Overcast with a bit of ground fog this early Tuesday on California’s north coast as we pass the halfway mark for 2014 — time flies, period.
Fun or not.
Although we’ve had some gorgeous weather here, another product of the times — a derechos — had formed in the US Midwest and last night churned across Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois and on into Michigan, flinging damaging “straight-line winds,” crazy hailstorms, heavy rain and tornadoes all over the place.
By now, not really big news as shit like this is happening at a fairly regular rate nowadays.
And as our air heats, most everything will go to shit.
(Illustration found here).
Of course, helping to heat that air is all that carbon being belched out into the environment — a new milestone of which.
Via Climate Central:
April fell first.
It lasted through May.
Now June will be the third month in a row with average carbon dioxide levels above 400 parts per million.
Atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas, which helps drive global warming, haven’t been this high in somewhere between 800,000 and 15 million years.
And while the 400 ppm mark is somewhat symbolic (as the increase in warming between 399 ppm and 400 ppm is small), it serves to show how much carbon dioxide has been put into the atmosphere since preindustrial times, when concentrations were around 280 ppm.
The increase in this and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has warmed Earth’s average temperature by 1.6°F since the beginning of the 20th century.
World leaders agreed at a UN summit in 2009 to limit warming to 3.6°F, but prominent climate scientists like James Hansen have said that amount of warming will still be too much.
While concentrations of CO2 have begun their seasonal decline from their May peak (which was just shy of 402 ppm), the daily averages have stayed consistently above 400 ppm.
With the month almost at an end, June’s average will be above 400 ppm
That means it will be the first time in recorded history with this many weeks in a row of such high atmospheric concentrations of CO2.
“It still feels a bit surreal now to be reporting concentrations over 400 ppm,” Ralph Keeling, who runs the monitoring program at Mauna Loa, told Climate Central after the April milestone.
“Even though it was pretty much inevitable that we would get to this point, it still takes some getting used to.”
(Keeling’s father, Charles, began the monitoring effort, and the graph showing the rise of CO2 over time is known as the Keeling Curve.)
No end in sight, of course.
Meanwhile, out here in California our drought continues unabated, and will only get worse. And the great hope coming from the Pacific Ocean seems to have petered out — the future looks even-more dry:
One hundred percent of California is in a severe drought, 77 percent is in an extreme drought and 33 percent is in an exceptional drought, according to a report released last week by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb.
“Those are remarkable numbers,” said Mark Svoboda, a climatologist and the center’s monitoring program leader.
The drought monitoring team in Lincoln has never seen an exceptional drought since it started keeping detailed data in 1999.
The D4 category — a foreboding maroon color on a California drought map — extends from Sacramento and the Bay Area through the Central Valley, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
Predictions for a much-anticipated wet 2014-15 winter are waning.
“The El Niño had a very promising, dramatic surge in January, February and March, but now as we enter summer, all of a sudden it is disappearing,” said climatologist Bill Patzert, looking up from a dozen satellite images on his computer screen at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena.
“The great wet hope is going to be the great wet disappointment.”
And all this fueled by our warming environment, as new research indicates — via Skeptical Science:
“In a nation that has been reeling from one weather or climate disaster to another, with record tornado outbreaks, landfalling tropical storms and superstorms, record winter snowfalls, and severe droughts, persistent droughts appear almost prosaic.
Droughts do not cause the mass loss of life and property destruction by floods and storms.
They are instead slow-moving disasters whose beginnings and ends are even often hard to identify.
However, while the social and financial costs of hurricane, tornado, and flood disasters are, of course, tremendous, droughts are one of the costliest of natural disasters in the United States.”
“The warming leads to a simulated long-term reduction in soil moisture which, although of weak magnitude compared to soil moisture deficits induced by naturally occurring droughts in the southwest United States, would imply that drought conditions may be entered more quickly and alleviated more slowly owing to long-term warming … Radiative forcing of the climate system is another source of predictability, although not really a welcome one, and rising greenhouse gases will lead to a steady drying of southwest North America.
However this is a change that is only now beginning to emerge and currently is exerting less influence on precipitation variability than ocean variability or internal variability.”
This year is only half finished…