There are already signs that the weakening of the Atlantic circulation is having an effect on U.S. fisheries and storms. Ice melting off Greenland as the Arctic warms is believed to play a key role. Credit: NASA
A key question for climate scientists in recent years has been whether the Atlantic Ocean's main circulation system is slowing down, a development that could have dramatic consequences for Europe and other parts of the Atlantic rim. But a new study suggests help may be on the way from an unexpected source -- the Indian Ocean. Think of it as ocean-to-ocean altruism in the age of climate change.
The new study, from Shineng Hu of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego and Alexey Fedorov of Yale University, appeared recently in the journal Nature Climate Change. It is the latest in a growing body of research that explores how global warming may alter global climate components such as the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC). AMOC is one of the planet's largest water circulation systems. It operates like a liquid escalator, delivering warm water to the North Atlantic via an upper limb and sending colder water south via a deeper limb. Although AMOC has been stable for thousands of years, data from the past 15 years, as well as computer model projections, have given some scientists cause for concern. AMOC has showed signs of slowing during that period, but whether it is a result of global warming or only a short-term anomaly related to natural ocean variability is not known and the issue of AMOC stability should not be ignored. The mere possibility that the AMOC could collapse should be a strong reason for concern in an era when human activity is forcing significant changes to the Earth's systems. The last time AMOC weakened substantially was 15,000 to 17,000 years ago, and it had global impacts, like harsh winters in Europe, with more storms or a drier Sahel in Africa due to the downward shift of the tropical rain belt.
Much of Fedorov and Hu's work focuses on specific climate mechanisms and features that may be shifting due to global warming. Using a combination of observational data and sophisticated computer modeling, they plot out what effects such shifts might have over time. For example, Fedorov has looked previously at the role melting Arctic sea ice might have on AMOC. For the new study, they looked at warming in the Indian Ocean. Warming of the Indian Ocean is considered one of the most robust aspects of global warming. The researchers said their modeling indicates a series of cascading effects that stretch from the Indian Ocean all way over to the Atlantic: As the Indian Ocean warms faster and faster, it generates additional precipitation. This, in turn, draws more air from other parts of the world, including the Atlantic, to the Indian Ocean. With so much precipitation in the Indian Ocean, there will be less precipitation in the Atlantic Ocean, the researchers said. Less precipitation will lead to higher salinity in the waters of the tropical portion of the Atlantic -- because there won't be as much rainwater to dilute it. This saltier water in the Atlantic, as it comes north via AMOC, will get cold much quicker than usual and sink faster. "This would act as a jump-start for AMOC, intensifying the circulation," Fedorov said. On the other hand, how long this enhanced Indian Ocean warming will continue is unknown. If other tropical oceans' warming, especially the Pacific, catches up with the Indian Ocean, the advantage for AMOC will stop.
The researchers said this latest finding illustrates the intricate, interconnected nature of global climate. As scientists try to understand the unfolding effects of climate change, they must attempt to identify all of the climate variables and mechanisms that are likely to play a role, they added. There are undoubtedly many other connections that are unknown.
1. Shineng Hu, Alexey V. Fedorov. Indian Ocean warming can strengthen the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. Nature Climate Change, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41558-019-0566-x
Climate change has had extreme impacts in India. Rise in average global temperatures have led to a worrying trend of no rain for long periods and then a sudden bout of excessive rainfall, causing extreme weather events, particularly floods which took lives, destroyed homes and agricultural yields as well as resulted in huge revenue losses. The resulting floods are being exacerbated by unplanned urban growth and environmental degradation, driving millions from their homes and causing widespread damage.
For centuries, Indians have rejoiced at the arrival of the monsoon to break summer’s fever. This year, India’s monsoon season has overrun by almost a month, with unprecedented rainfall causing deaths from collapsing buildings and many crops beginning to rot. Normally the monsoon in north India recedes by the beginning of September, but the average rainfall this month has been 37% above normal. If the situation continues for the remaining few days, it will be the latest the monsoon has ever receded in decades, according to experts in the India Meteorological Department.
The torrential rains that submerged parts of India this year are the latest in a string of major floods in the past decade, some caused by record rainfall - a scenario that many fears could become the “new normal” as climate change increases the frequency of extreme weather. This year, the monsoon arrived late with fierce intensity, where spells of heavy rain have led to flooding in 11 states, taking 1200 lives and displacing millions. India’s summer monsoon has always been variable and has often precipitated floods, especially in the basins of the great Himalayan rivers. But experts say that a combination of global warming, unplanned urban growth, and environmental degradation is increasing flood risk in India.
New studies show that extreme precipitation events are on the rise in large parts of India, especially multi-day deluges that lead to large-scale floods. Warmer temperatures are also speeding up glacier melt in the Himalayas, which is projected to increase flow rates in the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers. Last year’s historical floods in the southern state of Kerala were due to the destruction of mountains and hills, as well as development on floodplains and marshes which are exacerbating risks. These floods were caused by extreme rainfall and mismanagement of dam reservoirs, but mining and construction in the Western Ghats, a major hill range, contributed to damaging landslides. The floods in August 2018 took 483 lives, affecting 5.4 million people, and temporarily shut down the state’s new airport, which was built on a floodplain.
One key to preventing or reducing flood damage is understating the shifting contours of the summer monsoon, which brings about 35 inches of rainfall to India every summer. A complex weather system influenced by both global atmospheric circulation and regional meteorological forces, the monsoon is an important piece of the climate puzzle- any change in the system affects the food and water security of billions in the Indian subcontinent, many of them extremely poor.
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© 2019 Oceanographer Daneeja Mawren
Discussion: Astronomical Fall has officially started and with that is a good time to reminisce back on how summer 2019 shaped up! NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Prediction has released their report of climate statistics for this past summer (June 2019-August 2019). The average summer temperature across the contiguous United States was 72.4°F which was 1.0°F above normal and the average minimum temperature was 59.9°F. The minimum temperatures ranked in the upper third of the climate record (1985-2019), coming in 1.5°F above normal since the records were first taken in 1895. The above normal temperature trend occurred in states across the northeastern United States, on the West coast, and in the South. According to NOAA, this summer as a whole rank in the upper third of the climate record. All of the states all experienced near or above average temperatures this summer. No states were below normal. Alaska’s average temperature this summer was 54.6°F, 4.1°F above normal, which marks this summer as the second warmest since 1895. Anchorage, Alaska experienced its warmest summer. The average temperature was 63.2°F. This temperature was 1.8°F higher than the summer of 2004.
The average total of summertime precipitation this year was 8.83 inches, which was above average by 0.51 inches. Since the records began in 1895, this summer also ranked in the top third of the climate record for wettest summer. From the northern Great Plains to the East Coast, many states experienced above average precipitation. States in parts of the Ohio Valley and the Mid-Atlantic region saw much above average precipitation. The opposite could be noted for parts of the western and southern United States. Those regions experienced a summer of below average precipitation. The standout state was Arizona, which experienced its driest summer on record. Other western and southwestern states such as California, New Mexico and Utah all had their tenth driest or lower summer. Utqiagvik, Alaska broke a thirty-year precipitation record. This summer they received 5.43 inches of precipitation breaking the old record of 5.24 inches set in 1989! Now that summer 2019 is in the books, it will be interesting to see how fall shapes up climatologically across the United States.
To check out more climate statistics and interesting facts be sure to click on the following link: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/201908
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© 2019 Meteorologist Shannon Scully
For days now the world has been watching as the Amazon suffers a major blow thanks to a record number of wildfires that have scorched huge swaths of the rainforest. These fires started back in August 13th, 2019, and have since been reported all across the South American continent, affecting all sectors of the Amazon, including those areas of the rainforest that neighbor Brazil. And as outrage from both the public and world leaders continues to be echoed all across both social media platforms and protests in cities around the world, questions have been raised regarding to why these fires occurred at the intensity and sheer size that they did and whether or not the biome will be at greater risk for these sorts of extreme fire seasons in the near-future.
Fires that have been reported in the Amazon from August 13th to August 26th of 2019. Source: Business Insider
Fires are nothing new to the Amazon Basin; the area experiences natural wildfires every year owing to recurring phenomena such as dry spells and lightning strikes. Unfortunately, the region has experienced a sharp increase in annual wildfire episodes not only due to climate change but also due to man-made ones. Deforestation is nothing new and has been rampant in the region for decades as private investors, cattle ranchers, and loggers all converge over large areas of the rainforest and continually remove acres of land on a daily basis by means that include everything from chopping down trees to starting legal (and illegal) forest fires. Indeed, the loose government regulations owing to Brazil’s current administration along with dry spells over the basin have exasperated this year’s number of wildfires to levels that surpass those seen in 2016 and most of this decade.
The fires have indeed gotten so out of control over the Amazon Basin that their sheer size and magnitude are even visible from space, as satellite imagery has suggested. As such, smoke has plagued nearly the entire country of Brazil, with its largest city, Sao Paulo, experiencing intensive cloud cover and dark skies as a result.
Clear skies over the central Amazon basin in July 2019 juxtaposed with much hazier/smoky conditions over the exact same area the following month. Source: CNN/NOAA
Dark skies in the middle of the day over Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 19th, 2019. Source: Business Insider
Outrage over these wildfires has been noted at the local and national level in Brazil as environmental activists have called out President Bolsonaro and his administration for loosening regulations that would otherwise defend more of the Amazon Rainforest by protesting on the streets of several major Brazilian cities including Sao Paulo. Many protesters and activists have also argued that the current administration has essentially been downplaying most of what has been occurring over the last few weeks, resulting in Bolsonaro suggesting that it’s actually the environmentalists that have started several of the recent wildfires(https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-rainforest-photos-before-after-wildfires-2019-8#environmental-activists-have-been-fighting-to-save-the-rainforest-for-years-here-a-greenpeace-protest-calls-deforestation-a-crime-near-the-brazilian-town-of-claudia-mato-gross-in-2005-23). As for global reactions to the situation, world activists including Leonardo DiCaprio and Shakira have commented on the events that are unfolding in the Amazon and have donated to help fight the wildfires. Moreover, world leaders recently held a G7 Summit in which they have promised to also donate money and provide emergency services to Brazil.
As the rest of the world looks on at what’s currently taking place in the Amazon, many have started to ask how they and their communities can help to preserve the rainforest. Several accredited organizations are out there and have been included in this article. For more information on how you can donate to services committed to help with this crisis,visit:https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2019/08/241249/amazon-rainforest-fires-how-to-help-donate-organizations
©2019 Meteorologist Gerardo Diaz Jr.
Volcanic Eruptions Can Reduce Global Average Temperature (Credit: UCAR and Meteorology Today by C. Ahrens)
Volcanic eruptions have the potential to change the global average temperature and have done so in the past. There are just two important factors that can make this happen. These eruptions have to be massive and the spewed contents need to have a significant amount of sulfur dioxide and ash. One evident example of this is what is famously known as “The year without a summer”.
The year 1816 was notoriously known for its cold and gloomy summer, where overcast skies and rain was frequent. In order to explain the cold summer event, scientists researched global climatic changes and events over the past year. It was discovered that this massive eruption became the main cause of 1816’s chilly summer. On April 5th, 1815, Mt. Tambora in Indonesia erupted. The build up, however, took a staggering four months as ash and dust spewed high into the atmosphere, blocking out the sun. Based on its duration and magnitude, this eruption was dubbed the largest in recorded history. As the ash spewed into the air, debris that didn’t fall back to the ground was picked up by the trade winds and circulated around the world; a process that takes months. By the time the summer of 1816 came around, the global average temperature had decreased by about three degrees Celsius.
The small particles of ash from the eruption travel around the globe becoming perfect condensation nuclei for water vapor. Condensation nuclei is a term to explain how the particles of ash act as an object the water vapor in the air can easily attach to. The process of collision continues to grow the piece of ash into a water droplet. This occurs when more droplets of water continue to attach to the particle by colliding into it as it gets pushed around by the movement of air. Eventually, all the ash in the air will collect into a bigger droplet of vapor and form a cloud. With more ash in the air, this process increases cloud cover in the atmosphere and leads to increased precipitation. Clouds are notorious for blocking out the sun. In the case of the year 1816, this is exactly what happened. Most of the summer was cloudy and rainy.
Sulfur Dioxide, a gas released during volcanic eruptions, also combines with water vapor in the atmosphere. When this happens the chemicals react and the droplets of water vapor become droplets of sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is a great sunlight reflector. Naturally in our atmosphere, Sulfuric Acid is known as a coolant, contributing to the cooling of the earth's surface. With an increased amount of Sulfuric Acid in the atmosphere, the more likely it is to increase the cooling process. With the 1815 eruption, Mt. Tambora caused a significant amount of Sulfuric Acid to form. It takes about three years for Sulfuric Acid to collect into rain droplets and rain out of the atmosphere. So, with the highest content of sulfuric acid in the atmosphere the following year along with the increased cloud cover from the microparticles, the global average temperature decreased.
Another example of volcanic eruption that changed global average temperature occurred in 1991. Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines spewed an estimated 20 million tons of Sulfur Dioxide into the atmosphere. Model predictions were in agreement that the global average temperature had dropped by 0.5 degrees Celsius and the following two years recorded below average temperatures around the world. This eruption was not nearly as big as the eruption of Mt. Tambora. However, it was still a large eruption that had a significant effect on the global average temperature.
It is very interesting how much one large eruption has an effect on our atmosphere. The effect made by Mt. Tambora was certainly the largest in recorded history. Although uncertain and difficult to predict, it is possible that another eruption could occur at some point in the future which may also have an effect on the global average temperature. There are still plenty of active volcanoes to this day that record seismic activity and/or spew lava and ash on occasion. Even after blowing its top in 1815, Mt. Tambora is one of the few/many volcanoes still active to this day.
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© 2019 Meteorologist Alexandria Maynard
Painting by Edvard Munch in 1893
Discussion: Nature and art go hand in hand. Many choose to express their feeling of appreciation, awe, or perhaps fear of nature through artwork, whether that be protruding jagged mountains, deep canyons, lush fields, intense sculpted thunderstorms, the list goes on. The painting above, by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch in 1893, is no different. A specific natural event in history 10 years prior to this painting may have inspired portions of the sky in this iconic image, in addition to a rare type of cloud. That event was the eruption of the volcano Krakatau in 1883. Whether or not this was the exact inspiration behind the artwork, volcanoes do create stunning sunsets as well as other climatic influences.
Volcanic eruptions have a variety of climate impacts across the globe. Perhaps the most noteworthy influence is global cooling as solar radiation is blocked by ash and sulfur compounds shot into the stratosphere. These compounds also reflect blue light leaving the more vibrant red and orange colors on display. As a result, incredible sunsets with vivid red and orange coloring become more likely after a volcanic eruption. One example is shown below.
Sunset Madison, Wisconsin July 1982 after the El Chichón eruption. Photograph by Alan Robock, Professor Rutgers University
Here’s where the painting comes into play. The eruption of Krakatau in 1883 was powerful enough to inject large amounts of ash and sulfur into the atmosphere which circled the globe for years after the eruption. The climate was temporarily altered, the Earth was cooled, and the sunsets were perhaps vibrant enough for Edvard Munch to describe them as nature/the sky screaming. See for yourself below how this was expressed by Munch:
“I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”
There is no way to know exactly what inspired Munch. There has been a new theory proposed by a few scientists about the true influence behind “The Scream”. The wavy like pattern of the sky/clouds in the painting seem to resemble the rare stratospheric clouds named nacreous or otherwise known as “mother of pearl” clouds. These clouds certainly could have a philosophical impact on someone.
Photo: Simon A
This photograph shows polar stratospheric clouds lit from below near Kiruna, Sweden.
Image credit: NASA/Lamont Poole
“We don’t know if Munch painted exactly what he saw,” Rutgers Professor Alan Robock said. “He could have been influenced by the Krakatau sunset and nacreous clouds and combined them. The Krakatau sunset was several years before he made the painting, but he still may have remembered it. We have to remember that he is an artist. That face in the foreground [of the painting] is not a face, why should we trust that the sky is exactly what he saw. Maybe he combined his feelings that he got from different skies and put it together in a picture”.
Regardless of the exact reason behind Munch’s painting, volcanic eruptions do have a large impact on the climate. For example, patterns in large scale climate oscillations (North Atlantic Oscillation and Arctic Oscillation), summer cooling, winter warming, to name a few, among others. More on the volcanic aspect will be covered in the future, be sure to visit GWCC’s climate section here to watch out for these additional pieces!
©2019 Meteorologist Joe DeLizio
Polar Strat Images:
(Multiple sources have slight variations of the wording of this quote but express the same notion).
Portions of Dr Alan Robock’s Quotes:
He made an appearance on The Weather Channel explaining “The Scream” and the new and old theories.
A new reconstruction of global average surface temperature change over the past 2000 years has identified the main causes for decadal-scale climate changes. The result shows that the Earth's current warming rate, caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, is higher than any warming rate observed previously. The researchers also found that airborne particles from volcanic eruptions were primarily responsible for several brief episodes of global cooling before the Industrial Revolution of the mid-19th century.
This new temperature reconstruction also largely agrees with other climate model simulations for the same period of time. The researchers found agreement for changes in temperature caused by identifiable factors, such as volcanic aerosols and greenhouse gases, as well as random fluctuations in climate that took place on the same timescales. This suggests that current climate models accurately represent the contributions of various factors that influence global climate change and are capable of correctly predicting future climate warming.
The research team working on the Past Global Changes (PAGES) project used seven different statistical methods to perform the reconstruction and these results were published online July 24, 2019 in the journal Nature Geoscience. The new 2,000-year reconstruction improves on previous efforts by using the most detailed and comprehensive database compiled by PAGES researchers. The dataset includes nearly 700 separate publicly available records from sources that contain indicators of past temperatures, such as long-lived trees, reef-building corals, ice cores, and marine and lake sediments. The data are sourced from all of Earth's continental regions and major ocean basins.
Graph shows global mean rates of temperature change over the last 2,000 years, as determined by a new reconstruction based on climate proxy data. Red denotes temperature increases while blue denotes temperature decreases. The green line shows the maximum expected warming rate without human influence; the dashed orange line signifies the ability of climate models to simulate this natural upper limit. The black line indicates average global as determined by direct measurements since the Industrial Revolution. Credit: University of Bern
By comparing the new reconstructions with existing climate simulations generated using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 (CMIP5) climate models, the PAGES research team was able to determine the relative contributions of several influences on global temperatures over time. These included natural influences, such as fluctuations in solar heating and the cooling effect of particles ejected by volcanic eruptions, as well as the human-caused influence of greenhouse gas emissions.
The results suggest that volcanic activity was responsible for variations before about 1850.Thereafter, greenhouse gases became the dominant influence on global climate. By removing these influences in their analysis, the researchers also identified the magnitude of the random changes that cannot be traced to a specific cause. The team's data-based reconstructions also agreed with model simulations when evaluating these random changes. This agreement between the researchers' data-based reconstructions and the CMIP5 simulations suggests that existing climate models can accurately predict future global temperature change over the next few decades. However, these simulations depend heavily on the choices that humans make in the future, which is very difficult to predict. According to the researchers, the uncertainty in the influence of human activities is not so large when looking forward only a few decades but in the longer term, the choices that are made regarding energy sources and how much carbon these sources emit will greatly matter.
Journal reference: Consistent multidecadal variability in global temperature reconstructions and simulations over the Common Era, Nature Geoscience (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41561-019-0402-y
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© 2019 Oceanographer Daneeja Mawren
The World’s Largest Bloom of Seaweed is Devastating, and It May Very Well be Linked to Climate Change
A massive blossoming of seaweed is traversing the Atlantic Ocean, and it may be linked to changes in our climate.
The massive mat of seaweed, known specifically as Sargassum, stretches from the West African coast to the Gulf of Mexico—thousands of miles. This species of seaweed has been in the Atlantic for decades, although in sparse amounts. In 2011, however, researchers found this seaweed in exorbitant amounts, to which algae was connected in a continuous mat stretching across the ocean.
While this particular strand of seaweed provides a sanctuary for many species of fish, birds, and turtles, it can, in large amounts, devastate these same species. In 2011, when satellite imagery located the abnormal bloom of seaweed, researchers attributed it to discharge from the Amazon River during spring and summer. However, it was noted later on that upwelling off Africa during boreal winter may also be in play. The latter factor is likely caused by changes in Atlantic Ocean circulation patterns, courtesy of climate change.
The reason this strand of seaweed is rather devastating is because of where it happens to be washing up—popular tourist destinations across the Caribbean. The Yucatan Peninsula, home of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and other prominent vacation hotspots have been particularly hard hit. Since the beginning of the year, over 650,000 tons of seaweed have washed ashore along the Yucatan’s coastline, and it comes with a distinct egg odor that has turned away many vacationers. The odor is caused by the release of hydrogen sulfide as the seaweed decomposes. Although some may be able to deal with the odor, the hydrogen sulfide has caused issues with local infrastructure, such as the corrosion of plumbing.
While Mexican officials have allocated funds to the cleanup and disposal of seaweed into dumps and the use of it as fertilizer for agriculture, researchers warn these extraordinary blooms of seaweed will become the new normal, and have even given the belt a name—the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt.
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©2019 Weather Forecaster Jacob Dolinger
In a city already plagued by constant flooding and storm surge, climate change is a clear problem facing New Orleans. Located next to the southern tip of Louisiana, the Crescent City’s unstable ground and exceedingly low sea level have placed it in a zone ripe for encroaching seas. On top of that, hurricanes that form as a direct consequence of the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico frequently bombard Louisiana, and this will only get worse as the global temperature continues to rise. This begs the question: How will New Orleans survive?
In response to this question, the U.S. government has tried to prepare the coastal city for increasingly pervasive storm surge by installing storm surge countermeasures through the United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE). These countermeasures include, but are not limited to, levees, sea walls, and pumps. Such provisions can also be found in other vulnerable coastal cities around the world, such as Shanghai, Jakarta, and London. Unfortunately, New Orleans has had difficulty utilizing their defenses in the past.
When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in 2005, it absolutely overwhelmed the flooding countermeasures put in place by the USACE. In fact, the flooding countermeasures were so ineffective that the levees themselves are often cited as the main reason why New Orleans flooded to the degree it did. The levees, canals, and floodwalls were annihilated by storm surge, allowing waters from nearby lakes and the Gulf of Mexico to invade the city. To make matters worse, it was revealed a year later that some of the pumps installed to get rid of floodwaters were defective. The storm surge was so monstrous that a large amount of buildings were completely unusable until they were pumped and rebuilt. This tragic fate could be indicative of the future of New Orleans.
Thankfully, there might still be hope for this important cultural and economic center. Lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina have better prepared the engineers, scientists, and officials for future disasters. Better designed levees, higher floodwalls that can stop up to 20 feet of storm surge, and warier city officials make it less likely that New Orleans will experience a Katrina-like failure again. However, it’s probable that these improvements won’t entirely save New Orleans from disastrous flooding in the future. Despite valiant efforts from engineers and officials, the city’s geography often leaves it defenseless from storm surge. As a result, there may be no way to completely erase the threat of storm surge from happening in New Orleans, especially with the intensifying climate. Regardless, the officials of New Orleans and the U.S. government must remain vigilant to protect this invaluable city from disaster. Hopefully, scientists and engineers will discover new ways to fight storm surge that will allow for more coastal security. Until then, it’s wise to remain watchful of incoming disasters that could devastate New Orleans and cities like it to minimize loss of life and property.
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© 2019 Weather Forecaster Cole Bristow
The week leading up to the Summer Solstice marked the second year that meteorologists across the world took to twitter through #MetsUnite in an effort to educate the public on the perils of climate change. The movement started based off the promotion of Ed Hawkins’ Warming Stripes—a stunning visual representation of the earth’s warming atmosphere through the use of stripes representing the annual temperature for every year since record-keeping began. While atmospheric science professionals worldwide donned earrings and pins laced with the stripes, some members of the public asked: what is the origin of these warming stripes, and what exactly do they mean?
Based on modern day science, many in the meteorology community have concluded that the earth’s average annual temperature is warming. This is old news. However, deciphering this data for the public can be difficult and overwhelming. Visual representations of climate science are often the best and most efficient way to grab the public’s attention when it comes to this heavy-duty science. Originally, Hawkins had only published warming stripes graphics for a handful of European cities and countries. However, in the past year, Hawkins, a scientist at Climate Central, was able to expand the graphics to cities, states, and countries worldwide, including many U.S. states and cities. Climate Central normally publicizes data for a hand-picked 244 U.S. cities that represent a variety of regional climates; this year, they made warming stripes available for 160 of those 244 cities. The chosen cities were based on available annual average temperature records for various regions, so for cities that didn’t have sufficient data (data needed to date back to the mid-19th Century) you can search for warming stripes in a nearby city, or any of the 50 states.
The warming stripes that were created this year very closely followed Climate Central’s Earth Day report on the fastest warming cities and states. The stripes indicated that cities in the Southwest, Northeast, and Alaska were the fastest warming, consistent with the aforementioned Earth Day climate report. This is an important observation given the many effects increased temperatures can have on our average climate; more extreme blizzards, severe thunderstorms, wildfires… sadly, the list goes on. It is remarkably important that meteorologists, from the broadcast sector, to research, continue to not only promote warming stripes, but climate science in general since this is the data worked with. Meteorologists in research are those who curate the data; those in the private sector may use the data to analyze the risk in poses to private consumers and the public; and broadcast meteorologists, often the only scientists much of the public come into contact with on a daily basis, report the data and make it known to the public. If meteorologists in various sectors continue to work together in the climate science field, we may just be able to make sure this is an issue we, as a united society, can confront and solve together.
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©2019 Weather Forecaster Jacob Dolinger