A study published in 2017 found that these types of warming events have been increasing in frequency and duration during winter as the Arctic continues to warm at more than twice the rate of the rest of the globe.
The Arctic was 5.1 degrees Celsius warmer than normal on February 27, following several days of unusually hot weather. Climate Reanalyzer
“What’s exactly driving these changes is not clear, but having storm tracks move further north (i.e. the North Atlantic storm track) may be tied to the northward retreat of the ice edge,” said Julienne Stroeve, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, in an email.
“Thus, while having temperatures exceed freezing during winter is not uncommon, but it may be becoming more common as the climate changes and the ice edge continues to retreat.”
Stroeve said that it’s not just summer and fall sea ice showing steep declines, but that this is occurring year round now. “What it shows us too is that the winter sea ice is now also starting to respond as every winter now for the past 4 winters has been more extreme than the year before in terms of record low sea ice,” she said….
An estimated 200,000 critically endangered saiga – around 60% of the world’s population – died throughout Kazakhstan in 2015
Mass mortality events (MME), a single, catastrophic incident that wipes out vast numbers of a species in a short period of time, are on the rise and likely to become more common because of climate change.
….The saiga – whose migrations form one of the great wildlife spectacles – were victims of a mass mortality event (MME), a single, catastrophic incident that wipes out vast numbers of a species in a short period of time. MMEs are among the most extreme events of nature. They affect starfish, bats, coral reefs and sardines. They can push species to the brink of extinction, or throw a spanner into the complex web of life in an ecosystem. And according to some scientists, MMEs are on the rise and likely to become more common because of climate change….
…[Scientists] concluded that a rise in temperature to 37C and an increase in humidity above 80% in the previous few days had stimulated the bacteria to pass into the bloodstream where it caused haemorrhagic septicaemia, or blood poisoning…
…Untangling the causes – and working out the role of climate change in MMEs is difficult. “In many cases, there are multiple stressors – such as, in the case of the saiga, a low-lying bacterial infection, slightly higher humidity and higher temperatures,” says Siepielski….
…An MME can push a species closer to extinction. But it can also have knock-on effects elsewhere in the fragile food web. In tidal pools on the west coast, where once there was a healthy mix of species, mussels – food for starfish – are starting to dominate. Off California, another source of starfish food, sea urchins, are also on the rise – causing a fall in the availability of kelp, the sea urchins’ main food source. That decline could hit species that depend on it for shelter, food and protection. A paper published last year in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society concluded that the die-off was probably linked to warmer seas….
Even if we stay under 2C, extreme events -heat, floods, drought – will become more likely in the decades ahead. And if countries do not meet the Paris climate agreement goals, the risks will be even greater
Overall, up to 60% of locations across North America, Europe, East Asia and parts of southern South America would likely see at least a 3x and up to 5x increase in some areas increase in various extreme events, according to a Stanford study published yesterday in the journal Science Advances.
The country pledges to the Paris climate accord may put the world on track to warm by about 3 C, unless significantly greater climate action is promised—and soon.
Events like record-setting heat, extreme rainfall and drought will happen more frequently around the world even if global climate targets are met, new research suggests. And missing those targets could make the risk even worse.
…the pledges world nations have submitted under the Paris Agreement are likely still not enough to keep global temperatures within the 2 C threshold envisioned by the accord. Experts suggest that the pledges may put the world on track to warm by about 3 C, unless significantly greater climate action is promised—and soon.
“In addition to not meeting the global temperature target, those commitments also imply substantial increase in the probability of record-setting events,” said Noah Diffenbaugh, a Stanford University climate researcher and the new study’s lead author. “Not only hot events but wet events, and also in other regions of the world, dry events as well.”…
….Heat records are likely to be among the most sensitive to future climate change. Record-breaking nighttime temperatures have already been increasing across 90 percent of the studied areas, the research suggests, and these records may increase by at least fivefold across half of Europe and a quarter of East Asia.Extreme wet events and milder cold spells are also expected to increase throughout the world, and extreme dry events will see an uptick in certain regions, mainly in the midlatitudes.
Strengthening the Paris pledges could help significantly reduce the risks of extreme climate events, the new research suggests, although it warns that these events will still become more frequent in the future, even if temperature increases stay under 2 C.
….The findings, overall, carry a double warning. First, even with aggressive climate action, extreme climate events are likely to increase throughout much of the world—and human societies should brace themselves for that future, no matter what. But those mitigation efforts are still sorely needed, the research also suggests. Without them, the risks could be far more intense.
Noah S. Diffenbaugh, Deepti Singh, and Justin S. Mankin. Unprecedented climate events: Historical changes, aspirational targets, and national commitments. Science Advances, 14 Feb 2018 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao3354
California is spending billions to protect the millions at risk of a megaflood, but thanks to climate change, it’s too little too late.
California’s megaflood isn’t the stuff of fantasy flicks, it’s based on a 200-plus page piece of science that tested the limits of what was humanly possible in disaster prediction eight years ago known as the ARkStorm scenario… designed with an explicit purpose in mind: to objectively quantify and qualify the California’s threat of a coming flood that only a small group of niche scientists knew the bounds of at the time.
Climate change is increasing the chances that not only will these rare flood events become the norm in California, but that in the decades to come they could be even more intense than the one predicted here.
….The water will linger for days, weeks and in some places months. By the time it subsides the final toll will redefine the word catastrophe: More than $850 billion in damages (adjusted for inflation), more than four times costlier than Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. More than a million people forced to flee their homes in one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history, and many who return will return to nothing.
This is California’s megaflood, a catastrophe not seen in a lifetime, but one scientists, disaster experts and officials know is coming in a warming world. No one knows when it will come, but it has happened in centuries past, and these are just some of its scientifically predicted and realistic impacts in modern day California.
Now climate change is increasing the chances that not only will these rare flood events become the norm in California, but that in the decades to come they could be even more intense than the one predicted here.
California’s once-in-centuries catastrophe is no longer a future problem. Billions of dollars of local, state and federal action to bolster the state’s outdated flood protections have come too late and isn’t enough to protect the millions of Californians currently at risk of such an event and the millions more who will be at risk in the decades to come.
Californians are playing climate catch-up in a state that’s ground zero for climate change’s future megafloods…..
Of that $550 million, $350 million is designated to the DWR for flood management in the Central Valley, including $50 million specifically set aside for levee repairs in the San Joaquin and Sacramento Deltas.
Some $100 million is available for grants for “stormwater, mudslide, and other flash-flood-related protections” and another $100 million for grants for “multibenefit projects in urbanized areas to address flooding” statewide.
But the bill’s primary goal is investment in parks, particularly in communities without access to parks, leaving flood protection as a footnote. The bill’s author, Kevin De León called it “the single largest investment in the history of the United States to park-starved communities.”
The proposed November bond, drafted by the former deputy secretary of the state Natural Resources Agency, Jerry Meral, aims to be “complementary” to the June ballot measure and “make sure that no critical problem was totally ignored,” filling in some of the gaps of flood protection funding from the June bond. …
Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, California Department of Water Resources (2013)
This January 1862 photo shows floodwaters along K Street looking west from 4th street in Sacramento after the Great Flood of 1861-62. (California State Library, DWR)
Changing Climate, Changing Floods
Climate change’s expected increase in temperatures and extreme precipitation will combine to produce more epic floods in California. This graphic shows how warmer temperatures will melt snowpack quicker and dump more rain and less snow on mountain ranges, leading to more prolific floods. Source: California Department of Water Resources 2017
One of the 23,000 homes flooded during the 1997 floods in California. (Norm Hughes/California Department of Water Resources)
the 2016 global heat record, a deadly heat wave in Southeast Asia, and “marine hot spots” that led to devastating coral bleaching could not have occurred without the influence of human-caused global warming.
we are manufacturing our own extremes according to scientists at the 2017 American Geophysical Union’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans
The reason we know this tipping point in extreme weather and climate events has been passed is because of a growing sub-field within climate science, known as detection and attribution research. Scientists who work in this field are the climate equivalent of CSI investigators, probing for clues about what may have led to an extreme event soon after it occurs. …
…..Scientists tend to shy away from bold pronouncements. But this year’s report is different…..On Wednesday, at the American Geophysical Union’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans, ….. contributors to 2016’s edition threw much of that typical caution to the increasingly gusty wind.
The message of the 2016 attribution issue is that a sea change has occurred in our understanding of what we, by burning fossil fuels for energy, are doing to our weather. In short, we’re now manufacturing our own extremes, scientists said.
It can no longer be said that we are simply raising the odds of particular events, or making them more severe, or both. In fact, we’re now pushing the climate into new territory entirely, researchers said.
In other words, instead of realizing the sci-fi fantasy of controlling our weather, we’ve done everything possible to push the atmosphere toward a new, more malevolent form of chaos.
Out of the 27 extreme events examined in the peer reviewed report, investigators looking into three of them — the 2016 global heat record, a deadly heat wave in Southeast Asia, and “marine hot spots” that led to devastating coral bleaching — concluded that the events could not have occurred without the influence of human-caused global warming. In other words, take away global warming, and these things probably wouldn’t have happened. …
…Regarding the 2016 global temperature record, scientists concluded that at least part of the warmth was due to a strong El Niño event, but that most of the warm temperature record was due to human-caused climate change during the past 100 years.
…Another study in the BAMS issue found that extreme heat in Southeast Asia, particularly India and Thailand, near the end of 2016 “would not have been possible without climate change.” ….
The risks are big, and they’re rising, a new report says.
The GAO says, if emissions stay on their current course, rising temperatures could mean up to $150 billion in lost labor productivity due to missed work hours, up to $89 billion in coastal damage and up to $87 billion in increased energy costs, annually. Agricultural losses could reach $53 billion a year, even though some crop yields could climb.
The auditing arm of Congress says the costs of climate change are likely to soar in the decades ahead, and it is urging the federal government to get a better grip on the risks to the economy and to the federal budget.
The Government Accountability Office, in a report issued on Tuesday, cited a range of research concluding that the costs of worsening droughts, floods, wildfires, heat waves and storms will run into hundreds of billions of dollars and threaten many parts of the economy, while hitting some regions particularly hard.
But so far, it said, too little is being done to understand and defend against the dangers.
“Even with the magnitude of these disaster recovery costs, the federal government does not have government-wide strategic planning efforts in place to help set clear priorities for managing significant climate risks before they become federal fiscal exposures,” the report says.
Already, the report noted, direct costs to the federal government for expenses like firefighting, flood insurance and payments for lost crops have come to about $350 billion in the past decade. (The figures don’t include tens of billions yet to be paid for the latest season of storms and fires; and the costs inflicted across the whole economy are much bigger than those reflected in the federal budget.)…
As the recent floods from Bangladesh to Texas show, it’s not just the unprecedented magnitude of storms that can cause disaster: it’s urbanisation.
From sponge cities in China to ‘berms with benefits’ in New Jersey and floating container classrooms in the slums of Dhaka, we look at a range of projects that treat storm water as a resource rather than a hazard.
They call it “pave, pipe, and pump”: the mentality that has dominated urban development for over a century. Along with the explosion of the motorcar in the early 20th century came paved surfaces. Rainwater – instead of being sucked up by plants, evaporating, or filtering through the ground back to rivers and lakes – was suddenly forced to slide over pavements and roads into drains, pipes and sewers. Their maximum capacities are based on scenarios such as 10-year storms. And once they clog, the water – with nowhere else to go – simply rises.
The reality of climate change and more frequent and intense downpours has exposed the hubris of this approach. As the recent floods from Bangladesh to Texas show, it’s not just the unprecedented magnitude of storms that can cause disaster: it’s urbanisation.
…With climate change both a reality and threat, many architects and urbanists are pushing creative initiatives for cities that treat stormwater as a resource, rather than a hazard….
…In China, the government has commissioned the construction of 16 “Sponge Cities” to pilot solutions for the freshwater scarcity and flooding suffered in many cities as a result of rapid urbanisation. Chicago architectural firm UrbanLab was commissioned to design the masterplan for Yangming Archipelago in Hunan province: a new centre within the larger city of Changde, devised as a “new model for the future”.
The area, a low-lying land river basin that experiences heavy rainfall, is regularly flooded. Instead of incorporating defences against water, UrbanLab put space for it to flow at the centre of its urban plan, putting major buildings on islands in an enormous central lake. Canal-lined streets that UrbanLab call “Eco-boulevards” connect the eight districts – the process is visualised in this video.
UrbanLab says their vision combines a dense metropolis with a nature setting: “As a functional center, Yangming Archipelago will serve as an urban model, we expect it to lead the way to a new way of thinking about the city of the future.”
Permeable pavements: Chicago’s ‘green alleys’
Rainwater travels through the self-cleaning, pollution-reducing sidewalk before going on to feed surrounding plants…
…In New Jersey and New York…in response to Sandy, ZUS partnered with MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism and De Urbanisten to devise New Meadowlands: a masterplan for combining flood resilience with recreational amenities through marshes and a system of parallel raised banks called berms.
Between the outer berm and the sea, the restored wetlands would soak up seawater and slow down tidal waves, preventing them from hitting the dikes at high speed. The stretch of berms would serve as a wildlife refuge, filling up with rainwater during periods of heavy rain before draining out. And on the insider of the inner berm, ditches and ponds would retain rainwater, preventing it from causing sewers to overflow….
When the strong winds that circle the Arctic slacken, cold polar air can escape and cause extreme winter chills in parts of the Northern hemisphere. A new study finds that these weak states have become more persistent over the past four decades and can be linked to cold winters in Russia and Europe.
…[This study is the] first to show that changes in winds high up in the stratosphere substantially contributed to the observed winter cooling trend in northern Eurasia. While it is still a subject of research how the Arctic under climate change impacts the rest of the world, this study lends further support that a changing Arctic impacts the weather across large swaths of the Northern Hemisphere population centers….
…Despite global warming, recent winters in the Northeastern US, Europe and especially Asia were anomalously cold — some regions like Western Siberia even show a downward temperature trend in winter. In stark contrast, the Arctic has been warming rapidly. Paradoxically, both phenomena are likely linked: When sea-ice North of Scandinavia and Russia melts, the uncovered ocean releases more warmth into the atmosphere and this can impact the atmosphere up to about 30 kilometers height in the stratosphere disturbing the polar vortex. Weak states of the high-altitude wind circling the Arctic then favors the occurrence of cold spells in the mid-latitudes.
….”Jet Stream changes can lead to more abrupt and surprising disturbances to which society has to adapt. The uncertainties are quite large, but global warming provides a clear risk given its potential to disturb circulation patterns driving our weather — including potentially disastrous extremes.”
Marlene Kretschmer, Dim Coumou, Laurie Agel, Mathew Barlow, Eli Tziperman, Judah Cohen. More-Persistent Weak Stratospheric Polar Vortex States Linked to Cold Extremes. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2017; DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0259.1
The navy is focusing most of its climate change efforts not on mitigation but on adaptation over the next few decades.
Mitigation and adaptation have to addressed together
Climate change is a continuous, accelerating process creating the need to plan for an increasingly dynamic world.
Strategies include “no regrets” but also “bets” to avoid potentially disastrous outcomes.
by Forest L. Reinhardt and Michael W. Toffel, Harvard Business Review July–August 2017 Issue Read full article here
The United States Navy operates on the front lines of climate change. It manages tens of billions of dollars of assets on every continent and on every ocean. Those assets—ships, submarines, aircraft, naval bases, and the technology that links everything together—take many years to design and build and then have decades of useful life. This means that the navy needs to understand now what sorts of missions it may be required to perform in 10, 20, or 30 years and what assets and infrastructure it will need to carry out those missions. Put another way, it needs to plan for the world that will exist at that time.
The Department of Defense is clear-eyed about the challenges climate change poses….Leaders across the political spectrum, including former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis, have all noted the security implications of global warming. Like many other organizations, the navy cannot afford to treat climate change as a partisan issue. The Department of Defense knows that the mid-century world for which the admirals are now planning is likely to be warmer than today’s, with higher sea levels, new precipitation patterns, and more frequent and severe extreme weather events, imperiling and destabilizing many regions domestically and abroad. This creates two problems that exacerbate each other and that the navy needs to address simultaneously….[mitigation – GHG reduction– and adaptation– planning to operate in a changing world.]
…Climate change is not a onetime bump from one equilibrium to a warmer one but, rather, a continuous, accelerating process. This creates the need to plan not for a new static world but for an increasingly dynamic one….
….The navy is focusing most of its climate change efforts not on mitigation but on adaptation. As the world’s climate alters, the navy must address both increased demand for its services and an impaired capacity to deliver those services…
….Some of the navy’s actions to address climate change make sense even if climate change doesn’t alter the world as much or as quickly as scientists are forecasting. These are win-win, or “no regrets,” investments. …They follow a no-regrets strategy: They deliver payoffs whether or not climate change occurs at forecasted rates…
…But many of the actions that the navy needs to take to confront climate change don’t have this characteristic….Not every risk can be hedged, so it pursues a “bets strategy,” informed by the best possible scientific forecasts. While the investments will yield benefits only if the forecasts are correct, doing nothing could be catastrophic. …
Businesspeople, however, like to talk about no-regrets tactics, especially in the arena of climate change—for example, making climate-related investments in supply chains that will pay for themselves even if the climate doesn’t alter. These tactics may seem easy and uncontroversial; but pursuing exclusively no-regrets strategies involves choosing not to place considered bets. That course of action is fraught with risk—and could be disastrous.,,,
…it’s time to move beyond no-regrets efforts…
[Leaders] must examine their operational and supply-chain resilience in light of rising temperatures, higher sea levels, and changing precipitation patterns, leading to heavier downpours and droughts and more frequent and severe extreme weather events—the manifestations of climate change for which the Department of Defense is planning. They need to consider what sorts of products and services will be more valuable, or less, in a climate-altered world. They must identify the new geographic scope over which they can or must be active. They need to design and operate the information and control systems that will allow them to integrate the new imperatives with the old. And they need to understand the demands that climate change will impose on their ability to lead the men and women in their organizations.
The navy is a microcosm of society at large. Despite its amazing power, it cannot afford the luxury of ideology. It has to operate and fight in the world as it exists and to plan to operate and fight in the world we are creating. …
Interview with Harvard Business School professors about how a giant, global enterprise [the Navy] that operates and owns assets at sea level is fighting climate change—and adapting to it. They discuss what the private sector can learn from the U.S. Navy’s scientific and sober view of the world. Reinhardt and Toffel are the authors of “Managing Climate Change: Lessons from the U.S. Navy” in the July–August 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review….
…businesses looking to mitigate and adapt to climate change should really be following the example of an organization fighting it at sea level. The U.S. Navy is raising its bases, using early storm warning systems, and increasingly powering its missions with the sun, instead of fossil fuels...
….mitigation is no longer a substitute for adaptation. We have to think of them as complements.…organizations, whether they’re firms or the U.S. military, have not only to be thinking about their carbon footprints but also the changes in their own physical environments which are already taking place as a result of the build-up of our carbon dioxide and other ways gases in the atmosphere ….
..in the latest sign of how quickly changes are happening, new research published this week shows that the Arctic has seen more frequent bouts of warm air and longer stretches of mild weather. The new findings show that while warm snaps have occurred even as far as back as the 1890s, a massive shift is afoot in the region, which is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world…
Background temperatures have also been rising faster there. The North Pole region has warmed 2.3°F (1.3°C) per decade since 1979, a trend largely driven by climate change. Though the new study doesn’t tease out whether the increase in warm days is due directly to climate change, it’s part of a hugepileofevidence of how rising carbon pollution is altering the Arctic faster than the rest of the world….
….The winter of 2015-2016, for example, saw temperatures nearly 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) warmer than the previous record high monthly winter temperature. At the end of December 2015, scientists recorded a temperature of 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2.2 degrees Celsius) in the Central Arctic, the warmest temperature ever recorded in this region from December through March.
…On average, the Atlantic side of the North Pole now has ten warming events each winter, while the Pacific Central Arctic has five such events, according to the study. More storms come in to the Arctic from the Atlantic Ocean during winter, which results in more warming events on the Atlantic side of the North Pole….
Robert M. Graham, Lana Cohen, Alek A. Petty, Linette N. Boisvert, Annette Rinke, Stephen R. Hudson, Marcel Nicolaus, Mats A. Granskog. Increasing frequency and duration of Arctic winter warming events. Geophysical Research Letters, 2017; DOI: 10.1002/2017GL073395