Sunday, October 4, 2015

Climate Change and Megastorms. I told you so.

This is a misleading headline because the cold blob shouldn't be puzzling to scientists.

Cold Atlantic "Blob" Puzzles Scientists 

(CNN)At first glance, it stands out like a sore thumb. That blob of blue and purple on the map. One of the only places on the globe that is abnormally cold in a year that will likely shatter records as the warmest globally.
It's being called the Atlantic "blob." It's a large area in the North Atlantic that is seeing a pronounced cooling trend. The ocean surface is much cooler than normal and in fact record cold in some locations.
The mysterious cold blob is evidence that the traditional prevailing ocean current formerly known as the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt has been disrupted by the effects of our warming climate.  Just like NASA scientists predicted back in 2004 and others before that. 

A Chilling Possibility: By disturbing a massive ocean current, melting Arctic sea ice might trigger colder weather in Europe and North America.

March 5, 2004: Global warming could plunge North America and Western Europe into a deep freeze, possibly within only a few decades.
That's the paradoxical scenario gaining credibility among many climate scientists. The thawing of sea ice covering the Arctic could disturb or even halt large currents in the Atlantic Ocean. Without the vast heat that these ocean currents deliver--comparable to the power generation of a million nuclear power plants--Europe's average temperature would likely drop 5 to 10°C (9 to 18°F), and parts of eastern North America would be chilled somewhat less. Such a dip in temperature would be similar to global average temperatures toward the end of the last ice age roughly 20,000 years ago.

More heat energy from the sun lands at the earth's equatorial regions than lands at the earth's poles. The heat energy has to somehow migrate away from the equator toward the poles either within ocean currents or through air currents.  So assume that the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt has been disrupted just like the cold blob indicates and that the excess heat from the equatorial region is being forced to migrate away from the equator toward the poles through currents in the atmosphere, or wind instead of through ocean currents.

Heat energy or enthalpy exists in the atmosphere in two forms.  One is the sensible heat, the temperature of the air that you could measure with a thermometer in degrees F or C.  The other form of energy in the atmosphere is the latent heat, the water vapor absorbed in the air, that you could measure with a hygrometer in % Relative Humidity.  The warmer air becomes the more water vapor it can absorb and the capacity to carry moisture increases exponentially as air warms.  See: Psychrometric Chart.  Hot humid air stores more energy than hot dry air but whatever amount of moisture is absorbed into the air in one location will eventually fall back to the ground as precipitation somewhere else.

Here is a Pathteacher post from the archives 2012 about the interaction of temperature and humidity in the atmosphere and how the Psychrometric Chart predicts the major weather trends we can expect in our warming climate.

Pathteacher: This chart explains why we can expect more extreme weather

I think it is reasonable to say the amount of precipitation will tend to decrease in areas where the atmosphere is typically the warmest and the amount of precipitation will tend to increase in areas where the air is the typically the coolest. We will see more persistent droughts, more intense wildfires and growing deserts in hotter areas and an increasing number of random Megastorms that dump huge amounts of precipitation causing flooding, property damage, crop losses and infrastructure failures in cooler areas. This doesn't bode well for the agriculture or property insurance industries, or for our prospects in general.       

Which brings me to an image of the storms currently pounding the Atlantic Coast in the Southern USA.  This is a massive storm being described as the largest storm in the area in 1,000 years and the rain that has fallen over a foot deep in many places is causing catastrophic damage over a wide area. Yes, there have been massive storms in the past, but as the global climate continues to warm, the rate of incidence and destructive power of the massive, catastrophic, Megastorms like this one will increase.  

Get used to it.  This is the future we have chosen, or at least ignored as a real threat.  A typical climate denier might say this is all just business as usual or point out how the climate changed before there were 7 billion people on Earth or recite end-times prophecy, or maybe even admit that climate denial is an easier alternative to admitting they don't give a shit about the world their children and grandchildren will inherit.  But none of that matters anymore because climate change is happening right now and I plan to keep reminding people I told you so.