Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Planet Earth 2015: Continued Global Warming; Intensifying Major Warm ENSO Event; Update on Historic Southern California July Rainfall

A stunning image of Planet Earth* taken on July 6, 2015 by NASA's recently-launched Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite with the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) from a distance of 1 million miles away (zoomed in, obviously).

*To clarify, EPIC has 10 narrowband filters ranging from ultraviolet to near infrared narrowband filters. This image is a composite of the green, blue, and red visible filters. What is extra unusual about this photo of the Northern and "Western" Hemisphere(s) is that it captures only and entirely the daylight side of the planet at the moment it was taken (just a couple weeks after the Northern Hemisphere summer solstice).

Source here.


I'm home tonight from the gym following a slow day at work. (I think the work pace should pick up this week.) I just made some dinner.

I did not go to the "Screen on the Green" tonight, in part because it was disgustingly hot and humid again today (Monday) -- 97F high with daytime dew points around 71F. This followed Sunday's 98F high at KDCA with daytime dew points reaching 74F for a period.

By way of explanation, all things being equal, dew points tend to go down during the heating of the day due to surface convection / mixing and increase after nightfall as things settle down and the boundary layer decouples.

It wasn't quite as hot and disgusting at KBWI and KIAD, but still ... I hate this weather, always have.

Speaking of things meteorological and climatological (changing), NOAA reports (through its climate monitoring and record-keeping arm (NCDC)) that June 2015 was the warmest June on record -- and combined with all the other record warm months this year, the first half of 2015 was also the warmest first half of the year on record.

June 2015 blended land and sea surface temperature anomalies in degrees Celsius with respect to 1981 - 2010 base period.

June 2015 blended land and sea surface temperature percentiles with respect to the 1981 - 2010 base period.


I'm posting some of the main images, but I'm not going to post a lot of details on this depressingly familiar story but here is a good Capital Weather Gang (CWG) entry about the record warm June. And here is an AP story via Huffington Post about the record warm first half of the year.

The direct NCDC NOAA links are here and (as a joint summary) here, respectively.

January–June 2015 blended land and sea surface temperature anomalies in degrees Celsius with respect to the 1981 - 2010 base period.


The strong and still strengthening warm ENSO ("El NiƱo") event in the tropical eastern Pacific is fueling this warmth but the major ENSO event itself is likely tied into increasing natural modes of climate variability (e.g., ENSO, PDO, AO / NAO, etc.) thanks to the gigatons of CO2 and other greenhouse gases human civilization is spewing into the atmosphere.

(Sorry, Teabaggers, there's still no global cooling, no matter what you heard on Fox or rightwing hate radio, and James MOUNTAIN Inhofe's snowball is still missing in action.)

The January-June combined global (top), Northern Hemisphere (middle), and Southern Hemisphere (bottom) surface mean temperature anomalies for the period 1880 - 2015 versus the 20th Century average.*


The January-June land and ocean combined (top), ocean (middle) and land (bottom) global surface mean temperature anomalies for the period 1880 - 2015 versus the 20th Century average.*


*I believe that both of these trends are with respect to the full 20th Century average, not the 1981 - 2010 base period that NOAA uses for determining what is "normal." These reports can be a bit confusing because they shift unannounced back-and-forth between these different averages.

A table of the top 10 warmest 12-month periods for the period 1880 - 2015 for average global land and ocean temperature anomalies, updated through June 2015.

Again, I think the anomalies are with respect to the 20th Century average (rather than the shorter 1981 - 2010 base period).


Here is the CWG entry on the tremendous warm ENSO (link embedded): El Nino intensifying, could rival strongest in recorded history.

Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the eastern tropical and sub-tropical Pacific as of July 20, 2015. Source here.


More on the Historic Southern California Weekend Rains ...

Two young children enjoying -- and sort of amazed by -- the unprecedented deluge in San Diego over the weekend of July 18 - 19, 2015 (something neither of them may have ever even seen). Image source here.

(To be clear, I assumed the date was July 18th but it could have been the 19th. The photo caption did not give a date.)


CWG FINALLY had an entry about the tremendous -- indeed, unprecedented -- weekend rainfall in Southern California, although it is in the context of how even that wasn't enough to dent California's long-term devastating drought. The entry is here (link embedded): All that record-breaking rain in California still isn't enough to dent the drought.

I posted two comments (Arcturus24) there. I never get any thumbs up. Oh, well. Guess I don't make people feel good. You can say that again.

I won't recap the entire entry but I want to post two images from it with explanation along with a radar image from Sunday night when the second batch of tropical moisture associated with the remnants of Hurricane Delores moved through. The first batch occurred on Saturday and I wrote extensively about it here.

Pacific Southwest sector, U.S. composite radar national mosaic, 0338UTC (8:38PM PDT) July 20th (19th), 2015.

This was the second batch of rain that moved into Southern California late on Sunday.  The first and more widespread was on Saturday morning.


Of note, San Diego Int'l Airport / Lindbergh Field (KSAN)** had an additional 0.66" -- bringing its two-day total to an astonishing 1.69" and its monthly total to 1.70" (there was 0.01" on July 1st).

**As a correction, KSGX reports a very early San Diego July monthly record of 1.29" in 1865 (before the actual advent of modern NWS record-keeping), not the 0.92" in 1902. If that record is accurate, it means the 1.03" on Saturday did not break the all-time monthly record wet July in a single day. (I would link to this record event report but the web link will soon change.)

A color-coded map of observed rainfall totals across Southern California for the 48-hour period ending 12Z (5AM PDT) July 20, 2015.


By contrast, the "immediate" L.A. area didn't get as much rainfall on Sunday night as this radar suggested it would: Los Angeles Int'l Airport (KLAX) picked up 0.03" (not a daily record) and downtown L.A. (KCQT) had just 0.02" (a daily record) while Long Beach Airport (KLBG) had 0.19" (a daily record). The two-day totals for these locales was 0.35"; 0.38"; and 0.54", respectively.

Just FYI: the 0.38" at KCQT is equal to the current June-July-August-September four-month average at that spot.

The real jackpot amounts were in places such as Paso Robles, Ramona, and Riverside where the two-day totals at the airports were 2.17" (KPRB), 2.38" (KRNM), and 1.89" (KRAL), respectively . (The Paso Robles total came primarily on Sunday when 2.08" fell, surpassing the old daily record of 0.01").

Some areas (not at NWS climate station sites) had even higher amounts -- up to 5 inches reported (see map above).

The CWG entry reposted a NOAA map showing how much rain is needed to break the drought and the odds of it happening in the next six months:

Map of precipitation needed in the next six months (left) and probability of receiving that much precipitation (right) in that same time period (i.e., through the end of 2015) to end the drought in California.

My issue with the probability map is that in a situation with such an extreme warm ENSO event, the Pacific Ocean suddenly becomes "available" for summer / early fall rainfall in Southern California. I don't think these maps take that into account even if they are based on ENSO-altered climatology because not even those years take into account summer / early fall rainfall possibilities. 

It's interesting to think about. As or me, I keep imaging the Los Angeles of Blade Runner (November 2019!).


OK, that's about all for now.

I was actually going to post my Sunday bike ride pictures; some pictures of Tacoma; and the New Horizons Pluto (and Charon!) pictures, along with some links to columns I read and liked (Krugman, O'Hehir, Taibbi, etc.), but it's too late for that right now. I'll try again tomorrow (when weather-related stuff should not intervene).

Another mini-"Car2Go" and my (old) bicycle in front of it locked to a street sign along Jenifer Street (yes, one "n") near Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 5:51PM July 19, 2015.

I had just had an early dinner at Chads restaurant before continuing on my way. It was so flippin' hot and humid and brightly sunny outside, although inside the restaurant, it was very cool and pleasant.


As for updating my blog late tomorrow night, one caveat: my computer is supposed to be "reimaged" tomorrow morning at work, so that could potentially affect my blogging ability tomorrow night for whatever unknown reasons.


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