Thursday, January 31, 2013

It's the New Normal and We Have to Figure Out How to Live With It

Each day, Google serves me a banquet of the latest news stories from around the world on selected topics including climate change, drought and floods.  It's an amazing service that helps one stay atop developments in areas of interest.   They're only news reports and, therefore, subject to all the vagaries associated with that type of information, but, over the course of many months a pretty clear picture emerges of what's actually going on with our world.

Scientists are now saying they were mistaken to call climate change "global warming."   Not because the globe, our planet, isn't warming - it is, overall - but because while most places are getting hotter, some are actually becoming colder.   Around the world some places are enduring sustained flooding, others mega-drought, others still cyclical droughts and floods.   In many places, including Canada, seasonal conditions have turned wonky, erratic.  People in Ontario know what that's all about.   So do most Americans.

Here's an example from today's Topeka Capital Journal online.

“Just the fact that we’re in a drought and talking about flooding is pretty amazing,” said Mark Fuchs, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service office in suburban St. Louis.

Storms Tuesday and Wednesday brought high winds, hail and tornadoes to parts of the Midwest and South. Thousands lost power and one death was reported in Tennessee.

It was part of a strange weather pattern. Consider Missouri: On Tuesday, while Kansas City was dealing with blowing snow and a winter weather advisory, golfers in St. Louis were teeing off in 68-degree temperatures and joggers in Columbia were marveling at a record high of 77 degrees.

By late afternoon Tuesday, though, a cold front began clashing with that unseasonably warm air and strong storms brought downpours. Most of the St. Louis area got around an inch-and-a-half of rain; parts of southern Missouri and southern Illinois got closer to 3 inches of rain.

The University of Ottawa's Paul Beckwith gives an elegant explanation for what's going on, our new normal.

h/t Christine @ 350orBust

We're going to have to figure out how we're going to live with this new normal.  That's going to be tougher for some than for others.  A repeat of last summer's drought in the U.S. could hit Canadian wheat farmers.

Drew Lerner, weather specialist with World Weather Inc. in Kansas, said if the dry weather in the western U.S. Corn Belt and Plains continues, the southern part of Western Canada could experience a drier, warmer bias this summer.

"If the dryness lasts long enough to the south, a ridge of high pressure that would, under normal circumstances, be weak and not likely reach up into Canada would have the potential of reaching into Canada," said Lerner. "And that's the reason why the southern areas would tend to be drier and the northern areas might turn to be wetter, somewhat similar to last summer."


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