SoCS: weather (and climate)

Whether you live in a city or a town or more rural area, weather always seems to be a topic of conversation.

For example, at my recent college reunion (which – shameless plug – you can read about here and here and here), we talked a lot about rain. Our commencement thirty-five years ago had had to be moved indoors due to rain, which limited attendance to only two people per graduate and caused all manner of disruption. (This was before the construction of the spacious indoor track and tennis facility that would now be used if weather forced a move indoors.) We have also had some remarkably rainy reunions. This year, we had lots of rain on Thursday and Friday, but Saturday was lovely for our parade, outdoor meeting, and evening illumination of campus.

Some people still confuse weather and climate, though, which is very frustrating. Yesterday, I posted about the US and the Paris climate agreement.  I have written a lot about climate over the years, which grew out of being a New York fracktivist. I and millions of other US climate activists will continue to do our part in accomplishing our country’s climate commitments and supporting other countries as they implement their own goals.

We need to protect our planet and people from the worst ravages of climate change and from one of its components, an increase in severe weather.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “whether/weather.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/06/02/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-june-317/

 

SoCS: coat

A lot of places in the US are under a coat of white from snow.

Not exactly a surprise in January, except that, while there is snow in places one expects, like Colorado, the Dakotas, and Vermont, but also in some places where it is more unusual, such as Alabama and the Carolinas. Seattle, Washington has also recently had snow.

Weirdly, we don’t have much here in the Binghamton, New York area.  While some parts of the state have had massive lake effect snows, the wind pattern is preventing them from reaching us here. The storm systems are coming up the coast and we are too far inland to get major amounts of snow from them.

Also weirdly, the cold and snow dipping into the Southern US are caused by the warming of the Arctic region.  This pushes the polar vortex south.

This weekend, we are having some of our coldest temperatures of the winter. I am pulling out the heavy coats.

Postscript: You can tell this is stream of consciousness because I misused a correlative conjunction and couldn’t go back and fix it.
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It’s a double dip! This post is both part of Linda’s Just Jot It January and Stream of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt is “coat.” Join us! Find out more here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/06/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-and-jusjojan-jan-717/

 

Stay safe!

This morning, I am thinking about all those facing severe weather. There is a blizzard approaching the mid-Atlantic region of the US. Seventy-five million people will be affected, including my sisters and their families and B’s brother and his family. The forecast calls for a large swath of 2-3 feet (0.75-0.95 meters) of snow coupled with strong winds.

I live further north where we will only catch a few inches, if anything at all.

I am also thinking of others in the United States and around the world who are suffering from floods, droughts, tornadoes, cyclones, mudslides, avalanches, dust storms, and all other weather disasters.

I wish everyone safety and and the swift arrival of whatever aid they need.
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Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! Start by visiting here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/22/just-jot-it-january-22nd-felicity/

JJJ 2016

To find the rules for Just Jot It January, click here and join in today.

Out like a llama?

In the Northeast US where I live, people often say that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. This year, March certainly did begin with cold weather.  Later in the month, we did get enough time above freezing that we had thawing so that we could see grass in sunny patches where the snow was not shoveled/plowed/piled up.

Today is March 31st and it is snowing and sticking to the grassy areas and accumulating, so March is not going out like a lamb. I am proposing that it is going out like a llama – still soft to the touch, but with a bit of spit and kick to it.

SoCS: field trip

My daugher T was scheduled to go to Dominica for ten days to do field work with her tropical ecology class. They were scheduled to leave Syracuse early Thursday morning to fly to Newark, the first of four legs to get them to the island. Because of the storm hitting the coast, the flight was cancelled Wednesday evening. The professors told them to stay tuned and the travel agents went to work to try to rebook. Unfortunately, the earliest that they could re-book the group was Wednesday, so the trip had to be cancelled. It was a major bummer, given that they spent the first half of the semester learning about the ecology there and prepping for the trip, including things like getting immunized for typhoid fever.

The silver lining for us is that T is now home for spring break. It’s nice for us and for her grandparents, who have been battling various maladies this winter.

And we are sure that T won’t contract typhus…

This post is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays. This week’s prompt is “go.”  Join us! Visit this link for rules:  http://lindaghill.com/2015/03/06/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-march-715/

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Typhoon to lake effect snow

Connecting the dots on climate change:

A Pacific tropical typhoon is so strong that it reaches the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and disrupts the jet stream, allowing polar air to sink over much of the continental United States. When the frigid air passes over the relatively warm water of the Great Lakes, it picks up a lot of moisture and dumps it over land as snow. Some towns in western New York south of Buffalo have already received 5+ feet of snow, with an additional 2-3 feet on the way. (That’s 1.5 meters or more on the ground with another meter to come.)

A similar occurrence could have happened in the past, some time before recorded history in the region. It isn’t possible to say that any particular weather event is directly caused by global warming, However, the incidence of these extreme kinds of weather is rising quickly along with average global temperature.

It’s time for everyone to get serious about phasing out fossil fuels as quickly as possible and ramping up renewable energy in conjunction with energy efficiency. If we see this much change with less than one degree Celsius global temperature rise, we will have to brace ourselves for more as we attempt to keep the total rise under two degrees Celsius.

Hawai’i and Climate Change

Hawai’i is the inhabited place that is most distant from any other inhabited place in the world. Because of its isolation, Hawai’i is home to more endemic species than anywhere else on earth. Endemic means that a species is found just in that one area and nowhere else on earth. In such a remote location in the middle of the Pacific, one is tempted to think that climate change won’t affect the islands, but that is a mistake. There is a reason that climate change often appears with the adjective “global” in front of it.

The ecosystems and microclimates of Hawai’i are already complicated, due to topography. There are dry leeward sides and wet windward sides. The height of some of the volcanoes creates an alpine ecosystem. The peak of Kaua’i is the wettest place on earth, averaging over 450 inches of rain a year, yet other areas are deserts. There are tropical, temperate, and dryland forests.

Yet, even here, the climate is changing noticeably. The trade winds are what keeps Hawai’i from being as hot and humid as one would expect at this latitude, yet more and more often the trade winds stop blowing. This creates longer periods of hot, humid weather, even when it isn’t summer. Most of our time in Honolulu, there was a heat wave, despite it being early May. The trades dying down exacerbates vog, which is smog caused by volcanic ash. Given that Kilauea has been erupting continuously, the airborne ash can travel to other islands and create air quality problems for them. When the trade winds die down, the ash levels build up and people with breathing difficulties suffer.

The native Hawaiians named only two seasons, the rainy season and the hot season. In our current terms, the rainy season was late fall through early spring, but, as we see in other parts of the world, weather tends to be more extreme, so the wet season tends to be wetter and longer, with more possibilities of thunderstorms, which had been very rare. Meanwhile, the hot season is hotter and can get much more humid when the trade winds die down, which is happening much more frequently than in the past.

The increased dryness of the dry ecosystems makes them more vulnerable to drought. When we were on the leeward side of the Big Island, there were many signs warning of extreme fire danger. Wildfire is especially dangerous in Hawai’i because the plants evolved there without that threat, so they are not adapted to survive or re-populate after it. The problem is made worse by invasive species, such as fountain grass which grows on relatively fresh lava flows, making them useless as natural fire breaks. When we visited Ka’upulehu , Wilds was telling us about some of the problems that climate change is causing for them in their mission to restore a native dryland forest, one of which was the need to maintain fire breaks around the perimeter to protect the native plants.

The people of Hawai’i are working to reduce their carbon footprint to help fight climate change. There are many more electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles here, along with public charging stations. Rooftop solar photovoltaics and hot water are common. There is a light rail system being built in Honolulu to alleviate wasted time and fuel on the highway. There is some utilization of geothermal power, as well.

I have already been trying to do my part to combat climate change and this trip makes those efforts seem that much more important. I hope you will join me in work toward energy efficiency and renewable energy for the sake of extraordinarily beautiful Hawai’i and the rest of the world.