Wednesday 24 June 2015

The Dying Earth - 06/24/2015

Heat Wave Death Toll Rises to 2,000 in Pakistan’s Financial Hub
Karachi Heat Wave

A heat wave in Pakistan’s financial hub of Karachi and surrounding areas has killed about 2,000 people in the past two weeks, the most in recent memory.

Temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) have claimed about 1,500 lives in Karachi and 500 in other parts of southern Sindh province, according to Anwaar Kazmi, a spokesman for rescue agency Edhi Foundation. Most of the victims have been elderly, he said.

There is no space left in the government hospitals to keep the dead bodies,” Kazmi, who runs the largest private ambulance service in Karachi, said by phone on Wednesday. He said the death toll was a record from a heat wave.

An update from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology on the el-Nino

Current state of the Pacific and Indian Ocean

El Niño consolidates

The 2015 El Niño continues to strengthen. Central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean sea surface temperature indices are more than 1 °C above average for the sixth consecutive week. International climate models surveyed by the Bureau of Meteorology indicate further consolidation is likely.
El Niño events typically strengthen during the second half of the year, reaching full strength during late spring or early summer. It is not possible at this stage to determine how strong this El Niño will be.

El Niño is typically associated with below-average winter and spring rainfall over eastern Australia and above-average daytime temperatures over the southern half of the country during the second half of the year. The strength of an El Niño does not always determine the strength of its effects on Australia's climate. There are examples of weak El Niño events resulting in widespread drought and strong El Niño events with little impact on rainfall.

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is currently neutral. Of the five international models that provide IOD outlooks, three suggest a positive IOD is likely during the southern spring. A positive IOD is typically associated with reduced winter and spring rainfall over parts of southern and central Australia.

Meanwhile here is an update from the beginning of June from New Zealand's NIWA .

NIWA Outlook: June-August 2015

This is so important that there is no picture, no video

The worst drought in five years is creeping across the Caribbean, prompting officials around the region to brace for a bone dry summer.

From Puerto Rico to Cuba to the eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia, crops are withering, reservoirs are drying up and cattle are dying while forecasters worry that the situation could only grow worse in the coming months.

Thanks to El Nino, a warming of the tropical Pacific that affects global weather, forecasters expect the hurricane season that began in June to be quieter than normal, with a shorter period of rains. That means less water to help refill Puerto Rico's thirsty Carraizo and La Plata reservoirs as well as the La Plata river in the central island community of Naranjito. A tropical disturbance that hit the U.S. territory on Monday did not fill up those reservoirs as officials had anticipated.

Kujira formed on Saturday morning, EDT, or Saturday evening local time, in the South China Sea. Kujira has since moved to the north and made a first landfall on Hainan Island Monday night, local time, then a second landfall just south of Hanoi on Wednesday.

Kujira continues to unleash flooding rain and gusty wind across southern China, and these threats will continue into Wednesday. Conditions will deteriorate across northern Vietnam.

The last 50 years of gains in development and global health could be undone by the "medical emergency" that is the threat of climate change to human health, scientists said today.

However, the report by a new global commission, published in major medical journal The Lancet, showed comprehensive evidence that tackling climate change through ways like reducing air pollution and improving diet could be one of the greatest chances to improve global health this century.

According to present projections, the mean temperature in New Zealand could be 2C higher by the end of the century - and even between 3C and 4C higher if no action is taken to curb the world's carbon emissions.

Within the same period, sea level is expected to rise between 50cm and 120cm, leaving populations to adapt by either abandoning coasts and islands, changing infrastructure and coastal zones, or protecting areas with barriers or dykes.

Unnatural Disaster: How Global Warming Helped Cause India’s Catastrophic Flood

The flood that swept through the Indian state of Uttarakhand two years ago killed thousands of people and was one of the worst disasters in the nation’s recent history. Now researchers are saying that melting glaciers and shifting storm tracks played a major role in the catastrophe and should be a warning about how global warming could lead to more damaging floods in the future.

In this article Israel is suffering from drought although (by being omitted), Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Iran are not (sic). South America is also omitted

Need proof that we’re having the hottest year on record? Scorching heat is searing parts of the world, sparking wildfires and claiming lives due to heat stroke and dehydration.

Death toll from Pakistan heat wave reaches 474

Now 700

A brutal heat wave kicking in later this week may shatter June or even a few all-time records in parts of the Great Basin and Northwest. Furthermore, it may last into the first days of July.

The National Weather Service in Portland, Oregon, has already issued an excessive heat watch for parts of northwest Oregon and southwest Washington, including the Willamette Valley cities of Portland, Salem and Eugene.

June has already been a hot month in parts of the West.

Earlier in the month, Yakima, Washington, tied its all-time June high of 105 degrees. This occurred 15 days earlier on the calendar than the previous June 105-degree high. Medford, Oregon, is pacing for their hottest June on record, dating to 1911. Portland, Oregon, has already tallied 4 days of 90-degree-plus heat this month through Tuesday, just 2 days shy of the June record set in 2003.

Toronto storm floods streets and shuts down trains as lightning licks at buildings

Lightning hits the CN Tower during a storm on Monday night and early Tuesday morning.
A powerful band of storms rattled southern Ontario, flooding roads and shutting down trains early Tuesday.

Tornado warnings were issued because of the storms, and although there were no confirmed strikes, at least one possible twister was spotted by a storm chaser in Goderich on the Lake Huron shoreline. Environment Canada said it was looking into the report.

This is the country with all the water

Idled dams, reduced harvest and curtailed salmon fishing some of the fallout if hot, dry weather continues

Plague of Astrakhan: Locust swarm blots out the sun in Russian region

Near-Biblical scenes are emerging from the Astrakhan region in southern Russia, which has been invaded by giant swarms of locusts. Local authorities have scrambled vehicles and aircraft to combat the infestation.

The voracious insects are migrating dozens of kilometers every day, consuming crops as they go. Parts of the region have been put on high emergency alert.

The Prime Minister is reluctant to blame climate change for a spate of flooding events throughout the country.

Parts of the lower North Island have been inundated, only weeks after flooding in Dunedin, and before that, Wellington.

John Key reports it's hard to pinpoint the cause of severe weather.

"Certainly the advice we get from the scientific community is that the likelihood of climate change effects occurring are firming up, and certainly some people would associate it with this, but I'm just not sure you can make that call."

It’s illegal to knowingly ignore the dangers of global warming.

That was essentially the ruling Wednesday from a Dutch court, which ordered the government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2020 in order to preserve the low-lying Netherlands and protect its people from the dangers of global warming.

The Hague District Court agreed with the more than 900 plaintiffs, organized by the sustainability advocacy group Urgenda, that the Dutch government has taken “insufficient action against climate change.” The plaintiffs had asked the court to prompt the Dutch government to lower emissions 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, so the court’s decision comes down on the low end of that request.

Environmental advocates lauded the decision, saying that more rulings could be expected in other countries.

Human-forced warming of the global climate system is pushing sea surface temperatures in some areas to a maximum of 33 C. Extreme ocean warming that is increasing the amount of latent heat the atmosphere can deliver to human bodies during heatwaves. And near a 33 C sea surface hot zone, the past few days have witnessed extreme heat and related tragic mass casualties in Sindh, Pakistan.

Human-forced warming of the global climate system is pushing sea surface temperatures in some areas to a maximum of 33 C. Extreme ocean warming that is increasing the amount of latent heat the atmosphere can deliver to human bodies during heatwaves. And near a 33 C sea surface hot zone, the past few days have witnessed extreme heat and related tragic mass casualties in Sindh, Pakistan.

The world ocean is now a region of expanding oxygen-deprived dead zones.

It’s an upshot of a human-warmed ocean system filled with high nutrient run-off from mass, industrialized farming, rising atmospheric nitrogen levels, and increasing dust from wildfires, dust storms, and industrial aerosol emissions. Warming seas hold less oxygen in solution. And the nutrient seeding feeds giant algae blooms that, when they die and decompose, further rob ocean waters of oxygen. Combined, the two are an extreme hazard to ocean health — symptoms of a dangerous transition to stratified, or worse, Canfield Ocean states.

In total, more than 405 dead zones now occupy mostly coastal waters worldwide. Covering an area of 95,000 square miles and expanding, these anoxic regions threaten marine species directly through suffocation or indirectly through the growth of toxin-producing bacteria which thrive in low-oxygen environment.

Now, according to new research published in Biogeosciences [pdf], it appears that some of these dead zones have gone mobile.

The report finds zones of very low oxygen covering swirls of surface water 100-150 kilometers in diameter and stretching to about 100 meters in depth. The zones churn like whirlpools or eddies. Encapsulated in their own current of water with oxygen levels low enough to induce fish kills, these ‘dead pools’ have been discovered swirling off the coast of Africa in recent satellite photos. [more]

Fighting over water is a tradition in California, but nowhere are the lines of dispute more sharply drawn than here in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that is the hub of the state’s water system.

Giant pumps pull in water flowing to the delta from the mountainous north of the state, where the majority of precipitation falls, and send it to farms, towns and cities in the Central Valley and Southern California, where the demand for water is greatest.

We can confidently conclude that modern extinction rates are exceptionally high, that they are increasing, and that they suggest a mass extinction under way—the sixth of its kind in Earth’s 4.5 billion years of history.”

If water curtailments go into effect, which states are most vulnerable, and why?

Record rain across much of the West in May has provided Lake Mead with a much-needed boost – alleviating concerns about possible cutbacks in water deliveries from the nation's largest reservoir. But a month of rain does not solve Mead's falling water levels. For nearly two decades, the reservoir, which straddles the Arizona-Nevada border, has been shrinking due to prolonged drought and over-allocation. Mead hasn’t been full since 1998 at 1,221 feet above sea level and in the past 15 years alone, it has dropped 135 feet. Now it’s 37 percent full and just six inches away from reaching the 1,075-foot threshold that triggers cutbacks in deliveries for the three lower basin states – Arizona, Nevada and California – all of which depend heavily on Colorado River water stored in Lake Mead. (The trigger point doesn’t apply to the Upper Basin states of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.)

But as long as the surface level is at least 1,075 feet above sea level when crucial measurements are taken in January 2016, those cutbacks will be avoided. If not, the Secretary of the Interior will declare a shortage in Lake Mead and the curtailed deliveries, along with other water rationing measures, will go into effect early next year.

Hot weather impacting people working

Wildfires Burn as Infernos Engulf Western States

Powerful thunderstorms packing heavy rain and high winds lashed the U.S. Middle Atlantic region late on Tuesday, killing one person, snarling travel and cutting off power to hundreds of thousands of customers.

The fast-moving band of storms stretching from Virginia to southern New Jersey dumped up to one inch (2.5 cm) of rain in less than an hour in some places, said Jim Hayes, a National Weather Service meteorologist in College Park, Maryland.

"The storms were intense but they were moving pretty quickly," he said.

A massive storm in the southern Indian Ocean will set up the largest swell of the year, thus far, for West Australia and Indonesia later this week and this weekend. This will likely be one of the largest swells of the past several years for both regions as well. Multiple satellite passes confirm seas of 50 feet, with one pass indicating seas of just a hair under 60 feet. Satellite confirmed seas of 60 feet have happened only a handful of times around the globe in the last decade. Mariners in the area should monitor conditions closely into the weekend."

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