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Meteorology

  • It was only two days ago that the New South Wales Rural Fire Service warned the developing bushfires were growing in intensity and would generate its own weather system. Unfortunately, these bushfires were growing far too quick to be contained. In turn, these sorts of weather patterns become a repeating cycle: fires, wind, thunderstorm, lighting, and repeat.

    The Amazon fires had roughly 2.2M hectares burned, the 2019/2020 Australia Bushfire has burned 5.9M hectares so far. It’s a bit mind-blowing to draw a comparison between two very large numbers. The destruction of wildlife alone is enough to make your stomach churn, and the video really communicates the devastation:

    https://twitter.com/goodoldcatchy/status/1212755943102058501?s=21

    Most of the pictures of these bushfires and the pyro-cumulonimbus (sometimes referred to as cumulonimbus flammagenitus) cloud formations are really intense:

    https://twitter.com/merxplat/status/1213410879972114439?s=20

    According to Quartz, this is only the beginning. Climate change has radically altered meteorology on Earth, and we can expect these sorts of weather patterns more frequently in arid regions:

    As global temperatures rise, pyrocumulus clouds may become more common. A similar fire-induced weather system took place during California’s wildfire season in 2018. The state’s hilly terrain created perfect conditions for not only thunderstorms, but fire tornadoes. An unprecedented number of wildfires in north Russia and the Arctic Circle in the summer of 2019, as captured by satellite images, contributed to an increase in lightning strikes in the North Pole.

    To make matters worse, the smoke and carbon dioxide is stuffing the air downstream in Auckland, New Zealand and turning the sky orange. This is getting really bad, really quickly.

  • The New York Times reports:

    As Hurricane Dorian drew near to the Abaco Islands in the northwestern Bahamas early Sunday morning, the National Hurricane Center said in a bulletin that the maximum sustained winds around the eye of the storm had reached 160- miles an hour, making it a “catastrophic” storm with “devastating winds.” 

    It is moving westward fairly slowly — 8 miles an hour — and would soon be moving over Grand Abaco. The bulletin said storm surge as much of 15 to 20 feet was possible, enough to swamp many low-lying areas of the islands, and that as much as 24 inches of rain could fall before the storm passes.

    This is pretty much a nightmare scenario. A storm originally forecast as a Category 3 or 4 has strengthened to a Category 5 in the balmy warm waters just south of The Bahamas. A weak jet stream, and unusually high temperatures of the waters have only strengthened the storm as it slowly creeps toward The States.

    The devastating wind and sustained rain is going to pummel the tropical islands before reaching Florida on September 2, Labor Day at 2am. The NWS precipitation forecast says it all:

    There will be widespread flooding, intense surf, and damaging sustained winds. As a reminder, climate change is real and it will only get worse and worse every year until we make systemic changes to roll back greenhouse emissions, and protect our only weapon in this fight — the rainforests of Earth.

    The full list of Category 5 storms (data from Wikipedia) as of August 2019:

    NameDates as a
    Category 5
    Sustained
    wind speeds
    “Cuba”October 19, 1924165 mph (270 km/h)
    “San Felipe II
    Okeechobee”
    September 13–14, 1928160 mph (260 km/h)
    “Bahamas”September 5–6, 1932160 mph (260 km/h)
    “Cuba”November 5–8, 1932175 mph (280 km/h)
    “Cuba–Brownsville”August 30, 1933160 mph (260 km/h)
    “Tampico”September 21, 1933160 mph (260 km/h)
    “Labor Day”September 3, 1935185 mph (295 km/h)
    “New England”September 19–20, 1938160 mph (260 km/h)
    CarolSeptember 3, 1953160 mph (260 km/h)
    JanetSeptember 27–28, 1955175 mph (280 km/h)
    CarlaSeptember 11, 1961175 mph (280 km/h)
    HattieOctober 30–31, 1961160 mph (260 km/h)
    BeulahSeptember 20, 1967160 mph (260 km/h)
    CamilleAugust 16–18, 1969175 mph (280 km/h)
    EdithSeptember 9, 1971160 mph (260 km/h)
    AnitaSeptember 2, 1977175 mph (280 km/h)
    DavidAugust 30–31, 1979175 mph (280 km/h)
    AllenAugust 5–9, 1980190 mph (305 km/h)
    GilbertSeptember 13–14, 1988185 mph (295 km/h)
    HugoSeptember 15, 1989160 mph (260 km/h)
    AndrewAugust 23–24, 1992175 mph (280 km/h)
    MitchOctober 26–28, 1998180 mph (285 km/h)
    IsabelSeptember 11–14, 2003165 mph (270 km/h)
    IvanSeptember 9–14, 2004165 mph (270 km/h)
    EmilyJuly 16, 2005160 mph (260 km/h)
    KatrinaAugust 28–29, 2005175 mph (280 km/h)
    RitaSeptember 21–22, 2005180 mph (285 km/h)
    WilmaOctober 19, 2005185 mph (295 km/h)
    DeanAugust 18–21, 2007175 mph (280 km/h)
    FelixSeptember 3–4, 2007175 mph (280 km/h)
    MatthewOctober 1, 2016165 mph (270 km/h)
    IrmaSeptember 5–9, 2017180 mph (285 km/h)
    MariaSeptember 18–20, 2017175 mph (280 km/h)
    MichaelOctober 10, 2018160 mph (260 km/h)
    DorianSeptember 1, 2019175 mph (280 km/h)

    Another way to read this table — in nearly a a century of record-keeping, roughly 30% of all Category 5 hurricanes have been recorded since the New Millennium.

  • Take a good, hard look at the graph and caption below.

    This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Luthi, D., et al.. 2008; Etheridge, D.M., et al. 2010; Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.) Find out more about ice cores (external site).

    Sadly, as of today, the EPA, weaponized by the GOP, has rolled back coal regulations that could have saved lives. Drunk on removing regulation, no one in power is considering the implications of allowing coal power to return in droves. NASA, the last bastion of climate research, says it’s not looking good for anyone:

    Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.

    If that doesn’t scare the living hell out of you, allow my hyperbolic language for a moment — we don’t have a lot of time left on the clock. Last time I checked, there’s only one Earth. Maybe, start giving a shit. At this rate, humankind will be in grave danger in less than 50 years times. This is not up for debate. Contact your member of Congress or the Senate. Ask him or her to support climate legislation immediately. Find a member of the House here and a member of the Senate here. Most importantly, go vote.

    Looking for more tips on reducing your carbon footprint or fighting climate change? Here’s some further reading: