The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Another long-predicted climate change force is confirmed

The US government's 2019 Arctic Report Card finds that melting permafrost has made the arctic a net producer of greenhouse gasses:

Especially noteworthy is the report’s conclusion that the Arctic already may have become a net emitter of planet-warming carbon emissions due to thawing permafrost, which would only accelerate global warming. Permafrost is the carbon-rich frozen soil that covers 24 percent of the Northern Hemisphere’s land mass, encompassing vast stretches of territory across Alaska, Canada, Siberia and Greenland.

Warming temperatures allow microbes within the soil to convert permafrost carbon into the greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide and methane — which can be released into the air and accelerate warming. Ted Schuur, a researcher at Northern Arizona University and author of the permafrost chapter, said the report “takes on a new stand on the issue” based on other published work including a study in Nature Climate Change in November.

Taking advantage of the new studies — one on regional carbon emissions from permafrost in Alaska during the warm season, and another on winter season emissions in the Arctic compared to how much carbon is absorbed by vegetation during the growing season — the report concludes permafrost ecosystems could be releasing as much as 1.1 billion to 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. This is almost as much as the annual emissions of Japan and Russia in 2018, respectively.

Only, if you can believe, it's worse than that. Because the microbes also produce methane, which gram-for-gram causes about 4 times more warming. And as the region gets warmer, more microbes produce more gas, in a negative spiral.

Happy Wednesday.

Sick day reading

I hate taking sick days, I really do. Fortunately, the Internet never takes one:

I'm now going to try to do a couple of hours of work, but really, I just want to go back to sleep.

...and winter isn't screwing around

At least, not in the Northeast:

In the Northeast, heavy snow, mixed precipitation and strong winds are expected to develop in many areas beginning as early as Sunday. Freezing rain was already falling in parts of Pennsylvania on Sunday, making roads hazardous, and the stage is set for a burdensome Monday morning commute for many from New York to Portland, Maine.

As of Sunday morning, the storm that will evolve into the first big storm of the 2019-2020 winter season in the Northeast was centered 700 miles west of New England, just east of Chicago.

But its expansive precipitation shield was branching well off to the east, with heavy rains and downpours reaching as far south as Augusta, Ga. That slug of moisture — which has slowed traffic on Interstate 95 along much of the Eastern Seaboard — wrapped all the way up through Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Buffalo and even into Detroit, before curling north as snow in northern Wisconsin and Michigan.

Snowfall totals of over 300 mm are possible in eastern New York state east of Interstate 81 by the time the long-duration storm ends. Pockets of up to 450 mm may punctuate some spots in the Catskills and Hudson Valley.

For once, Chicago will miss the worst of it.

Maybe we should listen to the message

A new United Nations report projects that the world's average temperature will hit 3.9°C above pre-industrial levels in 80 years without massive, immediate cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. The additional energy the atmosphere has absorbed in the 80 years has given us the perfect Thanksgiving weekend travel environment:

Not one, not two, but three powerful storm systems will make travel difficult to near impossible at times both before and after Thursday’s holiday.

A record-breaking “bomb cyclone” crashed ashore in the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday night, bringing winds gusting over 160 km/h and feet of snow in some areas. That storm system will continue to dump snow in the Sierra Nevada while bringing heavy rain, coastal flooding and even isolated thunderstorms to Southern California. It will also spread rain and snow into Utah, Nevada and Colorado.

Meanwhile, a “kitchen sink” storm barreling through the Plains and Upper Midwest has already manifested itself in offering the worst of every season. Tornadoes touched down in Louisiana, while thundersnow and thundersleet rattled Nebraska. This is coming on the heels of Denver’s snowiest day in three years.

The snow is targeting the Great Lakes this hour, as strong winds spread over much of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys. The winds, gusting up to 97 km/h at times, threaten to snarl air travel into and out of Chicago’s major hubs at O’Hare and Midway airports.

And that’s not all. The same upper-level disturbance that helped spin up the West Coast bomb cyclone will generate a third potent storm to the east. It will probably impact the eastern half of the Lower 48 this weekend.

Right now at O'Hare winds are 38 km/h gusting to 70 km/h with a peak gust of 98 km/h recorded at 10:11 this morning. As my first flight instructor used to say, "Mights gonna to be a bit vindy."

Just a couple of things to note

And it's not even lunchtime yet:

  • A storm has left Venice flooded under 187 cm of water, the second highest flood since records began in 1923. Four of the five largest floods in Venice history have occurred in the last 20 years; the record flood (193 cm) occurred in 1966.
  • As our third impeachment inquiry in 50 years begins public hearings, Josh Marshall explains what the Democrats have to prove.
  • Yoni Appelbaum wonders if the country can hold together. He's not optimistic.
  • Via Bruce Schneier, the NTSB has released a report on the autonomous car accident in 2018 that killed Elaine Herzberg. A notable detail: "Police investigators later established that the driver had likely been streaming a television show on her personal smartphone."
  • Chicago Tribune restaurant critic Phil Vettel lists his 50 favorite restaurants in the area. I have a mission.

And you should see Sir Rod Stewart's model railroad. Jaw-dropping.

Another anniversary

Twenty years ago today, I launched wx-now.com. It's now on version 4.5 with version 5 in the works (when I get the time).

The earliest view on the Wayback Machine comes from late 2000, but the design looks similar enough to the first beta version on 11 November 1999.

Hard to believe I've had two websites in continuous operation for over 20 years.

How does one pack for this?

We have pretty normal autumn weather in Chicago right now, in that it's gray and cold with temperatures about 3°C below normal. Friday morning, when I fly out, temperatures will fall to 10°C below normal and then 13°C below normal when I get back Tuesday.

We have this ridiculous late-autumn chill because of climate change. Warm air over Greenland and the Grand Banks has distorted the circumpolar jet stream into an omega shape, bringing the Arctic to Canada and the central US and bringing California to Alaska. Check out the map.

I'll just have to drive to O'Hare and leave a winter coat in my car, I suppose.

Fwoomp

On Wednesday night it snowed, and the temperature spent several hours below freezing. That caused this to happen:

Those leaves fell en masse from a linden tree in my neighborhood. Which means they won't fall in two weeks when they're bright yellow.

Most of the trees in my neighborhood, and the ivy covering my own building, dropped all their leaves the morning after the snowstorm. So we don't really get an autumn this year. And that makes me sad.

Nature, sometimes you suck.

Where's my flying car?

It's the first day of November 2019, the month in which the 1982 classic film Blade Runner takes place. Los Angeles has a bit of haze today from wildfires in the area, but I'm glad to report that it isn't the environmental disaster portrayed in the movie. No flying cars, no replicants, and no phone booths either.

In other news:

Happy November!

Backfield in motion

That's American for the English idiom "penny in the air." And what a penny. More like a whole roll of them.

Right now, the House of Commons are wrapping up debate on the Government's bill to prorogue Parliament (for real this time) and have elections the second week of December. The second reading of the bill just passed by voice vote (the "noes" being only a few recalcitrant MPs), so the debate continues. The bill is expected to pass—assuming MPs can agree on whether to have the election on the 9th, 11th, or 12th of December. Regardless, that means I'll be in London during the first weekend of the election campaign, and I'm elated.

Meanwhile, a whole bunch of other things made the news in the last day:

  • Writing for the New Yorker, Sam Knight argues that before Boris Johnson became PM, it was possible to imagine a Brexit that worked for the UK. Instead, Johnson has poisoned UK politics for a generation.
  • Presidents Trump and Obama came to Chicago yesterday, but only one of the personally insulted us. Guess which one.
  • That one also made top military officers squirm yesterday when he released classified information about our assassination of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, including a photograph of the dog injured in the raid. The dog's name remained classified, even as it seemed clear that he was a very good boy.
  • Grinnell College in Iowa released polling data today showing just how much people don't like President Trump. Moreover, 80% of those polled thought a presidential candidate seeking election help from a foreign government was unacceptable. Adam Schiff cracking his knuckles could be heard all the way to the Grinnell campus.
  • An appellate court in North Carolina ruled that the election maps drawn up by the Republican Party unfairly gerrymander a Republican majority, and must be re-drawn for the 2020 election.
  • Grubhub's share price crashed today after the company released a written statement ahead of its earnings call later this week. The company made $1.0 million on $322.1 million in revenue during the 3rd quarter, and projected a loss for the 4th quarter.
  • The City of Atlanta decided not to pay ransom to get their computers working again, in order to reduce the appeal of ransomware attacks.

Finally, it looks like it could snow in Chicago on Thursday. Color me annoyed.