Saturday 30 May 2015

The floods in Texas and Alaska and global warming

Texas & Alaska Floods: El Nino & Hot Oceans Start a Year of Hellish Weather. It Will Get Worse.

There's too much heat in the oceans. Way too much heat.

Daily Kos,
27 May, 2015

Much warmer than normal water surrounds the U.S. A super El Nino is building.
Hot water has surged across the equator in the Pacific and a deep pool of very hot water is building off of Mexico's west coast. Tropical convection has shifted westward with the hot water.

Global CO2 levels have rapidly risen above 400ppm causing a large imbalance between incoming and outgoing radiation levels. Almost all of the difference between incoming and outgoing amounts of energy has gone into heating the oceans. The warm subtropical waters of the global oceans expanded, the Indian ocean warmed and a large, deep pool of hot water grew around the Philippines. But then three supertyphoons rocked the Pacific in late fall 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, with had the strongest winds ever recorded at landfall, "broke the dam" created by years of stronger than normal tropical convection and strong trade winds that held an enormous body of hot water close to the Philippines.  A first surge of hot water moved across the Pacific in spring 2014, lowering the height of the seas around the Philippines but stronger than normal trade winds kept blowing in the south Pacific holding huge amounts of excess heat near Indonesia. 

Then supercyclone Pam and the strongest convective burst ever recorded near Indonesia and Australia, sent a massive wave of hot water towards the Americas. Now a super El Nino is developing.

The super El Nino is moving the global center of tropical convection towards the Americas. More moisture than normal is available to storms in the U.S. now, because of the excess vapor rising of the overheated waters. Strong trade winds in the tropical Atlantic have blown Atlantic moisture towards Texas where it converged with winds and moisture from the Pacific.

Much warmer than normal water in the Pacific ocean and the Gulf of Mexico were the source of  an exceptionally wet surge of air (in green) that converged over Texas and Oklahoma, causing severe flooding.
Much warmer than normal water in the Pacific ocean and the Gulf of Mexico were the source of an exceptionally wet surge of air (in green) that converged over Texas and Oklahoma, causing severe flooding.

On the other side of the world, the monsoon in India is likely to be weak and delayed as they suffer from weak winds and overheated air. Hundreds of Indians are dying in the heat as the combination of temperature and humidity becomes too hot to work outside. Vulnerable people who lack air conditioning will die. Hundreds have already died, but the toll will likely rise into the thousands as the weak monsoon fails to relieve the unbearable heat which is already approaching 120F and 50°C. Weak monsoons and extreme heat in India are a known consequence of El Nino, but global warming is making it more deadly.

This year monsoon rains have come to Texas and Oklahoma instead of searing heat and drought.

Never attempt to cross rapidly flowing water. Turn around. Don't drown.
Reportedly the driver survived, but the Jeep was not so lucky.
At the same time that Texas was flooding Alaska was flooding, too, because a record breaking heat wave caused the rapid melting of almost of all of Alaska's snow.  
A record breaking May heatwave has rapidly melted all the snow causing extreme flooding in northern Alaska and northwestern Canada.
A record breaking May heatwave has rapidly melted all the snow causing extreme flooding in northern Alaska and northwestern Canada.
The flooding of multiple rivers cut off the north slope's main road, the Dalton highway, oil fields and the airport in Deadhorse, Alaska. Workers were cut off from the north slope oil fields.

The extraordinary Alaskan heat combined with heat in the Barents sea on the Atlantic side of the Arctic has driven Arctic sea ice extent (best measured by Japanese scientists) to record low levels for late May.
Arctic sea ice extent determined precisely by Japanese scientists is at record low levels for late May.
Arctic sea ice extent determined precisely by Japanese scientists is at record low levels for late May.
The record low sea ice extent combined with the early snow melt in the northern hemisphere have exposed dark ground and open water. Instead of white snow reflecting the intense late May sunlight, the land and water are taking up the solar heat. The unseasonable heat has also caused extensive melt ponds to form on the sea ice north of Alaska. Melt ponds are much darker than snow covered sea ice and rapidly take up solar energy. The ice in this area north of Alaska will rapidly melt out.

Melt ponds have formed on sea ice north of Alaska in response to very warm temperatures for May.
Extremely warm temperatures for mid to late May caused extensive melt ponds to form on sea ice north of Alaska. Light and heat get through the ice under ponds to speed up melting.
The early warmth tends to lead to even more heat and melting as summer progresses. This affect of reduced ice and snow (and increased water vapor) is called Arctic amplification because it amplifies Arctic warming. January through April 2015 were the warmest first four months ever on record globally. The building El Nino and Arctic amplification almost certainly will make 2015 the warmest year on record by a significant margin. Moreover, the extraordinary amounts of oceanic heat in the north Pacific and north Atlantic and record atmospheric warmth have a strong chance of melting Arctic sea ice to record low levels this summer. Low sea ice levels will then affect fall and winter weather patterns.

The tropical cyclone season is off to a record start with 5 category 5 storms before the end of May. Typhoon Maysak, which ravaged Micronesia and the western Pacific with sustained winds up to 160 mph was the most powerful early season (before April) typhoon on record.

"The eye of Maysak, as seen from the ISS, displaying a pronounced stadium effect." "Typhoon Maysak, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Chedeng, was an unusually intense early-season tropical cyclone and the most powerful pre-April typhoon on record in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean.[1][2] Maysak affected Yap and Chuuk State in the Federated States of Micronesia, as well as the Philippines."

An unusual number of Category 5 storms so far in 2015
May 16 is exceptionally early to be getting our third Category 5 storm of the year in the Northwest Pacific. The global record for Category 5 storms is held by the El Niño year of 1997, which had twelve Category 5 storms--ten of them in the Northwest Pacific. The third Cat 5 of 1997 in the Northwest Pacific occurred on July 22, so we are more than two months ahead of that year's record pace. Dolphin is also the earliest-appearing 7th named storm of the Northwest Pacific's typhoon season; the previous record was on May 19, 1971. Super Typhoon Dolphin is already Earth's fifth Category Five storm this year, which is an unusually large number of these high-end tropical cyclones for so early in the year. Earth averaged just 4.6 Category 5 storms per year between 1990 - 2014, so we've already exceeded our average for an entire year; 2015 already has the 6th most Category 5 storms for any year in the past 26 years (reliable satellite records of Southern Hemisphere tropical cyclones extend back to 1990, so we only have about a 26-year period of decent records for global Category 5 tropical cyclones.) The majority of these storms occur during the July - November peak of the Northern Hemisphere's tropical cyclone season, with 59% of all Cat 5s occurring in the Northwest Pacific, so it is likely we will see several more Cat 5s this year. The early and violent start to 2015 typhoon season is due, in part, to exceptionally warm ocean temperatures in the typhoon breeding region between 5 - 10°N near the Date Line. These temperatures have been over 2°C (3.6°F) above average in recent months, due to a strengthening El Niño event.
This is just the beginning of the hurricane season in the eastern and central Pacific but hot water already covers a huge area from the tropics south of Hawaii to the huge warm pool off of the southwest coast of Mexico. A tropical disturbance is now in the process of organizing. I was stunned to find that the model of potential tropical cyclone intensity is off scale, The potential intensity, which will not be reached for this disturbance, is lower than the lowest pressure in history. While this disturbance will likely not have enough time over warm water to become a major hurricane, conditions will be more favorable later in the season for extremely intense hurricanes to develop. Warmer than normal water extends across the tropical north Pacific. Conditions are potentially developing for this to become the most intense Pacific tropical cyclone season on record.

A deep pool of water warm enough to support a strong category 5 hurricane has built up off the southwest coast of Mexico.
East Pacific water temperatures are already warm enough to support a category 5 hurricane. A more detailed map than this one shows that the potential intensity has gone off scale.
Strong trade winds normally cool the summer waters from California to the east coast of the big island of Hawaii, protecting the islands from dangerous hurricanes. This year the winds are backing off and the warm water is spreading northwards in the central Pacific ocean. Category 4 Hurricane Iniki devastated Kauai in the El Nino year of 1992. This year the Hawaiian islands face the threat of another devastating year like 1992. Conditions across the tropical Pacific will be extremely warm. An outbreak of extreme hurricanes and typhoons can be expected across the Pacific this year. We can hope that they stay out to sea. The extraordinary build up of heat in the central and eastern Pacific will lead to an extreme hurricane season there. Moreover, when heat builds up in the central Pacific, tropical disturbances form west of Hawaii, and frequently develop into intense long-track typhoons in the western Pacific. The surf will be up across the Pacific this summer and fall.

1 comment:

  1. The absolute chaos you can see in this link is derived from .85C above baseline, the IPCC arbitrary target is 2C and it is going to be vastly surpassed. 4C in the short term, 6C long term, imagine that and try and sleep at night.


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