Thursday, 15 October 2015

Climate change reporting in the Land of the Hobbits

I present to you the sum total of NZ media coverage of the disastrous el-NIno that is bearing down on this country and the Pacific region.

It is reduced to small articles that are given no prominence whatsoever with pictures of people enjoying a day on the beach while water runs dry and farmers go to the wall.

El-Nino is trivilaised and is painted as just part of the cycles of Nature and is decoupled from climate change that is happening before our eyes.

Below is the nauseating spectacle of someone from a science media organisation delivering the worst news amidst breezy chitchat  about possum socks and the advantages of genetic engineering.  This is supposed to be communication about something that affects every single human being and every being on this planet.

Go back to sleep, Hobbits.

Tasman high and dry as El Nino takes hold
Dry conditions are worsening in the Tasman district, as the El Nino weather pattern takes a old.

15 October, 2015


There has been little rain since the start of spring, and the Waimea River is falling.

District council environment and planning manager Dennis Bush-King told Morning Report they only had about 70 percent of normal rainfall, and soil moisture levels are about 20 percent lower than at the same time last year

Mr Bush-King said the council was looking at water restrictions soon, with the first step a 20 percent cut in people's permitted allocations

He said it was the earliest the dry-weather taskforce had ever met, and things could get serious if there was no rain soon.

El Nino set to scorch Nelson
A rare weather phenomenon is set to scorch Nelson this spring and summer, heralding drought conditions and the risk of "extreme" scrub fires.

El Nino could bring even more hot summer days to Kaiteriteri Beach, but farmers may not be as happy as holidaymakers.

12 October, 2015

Metservice said the El Nino weather pattern would bring unusually dry conditions and hot temperatures to the region, and there was a "good chance" the mercury would soar to record highs in October.  

While local tourism operators predicted a boom in business as travellers flocked to soak up the sun, farmers and fruit growers expected to suffer in the searing heat. 

Federated Farmers Golden Bay president Sue Brown said many farmers were still struggling to cope with last year's drought. 

If conditions worsened in the coming months, farmers would be driven towards cost-cutting measures like slaughtering surplus stock, Brown said. 

"Farmers definitely feel it in the pocket.

"They are already getting their heads around alternatives."

Orchard manager Evan Heywood said the lack of rain would hurt fruit growers in areas, such as Waimea, where the water supply was limited. 

"If the weather carries on like this, so hot and dry, people will need to look at irrigation. 

"That is unheard of at this time of year." 

Seifried Estate winemaker Hermann Seifried said the forecast was far from ideal for the vineyard. 

"We certainly will feel it, there is no doubt about it. We hope there is some good rain in the next three or four weeks."

Rural fire officer Ian Reade said fire risk would soar as the region was fanned by hot, dry winds. 

"Any fire will burn quite quickly. When you get to those extreme levels, no matter how much you throw at a fire, you can't slow it down."

Reade said the area could become so combustible, it would be possible for two-month-old embers to re-ignite and start fires.  

Faced with the looming threat of drought, both the region's councils said water management would be a major issue over summer. 

Tasman District Council was already discussing mitigation measures such as water rationing, and was likely to take convene the Dry Weather Taskforce if it did not rain soon. 

The Nelson City Council was set to introduce water restrictions as reservoir levels dropped, and urged property owners to be careful with water usage. 

Although the forecast was a nightmare for the rural sector, it was shaping as a dream for Nelson's tourism operator.

Chief executive of Nelson-Tasman Tourism Lynda Keene said a sunny weather pattern was great news for tourism.  

"When the region has long, sunny, and windless days it really adds to everyone feeling upbeat. Good weather…is always good for retailers, wineries, breweries, food producers, and tourism operator."

Tahuna Beach Holiday Park manager Marcel Fekkes said the forecast was fantastic. 

"I think with great weather like that we would see a lot more international tourists. 
"It's good all round for us really."

Nelson Fun Park owner Michel Lee said the outlook could see a huge rise in business. "When it's a nice and warm day we often get a 50 per cent rise in numbers. 

It definitely brings the families out."

What is El Nino?

El Nino is a cyclical weather pattern associated with major atmospheric changes in the Pacific. 

El Nino occurs at irregular intervals of around two to seven years, when weakening trade winds cause the Pacific Ocean to heat up. 

During El Nino New Zealand typically experienced very dry conditions in the east, and more rainfall in the west. 

What does El Nino mean for Nelson?

Nelson will see less rain than usual over spring and summer, increasing the risk of drought.

The average October temperature for Nelson is 16.8 degrees, but El Nino could see this rise by two degrees.   
There is a good chance Nelson will experience record-high temperatures, with the current October record of 23.5 degrees likely to be beaten.

Our hot take on the record South Island highs

Global heat records tumble again as El Nino boosts September warmth
Global temperatures got another kick along last month, with September easily the hottest in records going back to 1891, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

Last month was the latest in a series of record hot months globally.
15 October, 2015

According to preliminary data for the month, average sea and land surface temperatures in September were 0.5 degrees above the 1981-2010 average.

That compared with the previous record set only a year earlier, with an anomaly of 0.35 degrees.

Each of the last four Septembers have set records for the month, the agency said.
Japan's reading is likely to be confirmed by other agencies in coming days, such as the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Last month, NOAA said August was the sixth month in 2015 alone to set global temperature records.

With September likely to have made it seven record months, 2015 is well on course to setting a new mark as the hottest year, eclipsing 2014.

Driving the surge in global surface temperatures this year is the powerful El Nino weather event that continues to intensify in the Pacific.

During El Nino years, the world's oceans tend to absorb less heat as wind patterns change across the equatorial Pacific, lifting global temperatures by about 0.1-0.2 degrees.

That boost adds to the background warming from climate change, which has seen temperatures rise about 0.9 degrees over the past century, climatologists say.

The likelihood of another record warm year comes just over a month before delegates from about 200 nations will gather in Paris, France, to negotiate a climate treaty aimed at limiting the temperature increase from greenhouse gas emissions to within two degrees of pre-industrial levels.

Here we have the spectacle of Kathryn Ryan, capable of good journalism engaged in idle chitchat with a science commentator and dropping the worst of news about climate change in this context.

Climate changes are going to play out, not only over the next 100 years (sic), but the next 1,000 years.

Go figure.

Science commentator, Peter Griffin

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