June is the start of meteorological summer. Right on cue, there are two hurricanes in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
But summer in India is almost over, as the monsoon moves in. And none too soon; the death toll in the extreme heat is now at 2200.
Meanwhile, summer hasn’t started yet on Lake Superior. And a new study links extreme weather to global warming.
Let’s go Around The World.
Atlantic Hurricane Season Starts Quietly
The first day of June marks the ‘official’ start of the Atlantic Basin tropical season. It’s probably not a good idea, because very few storms form in June or early July, and the ones that do are usually weak. As a result, citizens become complacent, and when the peak season hits — August and September — many are unprepared.
Though the first named storm came in May, nothing is now on the horizon, as the waters are still relatively cool and winds aloft are unfavorable for tropical storm development.
Double Tropical Trouble In The Eastern Pacific
To make up for the quiet tropics elsewhere, the eastern Pacific is beginning 2015 where it left off 2014 — with storms forming south and southwest of Mexico and moving to the northwest. Hurricane Andres peaked yesterday as a category three storm, and is now fizzling out over open water, never a threat to any land.
On Andres’s heels is Blanca, but Blanca is much closer to shore, and though it is not expected to hit Mexico, it is a reminder that hurricanes have an increased likelihood of making Mexican landfall during El Niño years. Last year, Hurricane Odile struck Cabo San Lucas with category three winds of 125 miles per hour.
Rain Finally Ends In Texas
The Texas floods are receding as the wicked rains finally moved east, allowing a drier flow of air to temporarily overspread the region. Nevertheless, water is still draining into rivers, especially the Trinity, which remains well above flood stage.
As the month ended, many cities set May rainfall records, and some set all-time one-month records. The period of calm may not last much beyond next weekend, as Weather Pattern Government, the sluggish setup that produced all the rain, looks like it may be back in session soon.
Summer Comes Late On Lake Superior
Lake Superior, shared by the United States and Canada, is the second largest freshwater lake in the world. It is 1,300 feet deep, and spring sunshine is efficiently dispersed into the depths. As a result, the surface of the lake doesn’t warm up until later in the summer.
Right now, most of the surface water is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In a normal year, the temperature rises to about 65 in September.
Indian Death Toll Climbs To 2200; Relief Cannot Come (Mon)Soon Enough
The death toll in the brutal heat wave that has swept India the last three weeks is now just shy of 2200. The only greater toll was in 1998, which interestingly was also an El Niño year. El Niño Eggplant has ramped up considerably in the past month.
The monsoon seems to be about on time, and most of southeast India, hardest hit by this heat wave, should have some relief in the next couple of days, with the heavier rains and much lower temperatures beginning by mid-month.
Another Study Links Global Warming To Extreme Weather
A study of arctic ice melt and differential warming between the arctic and middle latitudes (Evidence linking rapid Arctic warming to mid-latitude weather patterns), published yesterday in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, argues that the warming arctic weakens the jet stream, and a weaker jet stream gets bogged down more easily, causing persistent rain, snow, heat, or cold.
The general argument is simple: The jet stream is a reflection of the temperature gradient (difference in temperature) from north to south. Since the arctic is warming faster than the rest of the hemisphere, this temperature gradient is weakening.
Though the empirical evidence supports the claim, there is no rigorous deductive reasoning that is consistent with the changes we observe.
One problem weather scientists face is the complexity of the system: A thin envelope of mixed gases surrounding a spheroidal mass with irregular terrain and highly variable surface types, spinning rapidly and oriented at a significant angle to its plane of revolution around a heat source. The physics consists of six equations with six variables. Modern mathematics cannot solve the equations analytically.
Much current meteorological research consists of producing numerical solutions to the equations by constant iteration. Here a second problem arises: The system is chaotic. That means that any slight error in the initial conditions soon swamps the forecast, leading to large errors in predictions.
The Future Is In Doubt
The facts that the land and sea are warming and the climate is changing are not in doubt. Though it seems highly likely that more extreme weather will be one result, that is not a certainty. In fact, the climate may change in unexpected ways — with unexpected consequences. And that may be the biggest challenge we face.
The planet is warming and the weather is changing — but the end game is still not apparent. What changes do you observe?
Decoding Science. One article at a time.