Friday, December 21, 2012

Exchange w/ noted Chicago area Meteorologists...

...on Global warming/climate change: 1656 words (but shorter than my 22 August 2007 Contract for America's 1900 words):

Chicago area TV outlet transcript Thursday 13 December 2012 1100am
SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY  The Year’s Extreme Weather  

"Chicago residents hoping for a white Christmas may be out of luck this year, according to projections by local meteorologists. This week, the city officially broke the record for the longest stretch of time between measurable snowfalls, a record that stood at 281 days. As the days without any real snow continue, the record is extended further.

“'This is a climatological anomaly,” said meteorologist #1, a professor at a local  College. 'We’re seeing a pattern that’s not conducive at all to snowfall.'

This lack of snowfall isn’t the only anomaly for Illinois this year. This past winter was the warmest on record. The spring – in particular the month of March – had unusually high temperatures. A crippling summer drought left farmers with their hands tied, and few healthy crops to harvest. Northern Illinois was hit by a tornado. Major thunderstorms knocked out power, shutting down the music festival Lollapalooza. Not to mention the Midwest impact felt by Hurricane Sandy, which provoked strong winds and dangerous waves as far west as Lake Michigan as the storm ravaged whole communities on the East Coast.

Taken together, what do this year’s strange weather patterns mean for the future of Illinois’ economy and environment? Meteorologists are trying to wrap their heads around this very question.

"meteorologist #1: studies changes in thunderstorm patterns, using historical records and numerical models to forecast the future of storms. He admits the field of meteorology sometimes does a poor job of connecting the dots between unusual weather events and concrete, actionable insight for the public.

“As meteorologists, we’re good at saying, ‘Hey, this is anomalous,’” he said. “But it comes down to the vulnerability of the public. Can we relay our information to the public to make them better decision-makers?”

This year, small and large scale farmers were among the worst hit by the state’s extreme weather.

“Agriculture is a very vulnerable sector,” meteorologist #1 said, adding that Illinois farmers need to start thinking creatively to adapt to a shifting climate. Innovations like genetically modified crops – i.e. hybrid, drought-resistant breeds of corns – can help get farmers through a dry summer, at least to an extent.

But after last summer, some meteorologists say another year of dryness may exacerbate the industry’s problems in a dangerous way. Ninety percent of Illinois is currently considered abnormally dry due to the summer drought.

“If we have another drought and don’t get some moisture, farmers will have a tough time,” said meteorologist #2, a warning coordination meteorologist…. in Chicago. “I think another dry year would be very serious.”

Beyond agriculture, Illinois residents are vulnerable to extreme weather in other ways as well. It’s a reality, meteorologist #1 said, that resonates stronger than ever in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. In the case of Sandy, warning residents eight days in advance was still not enough to convince the most at-risk to evacuate.

“We lost 125 people because people chose not to evacuate,” meteorologist #1 said. “You can warn people eight days in a row, but ultimately it comes down to personal responsibility.”  meteorologist #1 says federal and state governments need to be more proactive in their approach to disasters like Sandy. That may involve distributing generators en masse to areas where power lines are expected to fall, as well as basics like bottled water, flashlights and batteries.

“Some of that was being done,” he said. “But not on a big enough scale.”
New technologies may help fill gaps in disaster preparedness. For meteorologist #1, cell phones may prove a crucial tool for future weather emergencies. He says he hopes that, one day, individuals can get automatic emergency notifications on their phones based on their GPS location. For those who don’t have cell phones, alerts can go out through more traditional mediums: commercial radio, television, and organized word-of-mouth campaigns.

For meteorologist #1, preemptive planning is key.

“These events are rare events," he said. “But when they happen, it’s chaos. In Sandy, we had eight days with the right information. [But] people didn’t leave. We could have prevented those deaths.”

For many cities, meteorologists say what’s missing is a sense of urgency.
“Recognize that there’s potential for a major disaster,” meteorologist #2 said. “It doesn’t always happen to someone else – it can happen to you.”

And the perennial question posed to meteorologists: to what extent are these local events linked to climate change? For many in this field, this becomes a tricky question. For meteorologist #2, it’s problematic to draw sweeping conclusions from individual events.  “We don’t always understand these events, even as meteorologists,” he said.

“Climate change is about long-term, global patterns,” meteorologist #1 said. “You can’t relate one single event in one area in one year to climate change.”  Still, he said, the dots are there for others to connect.

“I know [what we’re seeing now] is consistent with what published literature says climate change would look like,” meteorologist #1. “We’re seeing this year after year.”

My response to meteorologist #1 and meteorologist #2:

Global warming, climate change? Sunday 16 December 2012 10:51 AM
From: "Arnold Nelson" To: Meteorologist #1 and meteorologist #2:
Chicago Sunday AM 16 December 2012

Mssrs. Meteorologist #1 and Meteorologist #2

Gentlemen Your Thursday 13 December WTTW Science/Technology show on the current and potential weather situation was well organized and interesting to hear. Your closing line “I know [what we’re seeing now] is consistent with what published literature says climate change would look like, We’re seeing this year after year” suggests questions:

Your reference to 'numerical models'  suggests another numerical model that may help clear things up.  Projecting the 4.5 billion year age of the planet on an 80-year human lifetime results in one earth year equaling 0.562 seconds of the lifetime.  This leads to some interesting conclusions:

In this model humans first appeared on earth 39 days ago. They had no idea of measuring temperature before Galileo's 1593 thermometer invention, 4 minutes ago to our geezer. Discovery of carbon dioxide in 1630? 3 minutes 30 seconds ago.

If a doctor took an 80-year-ld's blood pressure and got 120 over 80, took another reading 5 minutes later and got 123 over 82, would she call an ambulance?

Arnold H Nelson

5056 North Marine Drive  Chicago 60640  773-677-3010

Response from Meteorologist #1

RE: Global warming, climate change?Monday, December 17, 2012 10:16 AM
From: Meteoroligost #1 "Arnold Nelson"


Thanks for taking the time to watch our interview on Chiarea TV outlet Arnold,

I think you have some misconceptions on the way climate models actually work.  Many of them are not "projecting" meteorological variables at given times in the future.  Rather, they are testing responses to things like increasing carbon emissions and changing land-use.

If you would like more information about climate change, please consider enrolling in a section of my "Climate and Global Change" course next semester.

Best, Meteorologist #1

Response from Meteorologist #2:

Re: Global warming, climate change?Monday, December 17, 2012 12:44 PM
Mr. Arnold,

Paleoclimatic data are critical for enabling us to extend our knowledge of climatic variability beyond what is measured by modern instruments. Many natural phenomena are climate dependent (such as the growth rate of a tree for example), and as such, provide natural 'archives' of climate information. Some useful paleoclimate data can be found in sources as diverse as tree rings, ice cores, corals, lake sediments (including fossil insects and pollen data), speleothems (stalactites etc), and ocean sediments. Some of these, including ice cores and tree rings provide us also with a chronology due to the nature of how they are formed, and so high resolution climate reconstruction is possible in these cases. However, there is not a comprehensive 'network' of paleoclimate data as there is with instrumental coverage, so global climate reconstructions are often difficult to obtain. Nevertheless, combining different types of paleoclimate records enables us to gain a near-global picture of climate changes in the distant past.

Meteoroligist #2

My response to responses of Meteorologist #1 and Meteorologist #2:

Global warming and climate change? (Mark II) Monday, December 17, 2012 7:06 PM
From: "Arnold Nelson" To: Meteorologist #1 and Meteorologist #2

Chicago Monday PM 17 December 2012

Mssrs. Meteorologist #1 and Meteorologist #2

RE: Global warming, climate change?Monday 17 December 2012 10:16 AM

Gentlemen, thanks so much for your prompt responses to my email.  I write letters to a lot of people, but rarely get such well thot out responses from people who are as well versed in their professions as you two.

Meteorologist #1, you say you think I “have some misconceptions on the way climate models actually work.”  I was not referring to “climate models” in general, I was referring to your show transcript that says you study “changes in thunderstorm patterns, using historical records and numerical models to forecast the future of storms.”   That sounds to me a lot more like using models, climate and/or numerical, to project  “meteorological variables at given times in the future” than “testing responses to things like increasing carbon emissions and changing land-use.”

Meteorologist #2, you say “Paleoclimatic data are critical for enabling us to extend our knowledge of climatic variability beyond what is measured by modern instruments,” then refer to “many natural phenomena...” such as “tree rings and ice cores.”

Some fast googling found “Old Tjikko, a 9,550 year old Norway Spruce, is the oldest known living individual clonal tree"  ((9,550 years works out to 90 minutes in my model) and  “Oldest Antarctic Ice Core Reveals Climate History...” that “... contains snowfall from the last 740,000 years....”   740,000 years is 118 hours in my model.  Both figures minuscule compared to the 4.5 billion year age of the planet.

Arnold  Nelson

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