Arctic ice growing again. 8th lowest minimum this year.

After a record warm winter in the Arctic last year leading to the lowest ice maximum, the ice melted at the slowest rate recorded,  leading to the 8th lowest ice minimum.

On Greenland the situation was quite different. It snowed and snowed, leading to the largest yearly ice gain recorded, which was quite a change from years and years of ice loss.

This year the ice gain started even earlier

Are these changes only temporary, or are they an early harbinger of the ice age to come?

New term for climate change in advance of Climate Week in NYC: “Existential threat”

The Climate Group Week in New York

attracts every Climate Change dork.

Global Governance bet.

“existential threat”

the Earth is not saved by more pork.

Thanks, Anthony Watts (wattsupwiththat.com) for pointing to this paper:

New climate risk classification created to account for potential ‘existential’ threats

Researchers identify a one-in-20 chance of temperature increase causing catastrophic damage or worse by 2050

From the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – SAN DIEGO

A new study evaluating models of future climate scenarios has led to the creation of the new risk categories “catastrophic” and “unknown” to characterize the range of threats posed by rapid global warming. Researchers propose that unknown risks imply existential threats to the survival of humanity.

Well Under 2 Degrees Celsius:
Fast Action Policies to Protect People and the Planet from Extreme Climate Change
Report of the Committee to Prevent Extreme Climate Change
Chairs:
V. Ramanathan, M. L. Molina, and D. Zaelke
Published September, 2017
Prominently and up front is a diagram that is supposed to explain everything:
 If we look at the last curve in dotted line they explain everything
BL (CI – 80% & C feedback). They explain that BL beans baseline (whatever baseline they mean is not explained). Then CI – 80%?

What does CI mean?

From the free encyclopedia: The term is usually used within the law enforcement world, where they are officially known as confidential or criminal informants (CI), and can often refer pejoratively to the supply of information without the consent of the other parties with the intent of malicious, personal or financial gain.

Well, that explains a lot, no need to understand the rest.

Major hurricanes hitting U.S. mainland and climate change.

Are the two hurricanes Harvey and Irma an indication of Global warming with stronger and more frequent hurricanes?

I think not. Let us look at all named major hurricanes hitting the U.S mainland since naming of hurricanes started.

1950 Easy, Fl; King, Fl

1951

1952

1953

1954 Hazel, NC, SC; Carol, RI.

1955

1956

1957 Audrey, La.

1958 Helene, NC.

1959 Gracie, SC.

1960 Donna, Fl.

1961 Carla, Tx.

1962

1963

1964 Hilda, La.

1965 Betsy, Fl, La.

1966

1967 Beulah, Tx.

1968

1969 Camille, La, Ms.

1970 Celia, Tx.

1971

1972

1973

1974 Carmen, La.

1975 Eloise, Fl.

1976

1977

1978

1979 Frederic, Al.

1980 Allen, Tx.

1981

1982

1983 Alicia, Tx.

1984

1985 Elena, Fl, Ms; Gloria, NY, NC.

1986

1987

1988

1989 Hugo, SC.

1990

1991

1992 Andrew, Fl, La.

1993 Emily, NC.

1994

1995 Opal, Fl.

1996 Fran, NC.

1997

1998

1999 Bret, Tx.

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004 Ivan, Al; Charlie, Fl; Ivan, Fl; Jeanne, Fl.

2005 Dennis, Wilma, Fl; Katrina, La, Ms; Rita, La.   “Hurricanes are going to be worse and more frequent”

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017 Harvey, Tx; Irma, Fl.           “I told you so!”

The energy in Hurricane Irma

The energy in Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma was enormous, the eye was up to 40 miles in diameter,  the hurricane center core was up to 140 miles wide, tropical storm winds reached 150 miles from the center, it rained up to 200 miles from the center and clouds covered the skies up to 350 miles from the center. The eye of the hurricane covered over 1000 square miles, hurricane winds covered 15,000 square miles, tropical storm winds covered up to 70,000 square miles, rains stretched out over 125,000 square miles and clouds affected up to 400,000 square miles.

A Hurricane takes energy from the ocean and releases it in the form of rain,  wind and radiation into space. We measure hurricanes in categories dependent on the sustainable winds, but the wind energy is so much less than water energy. Nowhere was that more evident than in the case of hurricane Harvey, where nearly all the damage was from rain.

Hurricane Irma was different. It had landfalls in the Caribbean as a category 5 hurricane. At landfall Irma generated about 8 million Megawatts  of wind energy or more than twice as much as world wide electrical energy produced, and Irma made landfall on small islands in the Caribbean, on Cuba, the Florida Keys, near Naples, Florida and once more north of Tampa.

The first landfall was on the little island of Barbuda,size 62 square miles. It has a population of 8000, the power of Irma killed one of the inhabitants and destroyed 90 percent of the buildings on the island. Irma did this using about one tenth of one percent of its wind energy! The Virgin Islands also got a direct hit and a dozen deaths occurred in the rest of the Caribbean.

The situation i Cuba was much different. Irma entered Cuba with 155 mph winds, grazed the coastal archipelago, slowed down to 6 mph forward progress, briefly made landfall on the mainland and exited with 130 mph winds. This 72 hour Cuban visit claimed (so far) 10 lives in Cuba, Cuba absorbed maybe 30 percent of the wind energy from Irma, about 2.5 million Megawatts of wind energy during 72 hours, or about 180 million  MWh, or about nine times more than the yearly power consumption in Cuba.

This is a lot of energy, but it is dwarfed by the energy released in the condensation of the water vapor in the form of rain. This is about 800 million Megawatts, and continued in the case of Irma for 11 days, nearly all of it returning to the ocean from which it was fed. This is about 500 times the worldwide electrical energy produced, and since lasted 11 days, that is the equivalent of about 15 years of worldwide electrical production. Priced at 6 cents per kilowatt-hour this comes to about 12 trillion dollars worth of electricity if it could be harnessed, but instead it is destructive in its path, but usually beneficial in its periphery, since many of the islands it passes over depends on the rain from the hurricanes for its supply of fresh water.

But that is not the only cooling Irma provided. When the Sun shines over water 90 percent of all the sun’s energy is absorbed. The hurricane cloud was large, up to 700 miles in diameter or 400,000 square miles. The sun’s rays has an incoming energy of about 400 Watts per square meter, and the clouds reflect about 90 percent of the sun’s rays back into space rather than getting absorbed in the ocean or over land. The cooling effect of the hurricane Irma from clouds was about 200 million megawatts during peak daytime, or about 1,200 million mWhours. This alone is more than sixty times the worldwide electricity production.

Of course this all pales in comparison when one realizes the sun reaches us with 1,500 trillion Megawatt-hours of solar energy per day, so we are still talking of less than one millionth of the energy we receive from the sun.

The different responses to hurricane Katrina and Harvey.

The hurricane Katrina was our costliest hurricane this far. Not the deadliest, that was the 1900 Galveston hurricane that killed 6 to 12,000 people. At that time it had passed through the Florida Strait as a tropical storm, so the Galveston people didn’t take it seriously, after all they had an 8 foot seawall. It entered as a category 4 hurricane, the storm surge was 15 feet, topped the seawall and wiped out the city like a tsunami.

I have always been fascinated by hurricanes, the enormous energy they disperse and how beautiful they appear from space. So  it was on Aug 27, 2005 that I watched the press conference with the Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco reassuring the people “I believe we are prepared,” she said in Jefferson Parish. “That’s the one thing that I’ve always been able to brag about.”

Though experts had warned it would take 48 hours to evacuate New Orleans, Blanco did not order a mandatory evacuation that Saturday.

“We’re going to pray that the impact will soften,” she said.

 

Later the same day in city Hall she is still trying to decide when or if to reverse flow on the highways, she has still no clue on how severe the situation is and refuses to hear the warnings from NHC that warned more or less that an unprecedented catastrophe is coming. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin agreed that he would take care of his people.

The next day the hurricane had grown to category 5 and everybody that could started to evacuate with or without an evacuation order, but it wasn’t until 20 hours before landfall that she ordered mandatory evacuation and reversed direction on all the exit highways. Everybody that could evacuate had already started, so the coaches were picked up by the hotels to evacuate the tourists. The traffic  jams were enormous since everybody tried to get out at the same time. They more or less knew the levies would be topped, but even then Mayor Nagin refused to use the school buses to evacuate. He claimed “My people will not be bused in  school buses, they deserve coaches.

The U.S. government begged repeatedly that the governor would call in  the national guard, but she refused. The Federal government considered calling in the U.S. military, but decided against it, since it is against the law unless the governor authorizes it.

It had landfall as a category 3 hurricane east of New Orleans so the major storm surge, 26 feet high, hit Mississippi and wiped out casinos and other structures at the coast, and hurricane winds affected an area the size of England. New Orleans was on the west side of the path, so New Orleans was spared an over topping of the levees. That is, until the next morning one levee gave way due to incorrect secured footing and New Orleans got flooded.

FEMA was still busy cleaning up from earlier hurricanes, so new people needed to be hired or transferred to other department, but to work for FEMA you needed at least 3 days extra of sensitivity training, so  FEMA paperwork got delayed another week.

There was plenty of blame to go around, but President Bush is still getting blamed for it.

Image result for hurricane Katrina

Not so with Hurricane Harvey. It also grew very rapidly from a tropical disturbance to a major hurricane and was still growing at landfall as a category 4 hurricane. It looked like it was going to get inland fast and follow the normal path and rain out while moving rapidly, but instead it got blocked by two high pressures and decided to stall after rainfall, move back into the gulf, picking up more rain and then rain out over Houston and surrounding areas. The wind damage and storm surge was normal for a category 4 hurricane, but the staying in place for a long time made it the rainiest hurricane ever hitting the U.S. mainland, with some areas around Houston getting over 50 inches of rain.

Yet the hurricane response has been nothing short of excellent. The Governor of Texas acted early in cooperation with the Federal Government to pre-stage national guard and supplies in conjunction with local government. But the thing that made the biggest difference has been the volunteer response from thousands of people with high clearance trucks and boats evacuating thousands of people. About he only thing going wrong was the mayor of Houston discouraging early evacuation when he knew the rains were going to be horrendous.

It is going to be the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, but without the volunteer response and excellent cooperation between all levels of government it could have been so much worse.

The American spirit is alive and well in Texas, as is the Trump leadership

Houston’s vulnerability to flooding is getting worse.

The pictures from Houston are horrific, with water, water everywhere and roads flooded in so many places that the only way to evacuate people is with boat.  But is it unprecedented? Here are photos of the flood of Dec 1935.

Houston is built on what was once swampland and river delta-land leading into Galveston bay.  Houston is now a concrete and asphalt jungle as seen in these photos

There have been many flood disasters in the Houston area, even dating to the mid-1800s when the population was very low. In December of 1935 a massive flood occurred in the downtown area as the water level height measured at Buffalo Bayou in Houston topped out at 54.4 feet.

By way of comparison, as of 6:30 a.m. this (Monday) morning, the water level in the same location is at 38 feet, which is still 16 feet lower than in 1935. But Buffalo Bayou is still rising.

Buffalo Bayou at low level.

Here is a map of Houston in 1940 and 2017. Green area is undisturbed land, red area is over 50% filled with buildings, asphalt or concrete. In these areas no water is absorbed into the ground.

The drying up of what was originally wetland leads

to a rapid sinking of the Houston area. See map of Harris County of which Houston is a part.

 

 

 

Most of Houston has dropped about 5 feet  since 1920, but near the bayou levels has dropped about 10 feet. It is not ocean rising, it is land sinking, since undisturbed land is not sinking.

Vulnerability to flooding will only get worse from now on.

The energy in Hurricane Harvey

A Hurricane takes energy from the ocean and releases it in the form of rain and wind. We measure hurricanes in categories dependent on the sustainable winds, but the wind energy is so much less than water energy. Nowhere is that more evident than in the case of hurricane Harvey. It had landfall as a category 4. At landfall Harvey generated about 6 million Megawatts  of energy or about twice as much as the world wide electrical energy produced, but it is reduced rapidly as Harvey is reduced to a tropical storm to less than a quarter of that.

This is a lot of energy, but it is dwarfed by the energy released in the condensation of the water vapor in the form of rain. This is about 800 million Megawatts, and continues in the case of Harvey for 6 days, since it got stuck near landfall and is constantly fed more energy from the ocean. This is about 250 times the worldwide electrical energy produced, and since Harvey lasts a week, that is the equivalent of about 4 years of worldwide electrical production.

The energy was generated by cooling the Mexican Gulf. Since it has been 14 years since the last major hurricane we were overripe for another major hurricane in the Gulf.

But that is not the only cooling Harvey provided. When the Sun shines over water 90 percent of all the sun’s energy is absorbed. The hurricane cloud is large, up to 500 miles in diameter or 200,000 square miles. The sun’s rays has an incoming energy of about 400 Watts per square meter, and the clouds reflect about 90 percent of the sun’s rays back into space rather than getting absorbed in the ocean or over land. The cooling effect of the hurricane Harvey from clouds is about 100 million megawatts during daytime  as long as the clouds exist. This alone is more than thirty times the worldwide electricity production.