The polar vortex is experiencing an unusually long disturbance this year because of a “sudden stratospheric warming.” Bundle up.
It’s official. 2020 was one of the warmest years on record either edging out or coming in just behind 2016 for the warmest year in recorded history according to data from US government agencies.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had the year just tied with 2016, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put the figure just behind 2016’s totals.
No matter the ranking, the big picture for the climate isn’t pretty according to scientists from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York and the Washington, DC-based NOAA.
“The last seven years have been the warmest seven years on record, typifying the ongoing and dramatic warming trend,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt, in a statement. “Whether one year is a record or not is not really that important – the important things are long-term trends. With these trends, and as the human impact on the climate increases, we have to expect that records will continue to be broken.”
That’s a dire message for the nation considering the cost of last year’s record-breaking 22 weather and climate disasters. At least 262 people died and scores more were injured by climate-related disasters, according to the NOAA.
And the combination of wildfires, droughts, heatwaves, tornados, tropical cyclones, and severe weather events like hail storms in Texas and the derecho that wrecked the Midwest cost the nation $95 billion.
Both organizations track temperature trends to get some sort of picture of the impact that human activities — specifically greenhouse gas emissions — have on the planet. The image that comes into focus is that human activity has already contributed to increasing Earth’s average temperature by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the industrial age took hold in the late 19th century.
Most troubling to scientists is that this year’s near record-setting temperatures happened without a boost from the climatic weather phenomenon known as El Niño, which is a large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming.
“The previous record warm year, 2016, received a significant boost from a strong El Niño. The lack of a similar assist from El Niño this year is evidence that the background climate continues to warm due to greenhouse gases,” Schmidt said, in a statement.
The warming trends the word is experiencing are most pronounced in the Arctic, according to NASA. There, temperatures have warmed three times as a fast as the rest of the globe over the past 30 years, Schmidt said. The loss of Arctic sea ice — whose annual minimum area is declining by about 13 percent per decade — makes the region less reflective, which means more sunlight is being absorbed by oceans, causing temperatures to climb even more.
These accelerating effects of climate change could be perilous for the world at large, Katharine Hayhoe, a professor at Texas Tech University wrote in an email to The Washington Post.
“What keeps us climate scientists up in the dead of night is wondering what we don’t know about the self-reinforcing or vicious cycles in the Earth’s climate system,” Hayhoe wrote. “The further and faster we push it beyond anything experienced in the history of human civilization on this planet, the greater the risk of serious and even dangerous consequences. And this year, we’ve seen that in spades… It’s no longer a question of when the impacts of climate change will manifest themselves: They are already here and now. The only question remaining is how much worse it will get.”
The White House repeatedly attempted to thwart the country’s premier climate science document, one meant to steer policy for years. Scientists got in the way.
This year’s Arctic Report Card, an annual assessment by an international panel of scientists, warned that the effects of global warming are surging across the region.
The company, which graduated from Y Combinator earlier this year, has recently raised $2 million from Signia Ventures and Sound Ventures for its predictive software, because sometimes businesses do need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
Atmo was founded by Johan Mathe, a former Google X employee who worked on Project Loon, the business unit focused on providing internet connectivity via floating balloons that would create a network of wireless coverage in emerging markets.
“I spent a lot of time working on weather,” said Mathe. It was his job to find ways for the balloons to navigate different areas and much of that navigation was complicated by weather patterns, he said.
“As I needed to build that there was so much complexity from the sheer amount of data with the weather,” Mathe said. “I thought I have to build something to make the intersection of weather and AI much more available for everyone.”
That was the beginning of a four year journey, which culminated in Atmo (formerly known as Froglabs.ai), the Berkeley, Calif.-based startup that’s providing predictive weather analysis for businesses ranging from renewable energy to ice cream shops.
Levy, who had co-founded the drug discovery company Atomwise, knew Mathe socially and initially invested in his company when it was just an idea. But as he saw the value in weather data and made the jump from investor and advisor to co-founder.
Now Mathe, Levy, and chief technology officer Jeremy Lequeux all work from Levy’s Berkeley house as they develop their software and take their company to the next level.
And recent events make the need for the company’s services abundantly transparent. Since 2019, climate-related events have cost the US roughly $89 billion, according to data compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“Every business is on this weather spectrum,” said Levy. “Let’s say you just are an ice cream location. Degree to which it’s hot or cold will affect your sales 10%. We’ve worked towards creating a general purpose predictive system and takes weather data on one hand and all the historical weather collected around the world. It compares the two and analyzes how are all of your key business metrics affected by the weather.”
The company already has a half dozen customers including two billion-dollar businesses in the renewable energy and eCommerce and logistics industries, Levy said.
“One of the areas that we work on is risk and extreme weather, like how do you predict these fluke events that you have very little intervention around,” said Levy. “We make that kind of prediction separate and apart from how you can best optimize when things are in a relatively normal state.”
Demand is only going to increase as these extreme events become more common, because governments and businesses will be looking at ways to improve their ability to withstand or adapt to these catastrophic conditions. “There’s a need because everybody is talking about resilience these days,” said Levy. “I see Atmo as the company that’s going to provide these insights for the big companies that are concerned about this problem now.”
There have been 30 named storms and 13 hurricanes this year, the most active Atlantic season on record.
The arrival of Theta broke the annual record for the number of storms strong enough to be given names. That benchmark was set in 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.
The administration is imposing new limits on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that would undercut action against global warming.
The storm had swiftly intensified into a Category 3 for a few hours.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for Bermuda.
The most widespread drought in the continental United States since 2013 covers more than 45 percent of the Lower 48 states, federal scientists said.
The analysis, by European scientists, kept this year on track to be one of the five hottest in recorded history.
The storm is the ninth named hurricane of the Atlantic season. It may reach the Gulf Coast by the end of the week.
Is dining on nature’s predators an act of environmentalism — or just a new way for humans to bend the world to our will?
Meteorologists also designated Subtropical Storm Alpha, the first storm since 2005 to be named using a letter of the Greek alphabet, with over two months left in hurricane season.
Space weather experts believe the sun has entered a new sunspot cycle, and expect it to be a relatively quiet one.
Barely halfway through what one meteorologist called a “hyperactive” season, there is only one entry left on the 21-name list used for storms.
Even as Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, admits that climate change “is real” and that “the science is unambiguous and the need to act grows more urgent by the day” the platform appears unwilling to take steps to really stand up to the climate change denialism that circulates on its platform.
The company is set to achieve net zero carbon emissions and be supported fully by renewable energy in its own operations this year.
But as the corporate world slaps a fresh coat of green paint on its business practices, Facebook is looking to get out in front with the launch of a Climate Science Information Center to “connect people with science-based information”.
The company is announcing a new information center, designed after its COVID-19 pandemic response. The center is designed to connect people to factual and up-to-date climate information, according to the company. So far, Facebook says that over 2 billion people have been directed to resources from health authorities with its COVID-19 response.
The company said that it will use The Climate Science Information Center to feature facts, figures, and data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and their global network of climate science partners, including the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and others. This center is launching in France, Germany, the UK and the US to start.
While Facebook has been relatively diligent in taking down COVID-19 misinformation that circulates on the platform, removing 7 million posts and labeling another 98 million more for distributing coronavirus misinformation, the company has been accused of being far more sanguine when it comes to climate change propaganda and pseudoscience.
A July article from The New York Times revealed how climate change deniers use the editorial label to skirt Facebook’s policies around climate disinformation. In September 2019 a group called the CO2 Coalition managed to overturn a fact-check that would have labeled a post as misinformation by appealing to Facebook’s often criticized stance on providing and amplifying different opinions. By calling an editorial that contained blatant misinformation on climate science an editorial, the group was able to avoid the types of labels that would have redirected a Facebook user to information from recognized scientific organizations.
Facebook disputes that characterization. “If it’s labeled an opinion piece, it’s subject to fact checking,” said Chris Cox, the chief product officer at Facebook.
“We look at the stuff that starts to go viral. There’s not a part of our policies that says anything about opinion pieces being exempted at all.”
With much of the Western coast of the United States now on fire, the issues are no longer academic. “We are taking important steps to reduce our emissions and arm our global community with science-based information to make informed decisions and tools to take action, and we hope they demonstrate that Facebook is committed to playing its part and helping to inspire real action in our community,” the company said in a statement.
Beyond its own operations, the company is also pushing to reduce operational greenhouse gases in its secondary supply chain by 75 percent and intends to reach net zero emissions for its value chain — including suppliers and employee commuting and business travel — by 2030, the company said. Facebook did not disclose how much money it would be investing to support that initiative.
A president who has mocked climate change and pushed policies that accelerate it is set to be briefed on the scorched earth and ash-filled skies that experts say are the predictable result.
Climate forecasters said the pattern would affect weather across the globe.
‘I don’t want to encourage other people to do this.’
The influx of whales to cleaner waters off New York City has meant that the number of them injured or killed there is on the rise.
A second potential hurricane is also moving toward the Gulf of Mexico.
Scientists still have to validate the reading of 130 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, the equivalent of 54 degrees Celsius.
The powerful storms, which covered hundreds of miles, brought winds exceeding 100 miles per hour to Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana.
Scientists at NOAA updated their prediction for the 2020 hurricane season, and now expect as many as 25 named storms.
Storm surges of three to five feet were possible in the Bahamas, “on top of astronomical tides,” the director of the National Hurricane Center said.
Winter is warmer and summer is sweltering, with torrential afternoon downpours. What’s next, palm trees?
Gonzalo is the earliest named “G” storm since the satellite era began in 1966, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Rising seas are bringing water into communities at record rates, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday.
The report examined the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s insistence that Hurricane Dorian was headed toward Alabama, which government forecasters contradicted.
The Commerce Department is impeding findings into whether it coerced the top NOAA official to support President Trump’s inaccurate claim that Dorian would hit Alabama, the department’s inspector general said.
Coronavirus shutdowns have cut pollution, and that’s opened the door to a “giant, global environmental experiment” with potentially far-reaching consequences.
The federal government’s spending on calamities related to global warming is a rapidly rising fiscal threat.
Hotter than normal temperatures are expected across almost all of the United States into September, government researchers said.
Neil Jacobs violated the agency’s scientific integrity policy with a statement last year backing the president’s inaccurate claim that a hurricane was headed for Alabama, a panel found.
Levels of planet-warming carbon dioxide reached another record in May, the month when they normally peak.
The low-oxygen zone can cause harm not just to marine life, but also to those who catch shrimp and fish for their livelihood.
Scientists are hard at work recalibrating where and how the nation physically sits on the planet. It’s not shrinkage — it’s “height modernization.”
This year’s season is complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, which makes emergency management practices like group shelters risky.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration opposes the operation to salvage the Marconi device and contends that the wreckage should not be disturbed.
An analysis of satellite imagery from the past four decades suggests that global warming has increased the chances of storms reaching Category 3 or higher.
Rain has replaced what used to be a white winter in my corner of the world.