By Ajit Niranjan
World leaders and businesses are not putting enough money into adapting to dangerous changes in the climate and must "urgently step up action," according to a report published Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Adaptation Has a Long Way to Go<p>The Adaptation Gap Report, now in its 5th year, finds "huge gaps" between what world leaders agreed to do under the 2015 <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/5-years-paris-climate-agreement/a-55901139" target="_blank">Paris Agreement</a> and what they need to do to keep their citizens safe from climate change.</p><p>A review by the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative of almost 1,700 examples of climate adaptation found that a third were in the early stages of implementation — and only 3% had reached the point of reducing risks.</p><p>Disasters like storms and droughts have grown stronger than they should be because people have warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels and chopping down rainforests. The world has heated by more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution and is on track to warm by about 3°C by the end of the century.</p><p>If world leaders <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-performance-index-how-far-have-we-come/a-55846406" target="_blank">deliver on recent pledges</a> to bring emissions to <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/joe-bidens-climate-pledges-are-they-realistic/a-56173821" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">net-zero</a> by the middle of the century, they could almost limit warming to 2°C. The target of the Paris Agreement, however, is to reach a target well below that — ideally 1.5°C. </p><p>There are two ways, scientists say, to lessen the pain that warming will bring: mitigating climate change by cutting carbon pollution and adapting to the hotter, less stable world it brings.</p>
The Cost of Climate Adaptation<p>About three-quarters of the world's countries have national plans to adapt to climate change, according to the report, but most lack the regulations, incentives and funding to make them work.</p><p>More than a decade ago, rich countries most responsible for climate change pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for poorer countries. UNEP says it is "impossible to answer" whether that goal has been met, while an OECD study published in November found that between 2013 and 2018, the target sum had not once been achieved. Even in 2018, which recorded the highest level of contributions, rich countries were still $20 billion short.</p><p>The yearly adaptation costs for developing countries alone are estimated at $70 billion. This figure is expected to at least double by the end of the decade as temperatures rise, and will hit $280-500 billion by 2050, according to the report.</p><p>But failing to adapt is even more expensive.</p><p>When powerful storms like cyclones Fani and Bulbul struck South Asia, early-warning systems allowed governments to move millions of people out of danger at short notice. Storms of similar strength that have hit East Africa, like <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/zimbabwe-after-cyclone-idai-building-climate-friendly-practices/a-54251885" target="_blank">cyclones Idai</a> and Kenneth, have proved more deadly because fewer people were evacuated before disaster struck.</p><p>The Global Commission on Adaptation estimated in 2019 that a $1.8 trillion investment in early warning systems, buildings, agriculture, mangroves and water resources could reap $7.1 trillion in benefits from economic activity and avoided costs when disasters strike.</p>
Exploring Nature-Based Solutions<p>The report also highlights how restoring nature can protect people from climate change while benefiting local communities and ecology.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-fires-risk-climate-change-bushfires-australia-california-extreme-weather-firefighters/a-54817927" target="_blank">Wildfires</a>, for instance, could be made less punishing by restoring grasslands and regularly burning the land in controlled settings. Indigenous communities from Australia to Canada have done this for millennia in a way that encourages plant growth while reducing the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. Reforestation, meanwhile, can stop soil erosion and flooding during heavy rainfall while trapping carbon and protecting wildlife.</p><p>In countries like Brazil and Malaysia, governments could better protect coastal homes from floods and storms by restoring <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mudflats-mangroves-and-marshes-the-great-coastal-protectors/a-50628747" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mangroves</a> — tangled trees that grow in tropical swamps. As well as anchoring sediments and absorbing the crash of waves, mangroves can store carbon, help fish populations grow and boost local economies through tourism. </p><p>While nature-based solutions are often cheaper than building hard infrastructure, their funding makes up a "tiny fraction" of adaptation finance, the report authors wrote. An analysis of four global climate funds that spent $94 billion on adaptation projects found that just $12 billion went to nature-based solutions and little of this was spent implementing projects on the ground.</p><p>But little is known about their long-term effectiveness. At higher temperatures, the effects of climate change may be so great that they overwhelm natural defenses like mangroves.</p><p>By 2050, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/rising-sea-levels-should-we-let-the-ocean-in-a-50704953/a-50704953" target="_blank">coastal floods</a> that used to hit once a century will strike many cities every year, according to a 2019 report on oceans by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the gold standard on climate science. This could force dense cities on low-lying coasts to build higher sea walls, like in Indonesia and South Korea, or evacuate entire communities from sinking islands, like in Fiji.</p><p>It's not a case of replacing infrastructure, said Matthias Garschagen, a geographer at Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany and IPCC author, who was not involved in the UNEP report. "The case for nature-based solutions is often misinterpreted as a battle... but they're part of a toolkit that we've ignored for too long."</p>
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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" data-width="1244" data-height="1244" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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The remains of at least 214 people who died attempting to cross the Mexico-Arizona border have been recovered so far in 2020, and advocates blame extreme heat, The Associated Press reports.
The figure is just 10 shy of the overall annual record from 2010, according to the nonprofit Humane Borders and the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office, which together map recoveries of human remains. This year saw extreme heat — a hallmark signal of human-caused climate change — across the American West. Phoenix, Arizona endured its hottest summer on record with 144 days in triple digits and an average daily temperature around 110°F throughout July and August.
Those months were also the state's driest on record. Trump's border wall also likely contributed to the uptick in deaths. "The wall has sent a lot of people to rough terrain in our area," Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada, a critic of the president and advocate for greater compassion in immigration policy whose jurisdiction includes Nogales, Arizona, told The Associated Press. "It's like driving livestock into a canyon where they ultimately die."
As reported by The Associated Press:
In southern Arizona, No More Deaths and similar humanitarian groups leave water jugs and other provisions in remote places. The group gained national attention when one of its members was tried and acquitted last year of harboring migrants.
[Tony] Estrada, the Santa Cruz County sheriff, said he's worried officials may see higher numbers of deaths next year if big groups of migrants surge to the border, hoping Joe Biden's administration is more welcoming.
"These people will keep coming because most of them have nothing back home," Estrada said.
For a deeper dive:
Wildfires burned more acres this year in the U.S. than ever before in modern records, E&E reports based on data published by the National Interagency Fire Center.
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By Jeff Masters, PhD and Dana Nuccitelli
Calendar year 2020 was an extreme and abnormal year, in so many ways. The global coronavirus pandemic altered people's lives around the world, as did extreme weather and climate events. Let's review the year's top 10 such events.
1. Hottest Year on Record?<p>The official rankings will not be released until January 14, but <a href="https://twitter.com/ClimateOfGavin/status/1338518056457396226" target="_blank">according to NASA</a>, Earth's average surface temperature in 2020 is likely to tie with 2016 for the hottest year on record, making the last seven years the seven hottest on record.</p><p>Remarkably, the record warmth of 2020 occurred during a minimum in the solar cycle and in a year in which a moderate La Niña event formed. Surface cooling of the tropical Pacific during La Niña events typically causes a slight global cool-down, as does the minimum of the solar cycle, making it difficult to set all-time heat records. The record heat of 2020 in these circumstances is a demonstration of how powerful human causes of global warming have become.</p>
Figure 1. The eye of category 5 Hurricane Iota on November 16, the strongest hurricane of the 2020 season, as seen by the Sentinel-2 satellite. Image credit: Pierre Markuse<h4>2. The Wild 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season</h4><p>The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season produced an extraordinary 30 named storms (highest on record), 13 hurricanes (second-highest on record), and six major hurricanes (tied for second-highest on record): more than double the activity of an average season (12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes).</p><p>The 2020 season was notable not only for its record number of named storms (after breaking into the Greek alphabet by the ridiculously early date of September 18), but also for its record number of rapidly intensifying storms (10), record number of landfalling U.S. named storms (12), and record number of landfalling U.S. hurricanes (six). Every single mile of the mainland U.S. coast from Texas to Maine was under a watch or warning related to tropical cyclones at some point in 2020. U.S. hurricane damage exceeded $37 billion, according to insurance broker Aon, the eighth-highest annual total on record.</p><p>Two catastrophic category 4 hurricanes hit Central America in November: Hurricane Iota, the latest category 5 storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, and Hurricane Eta, the deadliest tropical cyclone worldwide in 2020, with at least 274 people listed as dead or missing. At least seven hurricanes from 2020 will be worthy of having their names retired: Iota, Eta, Zeta, Delta, Sally, Laura, and Isaias – although there is still <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/11/17/greek-letter-hurricane-names-retire/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">no official mechanism</a> for retiring storm names from the Greek alphabet. The record for most names retired in one Atlantic season was set in 2005, when five hurricanes had their names retired.</p>
Figure 2. Global energy-related emissions (top) and annual change (bottom) in gigatons of carbon dioxide, with projected 2020 levels highlighted in red. Other major events are indicated to a give a sense of scale. Image credit: Carbon Brief, using data from the Global Energy Review
3. Record-High Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Levels Despite Record Emissions Drop<p>As a result of restrictions taken to curb the coronavirus pandemic, carbon emissions to the atmosphere in 2020 declined by 9 to 10% in the U.S. and 6 to 7% globally, although some of those reductions were offset by carbon released by wildfires. Those are the largest annual carbon emissions declines since World War II and far more than the 1% global and 6% U.S. emissions drops brought about by the 2008 Great Recession.</p><p>Nevertheless, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose by 2.6 parts per million from 2019 to 414 ppm in 2020. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere will not decline until human emissions reach net zero. Moreover, as coronavirus restrictions were lifted during 2020, global carbon pollution nearly rebounded to pre-COVID levels.</p>
Figure 3. A wildfire in the Sakha Republic, Arctic Circle, Siberia, Russia creates smoke and pyrocumulus clouds on July 9, 2020. A record heat wave in Siberia during June led to the Arctic's first-ever 38.0°C (100.4°F) temperature and helped drive the Arctic's worst wildfire season on record. Image credit: Copernicus Sentinel data via Pierre Markuse<h4>4. An Apocalyptic Wildfire Season</h4><p>The year 2020 brought record levels of fire activity to the U.S. and Arctic, but unusually low levels in Canada and tropical Africa, resulting in a below-average year for global fire activity, according to the <a href="https://atmosphere.copernicus.eu/wildfires-americas-and-tropical-africa-2020-compared-previous-years" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service</a>. According to Insurance broker Aon, the global direct cost of wildfires in 2020 was $17 billion, ranking as the fifth-costliest wildfire year, behind 2017, 2018, 2015 (major Indonesian fires), and 2010 (major Russian fires).</p><p>The Australian bushfire season ending in early 2020 (due to seasons in the Southern hemisphere being the reverse of those in the Northern hemisphere) was also <a href="https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/01/how-climate-change-influenced-australias-unprecedented-fires/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a record-breaker</a>, having burned more than 46 million acres and destroyed more than 3,500 homes.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">National Interagency Fire Center</a> reported that U.S. wildfires burned 10.25 million acres as of December 18, 2020, the highest yearly total <a href="https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_stats_totalFires.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">since accurate records began in 1983</a>. The previous record was 10.13 million acres in 2015. <a href="https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/regional/time-series/109/tavg/3/10/1895-2020?base_prd=true&begbaseyear=1901&endbaseyear=2000&trend=true&trend_base=10&begtrendyear=1895&endtrendyear=2020" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The hottest August through October period</a> in Western U.S. history, combined with severe drought and a once-in-a-generation offshore wind event, conspired to bring about an apocalyptic western U.S. wildfire season. Total U.S. wildfire damages in 2020 were $16.5 billion, said Aon, ranking as its third-costliest year on record, behind 2017 ($24 billion) and 2018 ($22 billion). Wildfires caused at least 43 direct U.S. deaths. But the indirect death toll among people 65 and older in California alone during the period August 1-September 10 – due to wildfire smoke inhalation – was likely between 1,200 and 3,000, researchers at Stanford University reported in <a href="http://www.g-feed.com/2020/09/indirect-mortality-from-recent.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a September 11 study</a>. The 4.2 million acres burned in California in 2020 was more than double the previous record set in 2018.</p><h4>5. Super Typhoon Goni: Strongest Landfalling Tropical Cyclone on Record</h4><p>Super Typhoon Goni made landfall near Bato, Catanduanes Island, Philippines, on November 1 with sustained winds of 195 mph and a central pressure of 884 mb, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, or JTWC. Goni was the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in world recorded history, using one-minute average wind speeds from the National Hurricane Center for the Atlantic/Northeast Pacific and one-minute average winds from JTWC for the rest of the planet's ocean basins.</p><p>Goni killed 31 people, damaged or destroyed 250,000 homes, and caused over $1 billion in damage, tying it with Typhoon Bopha in 2012 and Typhoon Vamco in 2020 as the Philippines' second-most expensive typhoon on record, adjusted for inflation. Only Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 ($11.1 billion) was more damaging.</p><p>Ominously, seven of the 10 strongest landfalls in recorded history have occurred since 2006.</p>
Figure 5. Arctic sea ice age near the time of the annual minimum in 1985 (left) and in 2020 (right). There is very little old, thick ice left in the Arctic, increasing the chances of a late-summer ice-free Arctic by the 2030s. Image credit: Zack Labe
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The climate crisis already has a death toll, and it will get worse if we don't act to reduce emissions.
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The world's largest sand island has been on fire for the past six weeks due to a campfire, and Australia's firefighters have yet to prevent flames from destroying the fragile ecosystem.
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By Kenny Stancil
As the climate crisis fuels devastating wildfires across the western United States and melts Arctic sea ice at an alarming rate, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Wednesday that Earth just experienced the hottest September on record and that 2020 is on pace to be one of the three hottest years on the books.
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A new report from the United Nations found that political leaders and industry leaders are failing to do the necessary work to stop the world from becoming an "uninhabitable hell" for millions of people as the climate crisis continues and natural disasters become more frequent, as Al-Jazeera reported.
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By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.
By Jeff Berardelli
This story was originally published on CBS News on September 9, 2020. All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication.
Right on the heels of arguably the West Coast's most intense heat wave in modern history comes the most ferocious flare-up of catastrophic wildfires in recent memory. Meanwhile, just a few hundred miles east, a 60-degree temperature drop over just 18 hours in Wyoming and Colorado was accompanied by an extremely rare late-summer dumping of up to 2 feet of snow.
It's not coincidence, it's climate change.
Increase in California areas burned by wildfires, 1975 to 2015. WILLIAMS, ABATZOGLOU ET AL., EARTH'S FUTURE<p>Abatzoglou makes clear that there are many factors — not just climate change — that contribute to the escalation of fire activity. These include the increased settlement of people in fire-prone lands and a legacy of fire suppression in many lower-elevation forests, which led to years of heavy growth of trees and brush.</p><p>"We can focus on the bad fortune of the <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lightning-siege-hits-california-with-nearly-12000-strikes-in-a-week-2020-08-22/" target="_blank">lightning siege</a> around the San Francisco Bay Area, or the multitude of <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/gender-reveal-fire-party-california-wildfire/" target="_blank">stupid human tricks</a> that materialized in large wildfires, but the confluence of long-term and short-term environmental factors set the table for the 2020 fire season," he said. </p><p>In other words, though climate change does not cause the heat waves or fires, it sets the stage so that when conditions are ripe, like the summer and fall of 2020, heat waves are more intense and fires burn more fiercely. </p>
CLIMATE CENTRAL<p>This summer has been extremely hot and dry in the West. According to NOAA, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah each had their <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/news/summer-2020-ranked-as-one-of-hottest-on-record-for-us" target="_blank">warmest August</a> on record. Research has found that heat waves are now larger, getting more intense and lasting longer than decades ago. Specifically in California, extreme heat waves — like the ones of recent weeks — are now <a href="https://crd.lbl.gov/assets/Uploads/Wehner/California-heatwave-attribution-and-projection.pdf" target="_blank">3 to 4 degrees</a> Fahrenheit warmer due to climate change. By 2080, that same study finds such heat waves will intensify by another 3 to 5 degrees.</p><p>This week's NOAA report also finds that the same general area in the West also experienced one of its driest Augusts on record. This short-term dry and hot pattern is mainly due to natural cycles in weather, and from season to season has the biggest impact on the amount of area burned because it determines how dry the forests and brush are.</p><p>"Across the Western U.S. forests, we find that climatic measures of fuel dryness explain about ¾ of the year-to-year variability in the burned area — highlighting that climate very strongly enables big fire seasons in warm-dry summers and inhibits widespread fire activity in cool-wet summers," explains Abatzoglou.</p><p>But over the long term, human-caused climate change has been gradually drying out the atmosphere and the fuel. "The observed changes in fuel dryness [plus the] number of days of high fire danger have been particularly stark in the American West over the past half-century," says Abatzoglou.</p><p>Since the 1970s the warm season in the West has heated up by 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit. This extra heat has increased the evaporation of moisture from the surface. While atmospheric moisture has also increased some, it has not increased nearly as fast as the temperature. That has caused a long-term "moisture deficit" and has accelerated the rate of foliage drying. This is part of the reason why, according to research, the West has entered into one of the worst <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-drought-california-western-united-states-study/" target="_blank">megadroughts</a> in the past 1,200 years.<br> <br>A <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2019EF001210" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recent study</a>, co-authored by Abatzoglou, found a direct link with <em>nearly all</em> of the increase in summer forest-fire area during the period from 1972–2018 driven by the increased moisture deficit. To illustrate just how impactful the moisture deficit is, right now, as <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/california-wildfire-overruns-14-firefighters-rugged-mountains/" target="_blank">unprecedented wildfires</a> burn out of control, the deficit is at record low levels in the majority of the Western U.S.</p>
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By Jeff Berardelli
From the historic heat wave and wildfires in the West, to the massive derecho that tore through the middle of the nation, to the record-breaking pace of this year's hurricane season, the unprecedented and concurrent extreme conditions resemble the chaotic climate future scientists have been warning us about for decades — only it's happening right now.
<div id="004a5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="809799a50bac6ced919c6da89ce0efec"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1297987100491554816" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Multiple extremes resemble the chaotic climate future scientists have been warning us about for decades — only it's… https://t.co/CjhLfao5rc</div> — CBS News (@CBS News)<a href="https://twitter.com/CBSNews/statuses/1297987100491554816">1598299214.0</a></blockquote></div><p>To be sure, these events are not all related to each other, but the one thing they do have in common is that climate change makes each one more likely. The simple explanation is that there's more energy in the system and that energy is expended in the form of more extreme heat, fire, wind and rain.</p><p>It may be tempting to look at these extremes as a "new normal," but Dr. Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, says while it may be new, it won't be normal.</p><p>"For some time we have talked about a 'new normal' but the issue is that it keeps changing. It does not stop at a new state. That change is what is so disruptive," he said.</p>
California Wildfires<p>The fires unfolding in California right now have no parallel in modern times. With more than 1 million acres burned in just one week, the season is already historic with more acres burned in this past week than is typical of an entire year. Two of the state's top three largest fires on record are burning at the same time — the LNU and SCU complex fires — with the likelihood that one of these will take over the top spot soon.</p><p>As of Monday morning, CalFire <a href="https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/" target="_blank">reports</a> over 7,000 fires have burned more than 1.4 million acres this season, overwhelming resources to the point where many of the smaller fires are being allowed to burn. CalFire stated that to fight these fires to the maximum of their ability, the agency would need nearly <a href="https://weatherwest.com/archives/7459" target="_blank">10 times</a> more firefighting resources than are available.</p><p>As is the case in any natural disaster, the cause can be traced to multiple coinciding events. In this case, the spark for most of these fires was a <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lightning-siege-hits-california-with-nearly-12000-strikes-in-a-week-2020-08-22/" target="_blank">siege of lightning strikes</a> as a result of moisture drawn into California from two decaying tropical systems in the eastern Pacific, which ignited dry brush.</p><p>Daniel Swain is a well-known climate scientist who specializes in studying the link between climate change and weather in the West at the University of California, Los Angeles. In a <a href="https://weatherwest.com/archives/7459" target="_blank">blog post</a> he described how even someone like him, well-versed in climate disaster, is shocked by the current situation: "I'm essentially at a loss for words to describe the scope of the lightning-sparked fire outbreak that has rapidly evolved in northern California – even in the context of the extraordinary fires of recent years. It's truly astonishing."</p>
<div id="9db58" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ab45cd0dbe96672e8d896463f1d8fcca"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1296620330861989889" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">"Vapor pressure deficit" (gap between how much moisture *could* be in the air vs. how much is *actually* there) is… https://t.co/LXKN0hUQLi</div> — Daniel Swain (@Daniel Swain)<a href="https://twitter.com/Weather_West/statuses/1296620330861989889">1597973351.0</a></blockquote></div><p>According to the paper, "Nearly all of the increase in summer forest-fire area during 1972–2018 was driven by increased vapor pressure deficit."</p>
Midwest Derecho<p>A derecho is a particularly fierce and long-lasting line of thunderstorms, often causing winds over 75 mph. While these weather events are common during summer, the <a href="https://www.weather.gov/dmx/2020derecho" target="_blank">event</a> that took place August 10 in Iowa and Illinois seemed otherworldly.</p><p>The squall line <a href="https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/147154/derecho-flattens-iowa-corn" target="_blank">plowed a path</a> 800 miles long and 40 miles wide through communities and corn fields, damaging <a href="https://www.radioiowa.com/2020/08/11/43-of-iowa-corn-soybean-crop-hit-by-mondays-storm/" target="_blank">43%</a> of Iowa's corn and soybean crop and causing nearly <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/iowa-storm-derecho-seeking-4-billion-dollars-disater-aid/" target="_blank">$4 billion in damage</a>. Winds are estimated to have reached up to 140 mph, with hurricane-force winds <a href="https://cbs2iowa.com/news/local/how-does-the-2020-iowa-derecho-compare-to-others" target="_blank">lasting</a> 40 to 50 minutes.</p><p>At first glance it would seem that this is just a freak natural event, with no real connection to climate change, but that may not be the case. While there is not much research on the connection between climate change and derechos, one <a href="https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2017AGUFM.A12C..01P/abstract" target="_blank">recent paper</a> found some alarming results.</p><p>The research team used a climate model to simulate mesoscale convective systems (MCSs), a technical term for masses of thunderstorms, in a warming world. These MCSs are the parent structures which sometimes spawn derechos. Using a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario, the paper concluded: "At the end of the century, the number of intense MCSs are projected to more than triple in North America during summer due to more favorable environmental conditions." </p><p>The research also found that MCSs' maximum hourly precipitation rates will increase by 15% to 40% in the future, due to a warmer atmosphere loaded with more moisture. "The moisture source for MCSs in the central U.S. is predominantly the Gulf of Mexico and climate change will increase the low-level jet stream moisture transport from the Gulf northward," explains lead author Dr. Andreas Prein, from the National Center For Atmospheric Research.</p><p>"How this all relates to changes in derecho frequency and intensity is poorly understood," Prein admits, but now that climate models are capable of modeling this, he plans to make it a priority in future studies.</p><p>While Mann did not comment specifically on derechos, he does feel extreme events are not properly captured in current climate models. "I have argued that the climate models are likely underpredicting the impact on the frequency and severity of various types of extreme summer weather events due to deficiencies in their ability to capture some of the relevant jet stream dynamics."</p>
Hurricane Season<p>Having two tropical systems like Marco and Laura in late August, the beginning of the peak of hurricane season, is not abnormal, even if the storms are very close to one another. But what is abnormal is the record-setting pace of the current hurricane season. So far the Atlantic season has tallied 14 named storms, 10 days ahead of record pace. That's two more than the average number for an entire season, which runs through the end of November. Seasonal forecasters are <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hurricane-season-2020-forecast-extremely-active-24-named-storms/" target="_blank">predicting up to 25 named systems</a> this year, which would place second behind 2005.</p><p>While there are many factors that contribute to how active a hurricane season will be, the most obvious is the warm water which fuels storm development. This year, nearly the entire tropical Atlantic Basin is above normal. This is part of a long-term trend of warming in which Atlantic sea surface temperatures have<a href="https://twitter.com/ClimateCentral/status/1005109784750776320/photo/1" target="_blank"> increased</a> by around 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900, and the measure of <a href="https://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/" target="_blank">Ocean Heat Content</a> hits record highs each and every year.</p><p>Warmer ocean temperatures do not guarantee more storms, but they do tip the balance, giving storms that extra boost to develop. After years of <a href="https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2019/07/how-climate-change-is-making-hurricanes-more-dangerous/" target="_blank">research</a>, climate science is still not sure how a warming climate will impact the number of systems in the future, but there is consensus that, in general, hurricanes will get stronger and the strongest, most destructive hurricanes will get more frequent. Since major hurricanes — <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hurricane-categories-what-the-ratings-scale-means/" target="_blank">Category 3 and greater</a> — are responsible for 85% of the damage, a warmer climate is likely to have devastating economic and human consequences.</p>
Compound Events<p>Within research circles and among emergency planners, the concept of <span style="background-color: initial;"><a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/climate-change-multiple-disasters-at-once-study-warns/" target="_blank">compound threats</a></span> has become a very popular subject. For years now scientists have warned that increasing population, exposure and vulnerability combined with extreme events spiked by climate change, would overwhelm resources and compromise emergency response. Experts argue we are now seeing that unfold in real time.</p><p>"These equally profound events occurring in different parts of the country at the same time — what we call compounded or connected extremes — run the risk of putting significant strain on resources, budgets, and the supply chain," said Bowen. </p><p>This is a topic often missed in general discussions of climate change. It may seem easy to dismiss a few degree rise in global temperatures as inconsequential. However, when a cascade of extreme events, each made worse by human-caused climate change, pile on top of one another, it exposes the fragility of interconnected human systems. </p><p>"Add in the continued complications posed by COVID-19, and you're faced with even greater challenges in trying to get communities back on their feet," Bowen said.</p><p>Bowen recently authored a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0790-4" target="_blank">paper</a> with other prominent scientists attempting to tackle this complicated issue. He says because of socioeconomic factors, population spreading into more high-risk regions, and an acceleration of climate change, more intense events "will only exacerbate the impacts of these compound scenarios in the future." </p><p>Experts warn that what we are witnessing in the present moment is a window into everyday life in the not-too-distant future if humans do not reverse course and curb emissions. This is how climate change becomes a truly destabilizing force. That's why Bowen and colleagues argue that much more urgency is needed to identify these unexpected combinations and the risks they pose to society.</p>
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