Saturday, April 6, 2013

Weather and climate as March went out like a lion

In response to Climate change: Risks and responses, a reader over on Facebook pointed out how cold the end of March was in the U.S. I promised him that news later. It's later, so here it is.

OurAmazingPlanet: Spring Image: Snow in Nearly Half of US
Douglas Main, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer
Mar 26, 2013 06:54 PM ET
Springtime: the time for flowers, newborn animals … and snow. Nearly half of the United States is currently covered in snow, including most of Canada, as can be seen in this image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

That's the largest extent of snow cover at this point in the season in at least 10 years, according to NOAA....

Currently, 44 of 50 states have some snow on the ground. The only states without any of the fluffy stuff are Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi and Rhode Island.
Most of the blame can be laid at the feet of a storm that passed through at the end of the month, as OurAmazingPlanet republished on reported: How a Storm Became Big Enough to Span the Atlantic by Douglas Main, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer on Date: 29 March 2013 Time: 02:00 PM ET.
There is currently a massive storm churning over the Atlantic that spans the entire ocean basin, stretching all the way from Canada to Europe, and from Greenland to the Caribbean.

It's the same weather system that brought a massive spring blizzard to much of the United States and Canada earlier this week (on Tuesday (March 26), 44 of 50 states had some snow on the ground), and which has now ballooned in size, according to Jason Samenow, chief meteorologist with the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang.

Robert Oszajca, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service's Ocean Prediction Center, explained that the storm got this big by merging with several low-pressure systems that were hanging out over the Atlantic Ocean. The merging weather systems gave it more power, which was accentuated by a gradient between warm moisture from the southeast, delivered by the Gulf Stream, and frigid air from the north. This intensified the storm, causing it to spin, elongate and grow in size, Oszajca told OurAmazingPlanet.
It turns out there is a climate-based reason for the late cold weather, as OurAmazingPlanet describes in Arctic Sea Ice Hits Yearly Max, But Still Dwindling by Becky Oskin, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer on Mar 27, 2013 07:29 PM ET.
It may be time to retire the groundhog and start tracking Arctic sea ice for a better prediction of late-winter weather.

On March 15, the Arctic sea ice reached its maximum extent -- the most ice the frigid North would see this year, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colo. Changes in Arctic ice, and its total extent, may be affecting weather further south, scientists think.

The ice covered 5.84 million square miles (15.13 million square kilometers), the sixth-lowest area on record since 1979. Most of the ice was young, first-year ice, freshly frozen. The Arctic also has multiyear ice, frozen year-round, which is stiffer and thicker, and contains much less brine than first-year ice does. However, its slice of the total ice pie has been shrinking in recent years.
Just because the weather is erratic, as it always is, doesn't mean that the climatic trend has been disturbed.

Follow over the jump for more climate stories.

OurAmazingPlanet: Antarctic Thawing Season Keeps Getting Longer
Douglas Main, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer
Mar 27, 2013 07:46 PM ET
More ice is melting for a longer period of time each year on the Antarctic Peninsula, new research shows.

The area is warming more quickly than almost any other spot on Earth. Temperatures on this mountainous strip of land have risen by 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) since the 1950s, according to a news release from the British Antarctic Survey, whose scientists were involved in the research.

The study, published today (March 27) in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, analyzed data from 30 weather stations on the Antarctic Peninsula and found that not only is the temperature rising, but it's staying warmer longer, and all that warming is having an impact on the ice.
Climate Nexus via LiveScience: Worst Allergy Season Ever?
Marlene Cimons, Climate Nexus
Date: 29 March 2013 Time: 05:47 PM ET
This spring could be the most miserable one ever for those of us with allergies, and we can blame it on climate change.

People in the Northeast, in particular, will be among the hardest hit in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and this winter's record-setting blizzard, both of which dumped massive amounts of precipitation over the region.
The planet is getting warmer, and human behavior is responsible. The changing climate has brought early spring, late-ending fall, and large amounts of rain and snow. All of that, combined with historically high levels of carbon dioxide in the air, nourishes the trees and plants that make pollen, and encourages more fungal growth, such as mold, and the release of spores.
Natural Resources Defense Council via LiveScience: Why You Are Paying for Everyone's Flood Insurance
Andy Stevenson and Dan Lashof, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Date: 27 March 2013 Time: 03:05 PM ET
There are many, many compelling and urgent reasons to take decisive action to combat climate change. Here's one that's measurable by dollars added to our budget deficit. Actually by tens of billions of dollars.

The soaring cost of private flood insurance is pricing so many coastal homeowners out of the market that the rest of the American taxpayers are having to bail them out – to the tune of $30 billion under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

With over $139 billion in storm, wildfire, drought, tornado and flood damages taking nearly 1 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012, the insurance industry is referring to last year as the second costliest year on record for U.S. climate-related disasters. And while insurers do include $12 billion worth of flood-related damages in their estimates, they aren't the ones getting stuck with most of the bill. It's us, the taxpayer.

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