El Niño, Wildfires and Potent Pot

May 22, 2015

MatsPetersson1Overcast with a slight-chilled wind this Friday afternoon on California’s north coast — woke up too early and seemingly a bit under the weather.

And the “super El Niño” reported a couple of weeks ago still seems to be on track, and with it not only an increase in the wildfire season for California, but the warming will likely also boost medicinal and psychoactive properties of cannabis — from the Daily Climate: ‘One prominent researcher who specializes in weed migration patterns in the face of climate change said marijuana grown outdoors will likely become stronger and require less water to thrive.’

Yet the cringe is still legality — Dr. David Bearman: ‘“The problem is related to its legal status. From 1854 until 1942, medical cannabis was legal, we didn’t have the drug cartels, and it was not a problem.”

(Illustration found here).

Beyond the power tokes, the El Niño a-coming will hopefully bring more rain, but it will also add to  the wildfire season, which is stacking up to be one of the worst on record.
From Discovery News this morning:

“Some of the models have it developing into a strong El Niño event,” said Mike Halpert, Deputy Director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
“That’s the one that folks in California are hoping for.”
The last really potent El Niño was in 1997-1998.
That event was too strong, however, causing more than a half billion dollars in flood damages to the state.
For that reason a moderately strong El Niño would probably be preferable, but even that could have major effects on where wildfires are likely to burn this year.

On the other hand, the El Niño/wildfire connection is not so clear for California’s chaparral country, Covington explained.
Unlike forests, the shrubby chaparral of California’s coastal hills and mountains grows quite fast and is extremely flammable, so it can burn more often and under a wider range of conditions.
A big concern, says Covington, is what happens after fires start.
In many places parts of the West higher temperatures and decades of fire suppression have led to forests that are severely overgrown and ready to burn explosively.
“Another thing that’s driving megafires is the severe drought coinciding with [high winds],” Covington said.
Those winds — which are part of a larger shift in global climate — serve as billows to fires, growing them hotter and far larger than ever before.
“Around the year 2000 we started to see large areas of landscape chock full of fuel and droughts, punctuated by high wind events,” said Covington.
“The result was stunning fires.”
In the 1970s a three- or four thousand-acre fire was considered a very large fire, he said.
Now megafires exceed 100,000 acres.
“Now we’d welcome a three or four thousand acre fire.”

A lot of the experts I’ve read seem still in the wait-and-see mode for the “super El Niño” this fall, but most concede the event will be something, one way or another.

Yet researchers really don’t understand how this could pay in the warming this summer, but it ain’t good.
From Nature World News:

While it’s no secret that much of the Antarctic Peninsula is rapidly melting, scientists were disappointed when they recently found that a previously stable region of Antarctica is experiencing rapid ice loss –so much so that it is even affecting Earth’s gravity field.
The Southern Antarctic Peninsula was believed to be one of the few areas left that was relatively unaffected by climate change.
That is, until 2009 when multiple glaciers along a vast coastal expanse, measuring some 750 km (466 miles) in length, suddenly started to shed ice into the ocean at a nearly constant rate of 60 cubic km — or about 55 trillion liters of water — each year.
That’s at least according to a new study published in the journal Science, which says that this sudden onset of ice loss now makes the region the second largest contributor to sea level rise in Antarctica.
What’s more, the flow rate shows no signs of waning anytime soon.
“To date, the glaciers added roughly 300 cubic km of water to the ocean. That’s the equivalent of the volume of nearly 350,000 Empire State Buildings combined,” lead researcher Dr. Bert Wouters, a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Bristol, UK, said in a statement.

Fire, heat and potent pot — the future is weird as shit…

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