goose eggs and oranges and cricket balls.”

I observe a couple of revealing things about the record-setting events. First, they all happened before 1994...”

Image credit: “A 3-D view of thunderstorm tops based on radar reflectivity day from GPM’s Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) is shown here. DPR (Ku band) radar data were used in this simulated cross section through storm tops associated with tropical storm Komen. Some of the thunderstorms in the intense feeder band over the Bay Of Bengal were measured by GPM’s radar reaching heights above 15.9 km (9.9 miles).” (Caption from NASA)

World to Tackle Deadly Disasters at U.N. Forum. Here are a few statistics in a recent Thomson Reuters Foundation article that made me do a double-take:

  • The number of weather and climate-related disasters more than doubled over the past 40 years, accounting for 6,392 events in the 20 years from 1996 to 2015, up from 3,017 in the period from 1976 to 1995.
  • Of the 1.35 million people killed by natural hazards from 1996 to 2015, 90 percent died in low and middle-income countries, according to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, which collects the data.
  • Over those two decades, 56 percent of deaths were caused by earthquakes and tsunamis, with the rest due to floods, storms, extreme temperatures, drought, landslides and wildfires.
  • In 15 of the 20 years, the greatest loss of life was due to extreme weather events…”

Photo credit: Climate Nexus.

The Great American Eclipse is 100 Days Away, and Scientists are Ready. The Hartford Courant has a good overview: “This summer, darkness will fall across the face of America. Birds will stop singing. Temperatures will drop. Stars will become visible in the daytime sky. In about 100 days, a total solar eclipse will sweep across the continental United States for the first time since 1918. Astronomers are calling it the Great American Eclipse. For the amateur sky-watcher, a total eclipse presents a rare opportunity to witness a cosmic hiccup in our day-night cycle. For solar astronomers, however, the eclipse offers something else: three minutes (give or take) to collect as much data as possible about the sun’s usually hidden outer atmosphere. Researchers have been anticipating the event for years…”

Photo credit: “Williams College astronomer Jay Pasachoff prepares for a solar eclipse in Argentine Patagonia in February. He plans to observe this summer’s total eclipse from western Oregon.” (Photo courtesy of Jay Pasachoff).

Iowa Senator Slams Energy Chief for Grid Study Undermining Wind Energy. Here’s an excerpt at Reuters: “Iowa’s Republican senator on Wednesday raised concerns that U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has commissioned a “hastily developed” study of the reliability of the electric grid that appears “geared to undermine” the wind energy industry. In a letter sent to Perry, Senator Chuck Grassley asked a series of questions about the 60-day study he commissioned. Grassley also said the results were pre-determined and would show that intermittent energy sources like wind make the grid unstable. Last month, Perry ordered the grid study and said Obama-era policies offering incentives for the deployment of renewable energy had come at the expense of energy sources like coal and nuclear...”

Photo credit: “U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) speaks to reporters after the weekly Republican caucus policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. April 4, 2017.” REUTERS/Eric Thayer.

Minnesota Leads the Midwest in Clean Energy Report. Here’s the intro to a story at Midwest Energy News: “While Northeast and West Coast states led a recent clean energy ranking of U.S. states, recent advances helped push Minnesota into the top ten. Minnesota ranked 9th in Clean Edge’s eighth annual U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index, the only Midwest state in the top ten. Illinois and Michigan ranked 11th and 13th respectively, while the remaining Midwest states were in the bottom half of the rankings. “Like every region, the states in the Midwest have their strengths and weaknesses,” said Andrew Rector, market analyst for Clean Edge. Michigan has a good record of venture capital patents, a legacy of having Detroit and its expertise in patent law, while Illinois is a national leader in green buildings and has a strong venture capital market, Rector said...”

Map credit: “This map shows state rankings in the recent U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index.” (image via Clean Edge)

The Big Green Bang: How Renewable Energy Became Unstoppable. Clean energy disruption is now well underway, says Financial Times: “…Mr Robson’s experience is just one example of the disruptive impact of green energy on companies — and entire industries — around the world. After years of hype and false starts, the shift to clean power has begun to accelerate at a pace that has taken the most experienced experts by surprise. Even leaders in the oil and gas sector have been forced to confront an existential question: will the 21st century be the last one for fossil fuels? It is early, but the evidence is mounting. Wind and solar parks are being built at unprecedented rates, threatening the business models of established power companies. Electric cars that were hard to even buy eight years ago are selling at an exponential rate, in the process driving down the price of batteries that hold the key to unleashing new levels of green growth…”

Graphic source: International Renewable Energy Agency.

Automakers Are Betting on Hydrogen-Powered Cars. Here Are 12 In The Works. Business Insider takes a look at alternatives to EV’s and hybrids: “Automakers are lining up to invest in hydrogen-powered vehicles, even though the big bucks are still being spent on battery-powered cars. From an infrastructure standpoint, purely electric vehicles make more sense. There are 15,959 electric charging stations in the United States, but only 35 hydrogen stations in the entire US, according to the US Department of Energy. Of those 35 hydrogen stations, only 3 can be found outside of California. But car makers still see potential in hydrogen technology. Batteries are expensive, take a long time to charge, and have limitations when it comes to driving range. Hydrogen-powered vehicles, on the other hand, have longer ranges and offer short re-fill times…”

Photo credit: “The Clarity costs $369 months for 36 months with $2,868 due at signing.” Business Insider/Danielle Muoio.

The Greenest Hotel in America? After reading an article at The Washington Post I want to check out Greensboro, North Carolina and visit Proximity Hotel: “…One of the first sights that greet guests as they turn in to an otherwise nondescript office park off Green Valley Road are the 100 solar panels perched atop the handsome hotel, which from afar looks like an old textile warehouse lovingly brought back to life. Visitors with low-emitting, fuel-efficient vehicles can pull into a preferred parking spot closer to the front entrance, where a U.S. Green Building Council seal proclaims the hotel’s status as LEED Platinum — a rating reserved for the most energy­efficient of buildings. (The Proximity became the first hotel in the United States to earn the distinction nearly a decade ago, and only a handful have earned it since.)…”

Photo credit: “The LEED Platinum-certified Proximity Hotel, in Greensboro, N.C., is topped with 100 solar panels.” (Courtesy QW Hotels, LLC)

Apple’s New Campus: A Look Inside the Mothership. The statistics are mind-boggling. Here’s an excerpt of a story at WIRED.com: “…They describe the level of attention devoted to every detail, the willingness to search the earth for the right materials, and the obstacles overcome to achieve perfection, all of which would make sense for an actual Apple consumer product, where production expenses could be amortized over millions of units. But the Ring is a 2.8-million-square-foot one-off, eight years in the making and with a customer base of 12,000. How can anyone justify this spectacular effort? “It’s frustrating to talk about this building in terms of absurd, large numbers,” Ive says. “It makes for an impressive statistic, but you don’t live in an impressive statistic. While it is a technical marvel to make glass at this scale, that’s not the achievement. The achievement is to make a building where so many people can connect and collaborate and walk and talk.” The value, he argues, is not what went into the building. It’s what will come out...”

Photo credit: Dan Winters.

LAX Opened a Private Terminal for the Rich and Famous. Here’s What It Looks Like. Wow, this sure sounds like my typical airport experience, as reported at Fortune: “Celebrities traveling in and out of Hollywood now have a little respite from the paparazzi and crowded security lines — a private airport terminal.The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Monday opened its “Private Suite” with a gate entrance away from traffic surrounding the airport. Members of the facility, which is the first of its kind in the country, get exclusive accommodations with a two-person daybed, a serviced food pantry, and their very own bathroom, before a BMW sedan drives them “Head-of-State style” across the tarmac to the aircraft, according to the Suite’s website...”

Your Art Degree Might Save You From Automation, an AI Expert Says. One word: creativity. It will take computers longer to develop the kind of unique creativity, the capacity to connect the dots differently, that humans are capable of. Here’s a clip from Quartz: “…Students now deciding whether to pursue arts or sciences face an uncertain future: While automation is just starting to impact the workforce, Lee believes that 50% of jobs held by humans today will be automated in 10 years, extrapolating from an often-cited 2013 Oxford study. Jobs that require “less than five seconds of thinking” will be among the first to disappear, Lee says. He offers receptionists and factory workers as examples, which have already faced some level of automation. Next will be jobs that rely on crunching numbers, where data is available to make decisions, like bankers, traders, and insurance adjusters...”

Woman Who Stole $15,000 Worth of Girl Scout Cookies Still On The Run. You can’t make this stuff up; here’s a clip from The Daily Beast: “Maybe she didn’t want to run out of Thin Mints. A Kentucky woman was indicted on charges for stealing more than $15,000 worth of Girl Scout cookies, reports the Lexington Herald Leader. The woman, Leah Ann Vick, was a 26-year-old Girl Scout troop leader for the Wilderness Road Chapter. Pike Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Bartley said Vick was indicted for a felony theft—over $10,000 but under $1,000,000...”

Terrifying Tornado Gives Couple a Proposal Story They’ll Never Forget. Wait, if a tornado was approaching I’d be down on one knee too. Digging a storm shelter. Here’s an excerpt at HuffPost: “A storm chaser in Texas used a terrifying tornado as the perfect backdrop to a proposal. Alex Bartholomew popped the question to girlfriend Britney Fox Cayton near McLean on Tuesday, as a twister struck the ground about a mile away. Fortunately, she said yes. Bartholomew shared photographs on Facebook of the couple’s epic engagement, with the tornado visible in the background. They are now going viral...”

TODAY: Clouds, few showers over southern Minnesota. Chilly. Winds: NE 8-13. High: 54

FRIDAY NIGHT: Clouds, risk of a shower. Low: 43

SATURDAY: Steadier, heavier rain. Cool and pretty foul. Winds: NE 10-15. High: 49

SUNDAY: Damp start, some PM clearing. Winds: W 10-20. Wake-up: 44. High: 57

MONDAY: Sunny start, pop up shower late? Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 47. High: 66

TUESDAY: More clouds than sun, cool breeze. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 45. High: 59

WEDNESDAY: Blue sky, getting better again. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 44. High: 67

THURSDAY: Partly sunny, feels like May. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 50. High: 71

Climate Stories…

Kansas Researchers Say Climate Change Will Deteriorate Midwest Water Quality. Here’s an excerpt from High Plains Public Radio: “…Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of these fluctuations between drought and flood, though, according to new research published by scientists at the University of Kansas, and this “weather whiplash” will deteriorate the quality of drinking water. Terry Loecke and Amy Burgin, co-authors of the study, examined a particular pollutant, nitrate. It is a nutrient for crops and is a common ingredient in fertilizer. “Drought tends to stop nutrients from entering our water systems,” says Loecke, who teaches environmental science. The nutrients accumulate in the soil when it is dry and, when heavy rain comes along, the nitrate that is not absorbed by plants as food is flushed into the water system...”

Glacier National Park May Need to be Renamed: Will Soon Have No Glaciers. Here are a couple of excerpts from a story at Fortune: “It is all but inevitable that the United States, apart from Alaska, will soon be missing the glaciers that have dotted our country for thousands of years. There is no other place that symbolizes America’s glaciers like Glacier National Park in Montana. However, recent studies present strong evidence that in the coming decades the park will have none of the glaciers from which the park is named after…A recent study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Portland State University looked at how the 39 named glaciers in the park have been impacted by warming temperatures over the recent decades. Since 1966 when monitoring began the glaciers have on average declined by 39% with some glaciers declining by as much as 85% of their previous extent. Glacier National Park’s melting glaciers are part of a global decline in continental glaciers since the 19th century. In the 19th century there were over 150 glaciers in this region, documented through historic photos and journals…”

Photo credits: “Before and after image of Alaska’s Muir Glacier. Left image taken in 1941, right image taken in 2014.”

Miles of Ice Collapsing Into the Sea. It’s all about unknown unknowns. If anything the rate of overall melting and sea level rise is happening faster than climate models have been predicting. The New York Times has the story: “…The acceleration is making some scientists fear that Antarctica’s ice sheet may have entered the early stages of an unstoppable disintegration. Because the collapse of vulnerable parts of the ice sheet could raise the sea level dramatically, the continued existence of the world’s great coastal cities — Miami, New York, Shanghai and many more — is tied to Antarctica’s fate. Four New York Times journalists joined a Columbia University team in Antarctica late last year to fly across the world’s largest chunk of floating ice in an American military cargo plane loaded with the latest scientific gear...”

Thanks to Global Warming, Antarctica Is Beginning to Turn Green. The Washington Post reports: “Researchers in Antarctica have discovered rapidly growing banks of mosses on the ice continent’s northern peninsula, providing striking evidence of climate change in the coldest and most remote parts of the planet. Amid the warming of the last 50 years, the scientists found two different species of mosses undergoing the equivalent of growth spurts, with mosses that once grew less than a millimeter per year now growing over 3 millimeters per year on average. “People will think of Antarctica quite rightly as a very icy place, but our work shows that parts of it are green, and are likely to be getting greener,” said Matthew Amesbury, a researcher with the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and lead author of the new study. “Even these relatively remote ecosystems, that people might think are relatively untouched by human kind, are showing the effects of human induced climate change...”

Photo credit: “Moss on Green Island.” (Matt Amesbury)

Go West Young Tree – Climate Change Moves Forests in Unexpected Direction. IFLScience takes a look at new research: “Climate change is shifting the forests of America in an unexpected direction. All over the world, global warming is causing ecosystems to move away from the equator or to higher altitudes, in search of favorable climatic conditions. However, in the eastern United States, even more tree species have shifted westward than north. Dr Songlin Fei of Purdue University examined an extensive database on the locations of 86 species over the past 30 years. Of these, 62 percent were found to be moving north, averaging around 20 kilometers (12 miles) a decade. This entirely expected shift was overshadowed by a more surprising one. In the same sample, 73 percent were moving west, at slightly faster rates, with most change happening at the leading edge...”

Photo credit: “These trees in the Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee, are in one of the areas experiencing some of the fastest westward movement of species in the U.S.” Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.

American Trees Are Moving West,  And No One Knows Why. With more perspective on the migration of tree species here’s an excerpt from The Atlantic: “…A new survey of how tree populations have shifted over the past three decades finds that this effect is already in action. But there’s a twist: Even more than moving poleward, trees are moving west. About three-quarters of tree species common to eastern American forests—including white oaks, sugar maples, and American hollies—have shifted their population center west since 1980. More than half of the species studied also moved northward during the same period. These results, among the first to use empirical data to look at how climate change is shaping eastern forests, were published in Science Advances on Wednesday…”

Sea Level Rise Will Double Coastal Flood Risk Worldwide. The Guardian explains: “Small but inevitable rises in sea level will double the frequency of severe coastal flooding in most of the world with dire consequences for major cities that sit on coastlines, according to scientists. The research takes in to account the large waves and storm surges that can tip gradually rising sea levels over the edge of coastal defences. Lower latitudes will be first affected, in a great swath through the tropics from Africa to South America and throughout south-east Asia, with Europe’s Atlantic coast and the west coast of the US not far behind. The most vulnerable places, including large cities in Brazil and Ivory Coast, and small Pacific islands, are expected to experience the doubling within a decade…”

Image credit: Sea level rise: Miami and Atlantic City fight to stay above water

Cicadas Emergy 4 Years Early and Scientists Wonder if Climate Change is Providing a Nudge. Here’s an excerpt from The Baltimore Sun: “Cicadas overwhelm tree branches across Maryland once every 17 years, like clockwork. But something — some suspect climate change — could be sounding their alarm clocks four years early. In recent days, the red-eyed, nugget-shaped insects have been spotted crawling out from beneath trees from Northern Virginia to Bel Air in large — though not overwhelming — numbers. The phenomenon is confusing entomologists who weren’t expecting to see many of the screeching insects in the region until 2021. Small numbers of cicadas can sometimes grow fast enough to emerge four years early. But there have been a thousand reports of cicadas up and down the Interstate 95 corridor in just the past two days, more than scientists expected…”

Image credit: “A periodical cicada dries out after emerging from its nymph skin in a backyard in Towson this week.” (Karen Jackson/Baltimore Sun).

Cicada Climate Confusion? The Washington Post has more perspective.

Experts Fear “Quiet Springs” as Songbirds Can’t Keep Up with Climate Change. Birders are passionate about their hobby, and many are noticing the changes, as reported at The Washington Post: “…But the danger of a silent spring, according to ecologists who study birds, did not evaporate with DDT. The looming threat is not chemical but a changing climate, in which spring begins increasingly earlier — or in rare cases, later — each year. “The rate at which birds are falling out of sync with their environment is almost certainly unsustainable,” ecologist Stephen J. Mayor told The Washington Post. Mayor, a postdoctoral researcher at University of Florida’s Florida Museum of Natural History, echoed Carson: “We can end up with these increasingly quiet springs.” Certain migratory songbirds can’t keep pace with the shifting start of spring, Mayor and his colleagues wrote in a Scientific Reports study published Monday…” (File images: Pinterest).

“Hands From the Sea”. Will our grand kids be able to explore Venice? Here’s an excerpt of a poignant post at getenergysmartnow.com: “…According to Halcyon Gallery, “The hands symbolise tools that can both destroy the world, but also have the capacity to save it. At once, the sculpture has both a noble air as well as an alarming one – the gesture being both gallant in appearing to hold up the building whilst also creating a sense of fear in highlighting the fragility of the building surrounded by water and the ebbing tide.”

Venice is a floating art city that has inspired cultures for centuries, but to continue to do so it needs the support of our generation and future ones, because it is threatened by climate change and time decay,’

Lorenzo Quinn, sculpter

Centimeter by centimeter, inexorably, sea-level rise is moving shorelines, devastating habitats,  laying waste to existing infrastructure and wreaking havoc on property values. These consequence command special attention for obvious reasons…”

New York Times’ Stephens Can’t See the Elephant in the Room on Climate Change. Cherry-pick enough data and you can prove anything to anyone, as Stephens has proven on the subject of climate change. Here’s an excerpt from The Guardian: “…Fortunately, some prominent Republicans have stepped up to engage in the climate policy debate. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham authored past climate legislation. 19 House Republicans have joined the Climate Solutions Caucus, 12 of whom just introduced The Climate Solutions Commission Act that would establish a commission to recommend economically viable climate policies. And a group of Republican elder statesmen on the Climate Leadership Council met with the White House to recommend support for a revenue-neutral carbon tax. However, while deserving of great praise and encouragement for their efforts, these climate realist Republican Party leaders are in the minority. The question is whether they can wrest control of the party away from the climate deniers and policy obstructionists before too much damage is done to the Earth’s climate and the future prospects of the GOP…”