Posts Tagged ‘Arctic’
[Reposted from 7:58 am October 29, 2012]
Hi, this is Sandy. People are calling me ‘Frankenstorm’, ‘Superstorm’ and even ‘Weatherbomb’.
I don’t mean to hurt anyone but the record moisture in the atmosphere and heat in the ocean has given me uncontrollable power. I probably will cause billions of dollars of damage in Washington, New York City Boston and other parts of the Northeast. And I will kill some people, I already have. At least 66 people died when I swept through Jamaica and Cuba a few days ago.
I am a force of nature but you have to understand this is not all my fault.
I was born a only a week Monday in the warm waters of the southwestern Caribbean sea as a cluster of thunderstorms — what you call a tropical depression, the first stage of a hurricane. One unusual thing about my birth was that it was so late in the hurricane-tropical storm season. But this is happening more and more often as the climate becomes warmer and large parts of the ocean stay warmer longer.
The air and sea are warmer because hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning coal, oil, and natural gas are now in the atmosphere. You should know that CO2 is the planet’s heating blanket that has kept the planet warm by trapping some of the sun’s heat.
Those hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 you humans have put in the atmosphere means the CO2 blanket is thicker and capturing more heat from the sun. The amount of extra heat-energy being trapped is like exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days per year.
Most of that extra heat has gone into the oceans which is why land temperatures around the world have only risen 0.8 degree C (1.0F) on average. The oceans are getting warmer and warm water expands – that’s why pots boil over. That’s one reason why sea levels are rising. The other reason is melting glaciers and ice sheets.
Warmer air can also hold more moisture. Measurements show there is now 4 to 6 percent more water vapour (moisture) in the air making rainfalls heavier.
I was born in water 28C (80F) or better. To grow stronger I need warm water and lots of moisture in the air. There was plenty of both last week and by Monday evening my wind speeds were strong enough to be called a tropical storm. By Wednesday I was stronger still and named Hurricane Sandy, the 10th hurricane of 2012. There have been 19 tropical storms so far making this year tied for third busiest hurricane season in history.
Hurricanes live on warm water and moist air which is why I lost strength going over the mountains and hills of Jamaica and Cuba. But the huge area of near-record warm waters from Florida all the way up the east coast gave me the energy to stay at hurricane strength and grow in size. In fact I’ve become so big I may be one of the biggest ever recorded.
This should not be a surprise. More heat trapped by the extra CO2 means more fuel for storms and more moisture for heavier rains and more flooding than in the past. Higher sea levels means storm surges will be more damaging.
Hurricanes and typhoons are a way in which the Earth has re-distributed heat for millions of years. Think of us as giant pressure-relief valves. With more heat in the atmosphere it shouldn’t be surprising that we’ve become bigger and more powerful.
I said I was a force of nature, many say an Act of God. But that’s no longer true is it?
[Reposted from October 29, 2012 - Haiti needs help please donate to The Lambi Fund of Haiti, a disaster relief organization helping farmers - Sandy destroyed thousands of acres of crops.]
Hard to believe I was born only a week ago south of Jamaica. I grew very quickly over the hot Carribbean sea and last Wednesday swept into Jamaica west of Kingston with winds of 130 kph. Damage was extensive cutting power to half the country. One person died.
Last Thursday I was in Cuba, another poor country that can least afford to be damaged. Cuba is well organized to cope with powerful hurricanes. Just 35 deaths through 16 hurricanes and tropical storms since 2001.The US has fared far worse with fewer storms.
But I was a Category 2 when I arrived over Santiago, Cuba’s second largest city. Eleven people died, 3000 buildings destroyed, 30,000 lost their roofs. A billion dollars in damages. It will be a long recovery. The power is still out today.
In the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic more people died and thousands of homes were damaged.
Worst off was the most vulnerable of all: Haiti.
More than 50 people died in the southern Haiti including the area around Port-au-Prince. This where most of the 370,000 Haitians who are still living in flimsy shelters because the 2010 earthquake destroyed their homes. My flooding and high-winds destroyed many of those shelters as well their crops.
I hope you will help them. They have no resources to recover. Please remember no matter what comes in the next two days they will still be worse off.
As the last of my winds and rains ebb I wish you a complete and climate-wise recovery. Our planet is not as it once was. You have seen some of the changes in your lifetime: the superstorms, floods, drought, heat waves, and the melting of the Arctic.
Other changes are invisible such as the 30 percent increase in the acidity of the oceans. This rising acidity is harming coral reefs, fish and many other inhabitants of the oceans. One third of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from burning fossil fuels has been absorbed by the oceans. When CO2 dissolves in seawater it makes them more acidic.
All of these changes and far more with only 0.8C (1F) rise in global temperature. You want to believe all of this is natural. It is true I am part of nature but I have felt and fed off the extra heat energy in the oceans and additional moisture in the air you have unintentionally put there. The air, oceans, landscape have changed. Some call this time of major human impacts on the planet “The Anthropocene”. A big word to describe a big change: the era when humanity is influencing every aspect of life on the planet.
This reality means humanity’s childhood is over. That means accepting that we are all part of nature. It means accepting that humans are no more important to the planet than any other form of life. And it means understanding that in order for humanity to flourish, nonhuman life must be able to flourish as well.
My winds destroyed tens of thousands of trees. You may kill as many to clear wires, homes and property. Some will want to kill many more trees in cities, towns and along roads to prevent future disruption and damage. I say move the wires, keep the trees. Trees cool the planet, slow winds, trap climate-heating CO2, filter air pollutants and provide you and many other creatures with life-giving oxygen. Where trees flourish, humans flourish.
And for humans to flourish end the wasting of invaluable reserves of oil, gas and coal by burning them. Fossil fuels are a one-time gift of the planet’s long history and made from plants and trees that flourished over 100 million years ago. Paints, plastics, fertilizers, asphalt, cosmetics, clothes, medicines, inks and thousands more products are made from fossil fuels. Potential and future uses stretch the imagination.
Goodbye and Kia orana. (May you live well)
I am saddened by the damage and loss of life but am truly surprised you are so shocked by the extent and severity.
Haven’t you noticed hurricanes, cyclones and other storms have become more powerful in recent years? And that extreme weather events like record flooding, droughts and heat waves are happening more frequently? In 2012 extreme weather records were broken all over the US. In 2011 there were 14 separate billion-dollar-plus weather disasters in the US including flooding, hurricanes and tornados.
Did you notice my relatives? They’ve been all over the planet. In the past 20 years extreme events have had major impacts on developing countries like Bangladesh, Burma and Honduras that have suffered most in terms of damages and lives lost.
Last year, we displaced 38 million people with climate-related disasters such as the flooding in Pakistan and China.
And all this is happening in part because the air and sea have become warmer over the past 50 years. The world has already warmed 0.8C and will rise to least 1.6 C even if emissions of the hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning coal, oil, and natural gas ended today. (There is a time lag in the climate system. The current global warming is result of CO2 emissions from the 1950s-1970s)
You should bear that reality in mind. There is twice as much warming to come, guaranteed. I’m sorry to say it may be too late to do enough to prevent threefold (3X) or even fourfold (4X) increase in the current warming.
Canada is 1.3 C warmer today than 50 years ago. It will be 4C warmer in a few decades. Temperatures in the US will not be far behind.
You can dial down the thermostat if you really want to.
I was born just over a week ago and more than 100 people have died in the US and Caribbean region as a result. For the rest of today please take care as I will continue to bring strong winds, heavy rains and snowfall from North Carolina to well into Canada. Some of the worst flooding hit Haiti in the hours after I’d passed by.
You should also know there are more superstorms (more properly anthrostorms) like me coming. Not today or next week but in the near future. The climate is now supercharged with extra heat energy. I’ve called it like being on steroids. The climate is 0.8C (1F) warmer. That’s the average increase over the entire planet. Many places are much warmer such as the Arctic where it is 2 to 3C warmer on average now.
In a few decades the entire planet will be 2 to 3C warmer — a 300 percent increase over today. That means an incredible amount of additional heat will be trapped in the atmosphere in order to raise temperatures that much.
Storms and extreme weather are powered by heat energy. I don’t want to think what will be coming.
It doesn’t have to go that way.
Believe it or not, the reality is that humanity is in control of the global thermostat. The increase in temperatures in the air and oceans is mainly due to emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). Those emissions of CO2 come from burning coal, oil, and gas and cutting down most of the world’s forests (trees take CO2 from the air to grow).
The US could shift from energy sources emitting CO2 to 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2030 studies have shown.[Scientific American article] The entire planet could run on 100 percent renewable sources by 2050.
FORBES GREEN TECH | 10/30/2012 @ 3:39PM Copenhagen Shows How Cities Can Become Clean Tech Leaders
Sandy here again. Early this morning I turned north-northwest and am about 500 km (300 mi) southeast of New York City. I am probably the largest storm on record, spanning 3,200 km (2000 mi). I wanted to stay out at sea but a massive band of cold air and low pressure over the Great Lakes region has pulled me in this direction. The coming collision between very cold and moist, warm air will make me more powerful and dangerous: a historic SuperStorm.
It’s impossible to say for certain if the record melt of sea ice in the Arctic is responsible for this. I do know that most of the Arctic sea ice melted this year. Ice reflects the sun’s energy but the dark ocean absorbs it. In order for the Arctic ocean to freeze again the heat has to be released into the air. Right now there are record amounts of heat energy getting into atmosphere up there.
This has been happening every fall for the last few years. It is no surprise that all that extra heat being released has been disrupting weather patterns. The jet stream – the west-to-east winds that are the boundary between the cold Arctic and the warm mid-latitudes – is slowing down, moving north and become more erratic.
Another factor that’s pushed me into the US northeast is a massive dome of high pressure located southwest of Greenland. Without this high-pressure block I probably would have resisted the pull of the low pressure system and stayed out to sea. That high pressure system has been locked in place for weeks – weather geeks call it a ‘blocking event’. It delivered a record span of warm temperatures and a record melt of the Greenland ice sheet.
I’ve used the word ‘record’ a lot. That’s because the climate has shifted into uncharted territory because more heat and moisture is being trapped in the atmosphere by an ever thicker blanket of CO2. This summer’s record heat and drought in the US is just one example of this “uncharted territory”.
Things are going to keep changing. Storms like me may get bigger. We may come more often, or we may just show up in places where we don’t usually go. There is no way to know.
All you can be sure of is that the climate of the past 20 and more centuries is gone. I am part of the new normal.