Global Weather Change
With the change of seasons upon us, from Summer to Fall, I decided to take a closer look at the causes for all the wacky weather I've seen around the globe this year so far. And, by chance, the September 2012 National Geographic magazine's lead story is called "What's Up With The Weather?" Subtitles are:
Summer in March
The informed consensus seems to be that there is not one single factor that is creating this global warming, but a number of different factors contributing to it. Simply put, global warming is caused by both Natural Weather Cycles and Greenhouse Gases caused by humans. Then there is Global Warming's evil twin; Ocean Acidification, but that's a whole other blog, next month.
Looking at Weather cycles, the two main forms that affect this hemisphere are El Nino and La Nina.
As this picture illustrates, an El Nino cycle is when warm water from the Pacific Ocean surges East to South America.This leads to high-level winds that can shear the tops off hurricanes. A La Nina cycle is when that warm water pool shrinks and retreats to the Western Pacific. At this time heat and water coming off the warm water create such powerful thunderstorms that they influence the jet streams that run across the middle latitudes. Hurricanes in the Atlantic are a greater threat in this scenario.
From a Canadian point of view, here's a cute comic that easily explains the effects of the cycles on Canadian weather:
Evidence of Global Warming has been mounting up for years now. Thousands of weather gathering stations spanning the globe from satellites, ships, buoys, deep ocean probes, balloons all the way to the top of Mauna Loa Mountain in Hawaii, show that over the past 4 decades greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are trapping heat that is warming up the land, oceans and air. The average surface temperature world wide has risen nearly one degree Fahrenheit in the the last 40 years.
"Everybody knows that if you turn up the fire on your stove, you evaporate the water in your pot more rapidly," says Jay Gulledge, senior scientist at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a think tank in Arlington, Virginia.
A real wild card in this scenario is the Arctic Ocean. Global Warming has caused it to lose 40 percent of it's sea ice since the 80's. This Arctic warming has altered the Polar Jet Stream. It now moves in a more undulating shifting path moving North-South around the Northern Hemisphere. This is affecting Canada and Europe with this alternating path so as to create extremes in cold to mild winters.
Heat waves have also increased around the world; 19 countries set national records for them in 2010. The flip-side of that situation is extreme rainfall. As moisture in the atmosphere increases, so does the amount of rainfall. So depending on where you live, these extremes will affect you to greater or lesser degrees.
Here is an appropriate quote from Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric research in Boulder, Colorado. "You're getting more rain from a given storm now than you would have 30 or 40 years ago. Picture a baseball player on steroids, This player steps up to the plate and hits a home run. It's impossible to say if he hit that home run because of the steroids, or whether he would have hit it anyway. The drugs just made it more likely. By adding just a little bit more carbon dioxide to the climate, it makes things a little bit warmer and shifts the odds toward these more extreme events. What was once a rare event will become less rare."
On a more practical, and closer to home, keeping these changes in weather patterns in mind, if you live in an older house your exterior walls may not be that well insulated. It might be something to look into as we head into the colder months. I found this informative site that could offer you some great solutions and possibly peace of mind: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/insulation
What was the best part of your week?
Hope you've enjoyed this posting. If you have any questions, any little known facts or interesting Vancouver Stories or pictures you'd like to share, please feel free to contact me.
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