Tuesday Reads: September Heat WavePosted: September 8, 2015
It’s September, but it feels like July here in Boston. We’re having another heat wave, and the same is true in many other parts of the country. Fortunately, most of us will get some relief later in the week.
Hot temperatures have dominated parts of the Midwest, Plains and East during the first week of September, with highs topping out well into the 80s and 90s at times. While some might be enjoying this late-summer heat and humidity, others are probably ready for the air to have more of a fall feel east of the Rockies. For those in the latterI’ camp, we do have some good news on the horizon thanks to a rearrangement of the jet stream pattern.
For the Midwest and parts of the East, temperatures will drop to near-average or even below-average levels as the week progresses. In fact, some cities in the Midwest may see high temperatures fall 20 degrees or more from early week into mid or late week. Even more impressive is the temperature drop from highs early this week to lows later in the week. For example, Chicago had a high of 92 degrees on Sunday but will see lows in the 50s late in the week, a drop of more than 30 degrees.
Before the cooler air arrives in the Northeast, daily record high temperatures will be threatened in multiple locations, including New York City, Philadelphia, Hartford and Boston on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the West Coast will see the opposite impact from this pattern change with temperatures soaring above average all the way into the Pacific Northwest.
Read all the details at the link.
From the Weather Wisdom column at The Boston Globe: September heat wave begins today and continues through Wednesday.
Back in 1881, the mercury rose to a stifling 102 degrees in Boston for the hottest temperature in the record books during the month of September. This was also one of the hottest days ever in Boston.
Typically our highs would be in the 70s closing out the first week of September, during a cool year we might stay in the 60s while other warmer years would reach the 80s. Today marks only the 5th time since records began in Boston we have reached 90 degrees on September 7th.
Heat Wave Number 2
Having already eclipsed the 90 mark, it’s almost a sure bet we are beginning a 3 day heat wave. Remember, heat waves are 3 days or more in a row when the high temperature reaches at least 90 degrees. Tomorrow and Wednesday are even hotter and as the humidity slowly climbs the heat indices could get near 100 degrees for a few hours either or both days.
The map below shows highs in the mid-90s tomorrow. This would be the 9th time Boston has reached 90 on the 8th of September. The record for tomorrow is 95 and there is a chance would could tie that record.
Another 90 degree day on Wednesday will make it an official heat wave. There are only 3 days where it’s reached 90 on the 9th and this year should make 4. The record Wednesday is 91 and we would likely set a new record.
On days like this, I can’t help thinking about our changing climate and how it will affect future generations. This is another reason why we must elect a Democratic president next year. President Obama has been able to make some progress on this issue through executive orders; to build on his efforts, we desperately need to elect Hillary Clinton president and hope that she can bring along enough Democrats to regain the Senate.
From The Hill: Democrats pin hopes on Hillary for winning back the Senate.
The battle for control of the Senate rests on the outcome of the presidential race, strategists in both parties say.
Since 1860, no party has been able to climb out of the minority to capture the Senate during a presidential election year without also winning the White House….
Democrats appear well positioned to knock off two Republican incumbents, but whether they can stretch the number of Senate pick-ups to the necessary four or five while defending two of their own vulnerable seats remains to be seen.
The election map favors Democrats. They are defending only 10 Senate seats, while Republicans are protecting 24, including seven in states carried by President Obama in 2012.
But Democrats are running against the grain of history by trying to keep the White House for three consecutive terms — a feat last accomplished by Republicans in 1988, when Ronald Reagan left office with a 53-percent approval rating. Obama’s approval rating, by comparison, stands at 45 percent, according to Gallup.
Just one more reason why we need to support Hillary. “The article quotes “Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic strategist, lobbyist and fundraiser.”
“Ted Strickland can beat Rob Portman if Hillary Clinton is winning Ohio. Pat Toomey, no matter how good he looks on paper and the problems we’re having with the primary, I think if you get to November and Democrats are winning Pennsylvania by a huge number, Toomey’s in a lot of trouble,” he said
“If Democrats don’t win the presidential race, I don’t think we’ll win the Senate,” he added.
The map of key Senate races largely matches up with the map of presidential battlegrounds.
Aside from Wisconsin and Illinois, where Republican incumbent Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) are fighting for their political lives in blue states, the most competitive Senate contests are in presidential swing states.
Johnson trails former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in Wisconsin by five points, according to a mid-August Marquette Law School poll, and Democrats predict Feingold will raise more money.
Kirk, meanwhile, lagged six points behind Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) in a late-July survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm.
More details at the link.
Getting back to climate change, The Washington Post had an important article yesterday: New studies deepen concerns about a climate-change ‘wild card.’
Two new studies are adding to concerns about one of the most troubling scenarios for future climate change: the possibility that global warming could slow or shut down the Atlantic’s great ocean circulation systems, with dramatic implications for North America and Europe.
The research, by separate teams of scientists, bolsters predictions of disruptions to global ocean currents — such as the Gulf Stream — that transfer tropical warmth from the equator to northern latitudes, as well as a larger conveyor system that cycles colder water into the ocean’s depths. Both systems help ensure relatively mild conditions in parts of Northern Europe that would otherwise be much colder.
The papers offer new insight into how rapidly melting Arctic ice could slow or even temporarily halt the ocean’s normal circulation, with possible effects ranging from plunging temperatures in northern latitudes to centuries-long droughts in Southeast Asia….
One study, by three scientists from Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute, uses computers to model how Greenland’s rapid thawing could affect the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, the system that pushes cold, dense saltwater into the deep ocean and helps transport warm water northward, helping to warm Europe’s climate.
Their report, in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, says previous research may have underestimated changes to the ocean from the huge influx of fresh, cold water from melting ice sheets. Using new methods, the German scientists were able to estimate more precisely how much ice would melt and how all that added freshwater would affect ocean circulation. In the ocean, colder water normally tends to sink, but cold freshwater — less dense than saltwater — stays near the surface, disrupting the normal flow.
The researchers concluded that we’ve already gone pretty far down the road on climate change, but there are still things society can do the prevent the worst scenarios from coming to pass.
A second paper, by a team of Texas scientists, sheds new light on how the Earth’s climate responded during a similar thaw from the planet’s geological past. About 12,000 years ago, rising temperatures at the end of the last ice age released huge volumes of cold freshwater, disrupting the ocean’s circulation systems and sending parts of the Northern Hemisphere back in to the freezer. Scientists refer to the era as the Younger Dryas period.
The study in the journal Nature Climate found a wide range of impacts, some of which lingered for centuries. While the far-northern latitudes experienced rapid changes — including an 18-degree Fahrenheit temperature drop in Greenland in less than a decade — droughts and other weather anomalies in the southern Pacific persisted for 1,000 years.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
Is it possible we’ve reached a turning point? Jonathan Chait thinks so: This is the year humans finally got serious about saving themselves from themselves.
Here on planet Earth, things could be going better. The rise in atmospheric temperatures from greenhouse gases poses the most dire threat to humanity, measured on a scale of potential suffering, since Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany launched near-simultaneous wars of conquest. And the problem has turned out to be much harder to solve. It’s not the money. The cost of transitioning away from fossil fuels, measured as a share of the economy, may amount to a fraction of the cost of defeating the Axis powers. Rather, it is the politics that have proved so fiendish. Fighting a war is relatively straightforward: You spend all the money you can to build a giant military and send it off to do battle. Climate change is a problem that politics is almost designed not to solve. Its costs lie mostly in the distant future, whereas politics is built to respond to immediate conditions. (And of the wonders the internet has brought us, a lengthening of mental time horizons is not among them.) Its solution requires coordination not of a handful of allies but of scores of countries with wildly disparate economies and political structures. There has not yet been a galvanizing Pearl Harbor moment, when the urgency of action becomes instantly clear and isolationists melt away. Instead, it breeds counterproductive mental reactions: denial, fatalism, and depression.
It’s a long read. Chait covers the history of efforts to reverse climate change and then offers hope.
For human to wean ourselves off carbon-emitting fossil fuel, we will have to use some combination of edict and invention — there is no other plausible way around it. The task before the world is best envisioned not as a singular event but as two distinct but interrelated revolutions, one in political willpower and the other in technological innovation. It has taken a long time for each to materialize, in part because the absence of one has compounded the difficulty of the other. It is extremely hard to force a shift to clean energy when dirty energy is much cheaper, and it is extremely hard to achieve economies of scale in new energy technologies when the political system has not yet nudged you to do so.
And yet, if you formed a viewpoint about the cost effectiveness of green energy a generation ago (when, for instance, Ronald Reagan tore the costly solar panels installed by his predecessor off the White House roof), or even just a few years ago, your beliefs are out of date. That technological revolution is well under way.
For one thing, the price of solar is falling, and rapidly. In a March 2011post for Scientific American’s website, Ramez Naam, a computer scientist and technological enthusiast, compared the rapid progress of solar power to Moore’s Law, the famous dictum that described the process by which microchips grew steadily more useful over time, doubling in efficiency every two years. The price of solar power had fallen in two decades from nearly $10 a watt to about $3. By 2030, he predicted, the price could drop to just 50 cents a watt.
Read the whole thing at New York Magazine.
Those are my offerings for today. I’m going to turn was feeling sick on Sunday and Monday and I’m still a little wobbly today. Take, care, Sky Dancers and I hope the floor over to you now, because I’m recovering from a nasty stomach virus. I hope you have an enjoyable day.