sparky
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:54 pm

Fairly broad lecture by Oceanographer-Climatologist, Bill Patzert of Caltech's Jet Propulsion Lab.
Patzert has an entertaining style, even if some of the jokes are flat.

The gist of his talk: Yeah El Niño is shaping up to be a whopper but El Niños don't end droughts in Calif. Patzert believes that takes a "flip" in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which may be happening. Stay tuned for the Q&A to hear a question from our own tbleakne (hey tom!). Lots of historical perspective. Long, but I enjoyed the vid.

"Drought. Are we In or Out?"

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RegGuheert
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Thu Aug 20, 2015 7:53 am

Great video! Thanks!

A couple of quotes:

At around the 30-minute mark he spent some time talking about Lake Mead and at 32:45 he showed a pretty shocking graph showing the increase of the water usage from the Colorado River versus the flow volume of the Colorado watershed. The usage was increasing almost linearly and had CROSSED OVER the amount coming in around the year 2000! That cannot be good!

He makes a point to remind the audience that the history of California includes megadroughts:
Dr. Bill Patzert at 58.03 wrote:And this has been the history of civilization...is, is that, you know, in the American West, we've seen great droughts - you can see it in tree rings - for centuries. In some of these PDO drought things,... In the thirteenth century we had a drought that lasted a hundred years...called the megadrought. Just hope we're not in one of those, ya know.

He gave a well-considered response to a question on desalinization plants:
Dr. Bill Patzert at 1:01:34 wrote:So and let's just take this thing out to its logical conclusion. We're out of water, so if the cities in California are gonna have water, we're gonna have to build desal plants. At a billion dollars a pop. Well, I've calculated how many desal plants you would need to take care of all the urban water needs in California. The number is 200. Alright. So that's 200 billion dollars of bonds for the taxpayers. Alright. Figuring out, it would take at least 20 years before any of them got an environmental impact approval. Alright? And the other thing is that they are exceptionally energy-intensive. It takes a lot of power and energy to run those desal plants. And once you desal the water - you're at sea level - and where are all the customers? All the customers are uphill. Alright, so, uh, and uh, what we're tryin' to do here is, switch our economy from an oil and gas economy, and coal economy, to a renewable energy economy. Alright. And so there's a lot of negatives. On the other hand, you know, when we run out of water, you know, people get desperate and make bad decisions. Alright? We're definitely not all going to get in our Priuses and go to British Columbia. Alright? We're stuck here. We're gonna have to figure it out. You know?...And it's gonna be more than cutting back 25% on your home water usage. It's bigger than that.
Just a bit of a summary on the challenge of desal:
Dr. Bill Patzert wrote:200 plants. You'd need a plant every four miles between Tijuana and the Oregon border.
RegGuheert
2011 Leaf SL Demo vehicle
2011 miles at purchase. 10K miles on Apr 14, 2013. 20K miles (55.7Ah) on Aug 7, 2014, 30K miles (52.0Ah) on Dec 30, 2015, 40K miles (49.8Ah) on Feb 8, 2017.
Enphase Inverter Measured MTBF: M190, M215, M250, S280

GRA
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Fri Aug 21, 2015 4:46 pm

RegGuheert wrote:
Great video! Thanks!

A couple of quotes:

At around the 30-minute mark he spent some time talking about Lake Mead and at 32:45 he showed a pretty shocking graph showing the increase of the water usage from the Colorado River versus the flow volume of the Colorado watershed. The usage was increasing almost linearly and had CROSSED OVER the amount coming in around the year 2000! That cannot be good! <snip>

For anyone interested in more detail, both of past mega-droughts in the area which caused civilizations to re-locate or disappear, as well as current and possible/likely future consequences, I recommend "A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest", by William DeBuys. http://www.amazon.com/Great-Aridness-Cl ... 0199974675

More generally, there's also "When the Rivers Run Dry: Water--The Defining Crisis of the 21st Century," by Fred Pearce, which has a chapter or two on the southwest, as well as covering water shortages worldwide. http://www.amazon.com/When-Rivers-Run-D ... 0807085731
Guy [I have lots of experience designing/selling off-grid AE systems, some using EVs but don't own one. Local trips are by foot, bike and/or rapid transit].

The 'best' is the enemy of 'good enough'. Copper shot, not Silver bullets.

edatoakrun
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Sat Aug 22, 2015 8:46 am

The death toll, and acreage burned in the western USA continues to increase:

Drought-Fueled Wildfires Burn 7 Million Acres in U.S.

Sap a forest of rain — say, for three or four years — toss in seemingly endless sunshine and high temperatures, and you’ve got just the right recipe for some catastrophic wildfires.

Such is the story playing out in the West, where, thanks in part to climate change, drought-fueled infernos are incinerating forests at a record pace from Alaska to California, claiming the lives of 13 firefighters, destroying more than 900 structures and requiring firefighting agencies to call in help from the U.S. Army and as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

Here’s the breakdown: As of Aug. 20, more than 41,300 wildfires have scorched more than 7.2 million acres in 2015, mostly in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. That’s nearly three times the 2.6 million acres that burned nationwide in 2014 and more land area than has burned in any other year over the last decade.

The blazes have consumed so much land this year because of the drought, fueled by record high temperatures during the warmest January-to-July period in history for the region...

The drought and high temperatures are stressing forests to the point where they can’t fend off the worst effects of wildfire, even in those forests that depend on occasional fires to survive...

The short-term outlook for wildfires in the West over the next few days calls for continued extreme dry, windy weather — a recipe for continued wildfire spread.

“We’re looking at the winds and the dry, lower humidities, dry weather,” Boehle said. Some areas of the Cascades that are burning could see winds gusting to 50 mph through Saturday, she said.

The bottom line, she said: “Not much improvement.”

http://www.climatecentral.org/news/wild ... cres-19363

In case you missed it, the Guardian's coverage of recent research connecting the present (and far more severe future) droughts to anthropogenic climate change:

Long-suffering California can blame drought on global warming, experts say

Latest report finds climate change intensified the drought in California from 2012 to 2014 and predicts ‘enhanced drought’ throughout 21st century


Global warming has increased the severity of the ongoing drought in California, as part of a larger trend of human-caused climate change intensifying dry weather spells, scientists said on Thursday.

Scientists predict that “enhanced drought” will continue in California throughout this century because global warming has “substantially increased” the likelihood of extreme droughts in the state.

Recent studies have looked at climate models to predict the future frequency of droughts while others have analyzed historical records to see the probability of drought. The paper published on Thursday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, however, looks at how much of the current drought can be blamed on global warming.

Scientists looked at factors that could impact the drought, including temperature, rainfall, humidity, wind speed and other factors and found that climate change intensified the drought in California between 8% and 27% in the period from 2012 to 2014.

Park Williams, a climate scientist at Columbia University and the lead author of the paper, said he hoped the findings would motivate the state to continue thinking about its response to the drought with a long-term strategy.

“California, I believe, has a history of when droughts end, they have a history of discontinuing their efforts to improve resiliency to future drought because those efforts are costly in the short-term,” Williams said.

But this strategy is not sustainable, according to the study. “I hope that the measures that are under way now to improve resilience to droughts don’t end as soon as it gets wet again in a few years,” Williams said....

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Thursday that July was the hottest month in history since record-keeping began in 1880. This came a month after scientists announced that the first half of 2015 was the hottest recorded.

Jessica Blunden, a Noaa climate scientist, said that heat records like this were “getting to be a monthly thing”.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015 ... al-warming

Contribution of anthropogenic warming to California drought during 2012–2014†

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... 64924/full
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Reddy
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Wed Aug 26, 2015 11:58 am

Thanks. Unfortunately, I don't need to read more news reports. Most of WA state (probably OR & ID also) has been covered in smoke, with air quality worse than China for nearly a month. What isn't burning is bone dry and primed for a rapid explosive fire. This weekend we expect a "storm" to blow in, which may just mean more lightning and wind. Not a good combination for late August.
Reddy
2011 SL; 9 bar, 47.45 AHr; 39,500 mi; rcv'd Aug 18, 2011
Long: http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.p ... al#p226115"
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edatoakrun
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Wed Aug 26, 2015 12:35 pm

Reddy wrote:Thanks. Unfortunately, I don't need to read more news reports. Most of WA state (probably OR & ID also) has been covered in smoke, with air quality worse than China for nearly a month. What isn't burning is bone dry and primed for a rapid explosive fire...

For the last ~month, I've been starting my day with a look at the smoke reports:

Areas of Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana are in the center of the worst smoke being generated by local fires, as of 8:45 a.m. MDT. Air quality forecasts show unhealthy levels of smoke in all four states, with unhealthy advisories extending into Canada.

http://wildfiretoday.com/2015/08/26/smo ... g-26-2015/

As you can see, the south wind has mostly blown the Trinity County fire smoke into the huge plume extending all the way from Hudson bay to Missouri.

So it's been fairly clear here, for the last few days. A week ago, after barely going outside for days, I was getting desperate for a walk, and headed east to Lassen Peak.

Even there, there was enough smoke to obscure the peak, in this photo taken from ~7-8 miles (?) away.

Image
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GRA
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Wed Aug 26, 2015 3:40 pm

The weekend before last, we were getting lots of smoke from the Rocky and Jerusalem fires (due to north winds) in the Bay Area, but it's been mostly okay since then once the wind backed northwest and west. You can still see smoke some days, but can't smell it or feel it in your throat. Still ~two months to go, unless we get lucky with some early rain - c'mon, El Nino :!: It's shaping up to be a big one, but we can only hope it arrives early.
Guy [I have lots of experience designing/selling off-grid AE systems, some using EVs but don't own one. Local trips are by foot, bike and/or rapid transit].

The 'best' is the enemy of 'good enough'. Copper shot, not Silver bullets.

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Nubo
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:53 am

Will the smoke particles provide more condensation nuclei in the atmosphere, leading to a wetter winter?
I noticed you're still working with polymers.

NeilBlanchard
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:57 am

The smoke and soot from the wildfires is darkening the snow and ice, that is for sure. Lower albedo means more rapid melting.

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RegGuheert
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Re: Western USA drought worst in modern era

Fri Aug 28, 2015 7:15 pm

Nubo wrote:Will the smoke particles provide more condensation nuclei in the atmosphere, leading to a wetter winter?
I doubt it. I believe you need BOTH higher humidity AND condensation nuclei to get more rain and/or snow. If the air is very dry, then there will not be more rain.
RegGuheert
2011 Leaf SL Demo vehicle
2011 miles at purchase. 10K miles on Apr 14, 2013. 20K miles (55.7Ah) on Aug 7, 2014, 30K miles (52.0Ah) on Dec 30, 2015, 40K miles (49.8Ah) on Feb 8, 2017.
Enphase Inverter Measured MTBF: M190, M215, M250, S280

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