KOMU.com https://www.komu.com/ KOMU.com Climate Climate en-us Copyright 2020, KOMU.com. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Mon, 17 Feb 2020 HH:02:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 KOMU.com https://www.komu.com/ 144 25 Extreme winter weather does not disprove climate change nor global warming https://www.komu.com/news/extreme-winter-weather-does-not-disprove-climate-change-nor-global-warming/ https://www.komu.com/news/extreme-winter-weather-does-not-disprove-climate-change-nor-global-warming/ Climate Tue, 3 Dec 2019 8:25:13 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist Extreme winter weather does not disprove climate change nor global warming

COLUMBIA - Winter weather is often attacked in an attempt to prove climate change and global warming are not real. There is a lot to unpack here, but first we have to talk about the difference between weather and climate. Remember that weather is the atmospheric conditions for a specific date and time. Climate is the average long-term observed conditions.

It’s also important to note that climate change and global warming are not the same thing. Climate change covers many factors, and while global warming is the main factor in our changing climate, it is not the only change happening.

When we talk about the four seasons we experience in Missouri, we can see that all of them are changing, and for winter, it’s getting shorter on average.

But! We still have winter. We will still get cold snaps and snow storms. In fact, one of the main components of climate change is more-extreme weather patterns occurring more often, something we have seen plenty of first-hand right here in Missouri.

For the majority of the United States, 38 states to be exact, winter is the season that is warming fastest. Texas and most of the Rocky Mountain states see their biggest warming in Fall, while the west and northwest see the biggest changes occurring in spring and fall seasons.

For Missouri, our fastest warming period over the past 50 years has been during winter with the least amount of extra warming occurring in the summer.

Looking at the data, we find our winters in central Missouri to be roughly 4-degrees warmer.

So, as you can see, winter is actually a big deal when it comes to climate change. Not because we aren’t supposed to have one, but because it is getting shorter. Meanwhile as it gets shorter, there is a chance that we experience more extreme winter weather more often than in the past. This is in part because we still expect an increase in moisture content in the atmosphere.

One thing we may start getting more of are ice storms. This is because with rising average temperatures, it is more likely that when moisture moves through our area it has a better chance to fall in conjunction with temps closer to freezing instead of colder when it would be snow instead of ice.

Now, some may think that a shorter winter is good, however, a cold, seasonal winter season is important for many different reasons. One of those is for human health. In order to kill off the highest amount of disease-carrying insects such as ticks and mosquitoes, we need consecutive cold winter days.

When we look at the data for Columbia we find nearly ten fewer years with consecutive cold below-average winter days versus 50 years ago. In other words, the cold doesn’t tend to span for a long period of time as often as it used to.

Fruit trees that usually become dormant in winter may not get their full “rest”, and produce a smaller yield as a result. Pollen counts may also be higher which can trigger respiratory illnesses for allergy sufferers. Meanwhile, in colder climates, winter-based recreational activities, like skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling may take a hit as winters experience more rain than snow. And yes, that means billion-dollar industries are being affected by climate change.

While winter may be shorter on average, extreme weather is still expected. You see, as our polar jet stream weakens due to a warmer arctic, it will become wavier instead of more of a straight line west to east. When the jet becomes wavier it will jolt down into the U.S. and bring cold arctic air with it. Some of this arctic air comes from the polar vortex. This can lead to an increase in snow storms and cold snaps. Yet, the cold we feel today may not be as bad as even a generation ago.

When we look at the data we find that the coldest day we experience each year is roughly 12-degrees warmer than it was 50 years ago.

Remember each year isn’t the same. Some years will be colder and some will be warmer while others are wetter or drier. Remember that climate is the long-term trend, not the single year’s weather. And now you have the facts you need in order to explain that just because it’s cold and snowy doesn’t mean climate change and global warming aren’t real. In fact, it might just further prove that it is.

You can watch and read other Show Me Climate stories at komu.com/climate.

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This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.


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Welcome to central Missouri's second coldest start to winter in 129 years https://www.komu.com/news/welcome-to-central-missouri-s-second-coldest-start-to-winter-in-129-years/ https://www.komu.com/news/welcome-to-central-missouri-s-second-coldest-start-to-winter-in-129-years/ Climate Tue, 12 Nov 2019 4:20:15 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist, Zola Crowder, KOMU 8 Reporter Welcome to central Missouri's second coldest start to winter in 129 years

COLUMBIA - Winter started with an early preview in October, but it went full throttle at the start of mid November. Arctic air stretched from Canada to Mexico, breaking records in multiple states. 

One mid-Missouri business, Sparky's Ice Cream, is seeing repercussions from the cold weather. Maggie Garrigihan said, only two customers came in during two hours when the temperature was nearly 10º. 

"Nobody really wants to come out for ice cream when it's 7º out so it doesn't really matter what time it is," she said. 

The Lavaute family chose to spend the coldest November 12th embracing the weather. Alicia Lavaute said, even with the harsh cold, she will not being staying inside all winter. 

"There is no bad weather there is only bad clothes, so it's up to you, you've got to enjoy the weather no matter what it is," Lavaute said. 

TEMPERATURES

Columbia broke a record low on November 12 by reaching 7º, besting the 1911 low of 9º.

This is especially interesting because Columbia has only ever been this cold (single digits), this early in the cold season, twice before. In 1991 the low temperatures got down to 5º and 0º on November 7 & 8th. That makes 7º on November 12, 2019 the second coldest start to a winter season in the past 129 years, because the previous two colder temps both occurred in a single year, 1991. For reference, the average first single digit temp usually hits around December 18th.

The last time Columbia broke a low temperature record was nearly a year to date, on November 10, 2018 when the low was 16º. November 2018 was also the fourth coldest on record.

St. Louis broke record lows on both Nov. 11 & 12, reaching down to 16º and 11º respectively. This makes it the second coldest start to the cold season for St. Louis as the only other colder temp was November 8, 1991 when it got down to 8º.

St. Joseph got down to 6 degrees on the morning of the 12th, 2 degrees colder than the 1989 8º record.

Kirksville came in at a staggering 2º on Nov. 12, crushing the old 11º record from 1969.

SNOWFALL

Columbia recorded 1.1" of snowfall on November 11th, 2019 at the COU airport (where the Columbia weather recording station is) which bested the 1911 record of 0.4".

St. Louis recorded 1.3", just up from 1.0" in 1911.

NOTE: A previous version of this article said it is the third coldest start to winter, but actually because both of the colder temps occurred in 1991, that makes 2019 the second coldest start. 


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October 2019: Third snowiest and sixteenth coldest in Columbia despite record warmth early on https://www.komu.com/news/october-2019-third-snowiest-and-sixteenth-coldest-in-columbia-despite-record-warmth-early-on/ https://www.komu.com/news/october-2019-third-snowiest-and-sixteenth-coldest-in-columbia-despite-record-warmth-early-on/ Climate Mon, 4 Nov 2019 8:59:51 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist October 2019: Third snowiest and sixteenth coldest in Columbia despite record warmth early on

COLUMBIA - Do you remember September 2019? It was the hottest month mid-Missouri has recorded in the past 130 years. That warmth held over into October for a few days. October 1 and 2 both recorded record warmth at night, with the warmest low temperatures on set for both of those dates. The warm stretch wouldn't last long after that, however.

Summer quite literally continued through September into October. Most folks were ready for Fall conditions, tree leaves to change, sweater and jacket weather. Well, all of those things came, but it wasn't quite as many had hoped. It got cold. Fast. We were just telling folks to break out the fall jackets and then had to say, scratch that, dig up the winter coats!

Columbia has just as many seasonally average days in October as it did below average days, thirteen each. While the first frost came on the 11th and 12th of the month, a deep freeze didn't arrive until the last two days of the month when temps dropped into the 20s.

Halloween broke records all on its own. The high temperature only reached 39º, tying 1993 and 1951 as the coldest high temperature on record for that date. Morning snowfall also totaled 0.4", breaking the previous 0.3" daily record from 1912. This would also be the only snowfall of the month.

Thanks to the Halloween morning snowfall, October 2019 is now in the record books as the third snowiest in 130 years, tied with 1954. Only 1925 (0.8") and 1913 (2.9") has had more snowfall on Halloween in Columbia, MO since 1889.

Rainfall was a-plenty, too. In fact, it was the 14th wettest October on record. A total of 5.60" fell, besting the 3.31" average by 2.3". The "wet season" we've been in for over a year now is still going strong. 

Another note on October temperatures, because while 2019 was the 16th coldest, it had more to do with cold high temperatures than low temperatures. The monthly average high temperature was 63.3º, which was 3.8º below the 67.1º monthly climatological average high temperature. The low temps averaged to 43.8º for October 2019, only 1.2º below the 45º monthly climatological average. Therefore, putting it all together, the month as a whole was 2.4º below average.

A NOTE ON EXTREME WEATHER

I find it important to note that our climate isn't only changing in the warm months. In fact, it is almost more important and more evident in the colder months. So, the fact that we just had the 16th coldest October in 130 years of records doesn't disprove climate change nor global warming (which are not the same thing).

Look instead at the fact that we went from the 1st hottest September to the 16th coldest October. We flipped from a summer September to a winter October. We skipped autumn conditions for the most part. It is this type of extreme weather pattern that is becoming more frequent due to climate change. 

Moreover, just last year in 2018 we went from the 1st coldest April on record for the state of Missouri to the 1st hottest May. We went from a winter April to a summer May. We skipped spring completely and in a very extreme way, something the Missouri State Climatologist agrees with undoubtedly. 

If people try to tell you that just because it is cold, or there is snow on the ground, that "global warming was supposed to mean we wouldn't see this anymore, so it's fake"...do not pay any attention. Those are lies from deniers who refuse to see the truth of our changing climate. Also note that I haven't talked at all in this article about it being human-caused climate change. Because honestly, even for those who think it is natural for our climate to be changing faster than ever before in human history, when it comes down to it, regardless of where blame is placed, the climate IS changing. We need to start understanding better what is changing, how rapidly, what those effects are and what they will be. The climate is changing rapidly whether you believe it is human-caused or not. That is an undeniable fact. Let's talk about those changes. 

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This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.


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NOAA says our planet just tied 2015 for the hottest September on record https://www.komu.com/news/noaa-says-our-planet-just-tied-2015-for-the-hottest-september-on-record/ https://www.komu.com/news/noaa-says-our-planet-just-tied-2015-for-the-hottest-september-on-record/ Climate Wed, 16 Oct 2019 9:49:00 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist NOAA says our planet just tied 2015 for the hottest September on record

COLUMBIA - On Wednesday morning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released an update to global land and ocean temperatures for 2019, now including their data from September. Here are some of the main points from NOAA:

  • The September temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.71°F above the 20th century average of 59.0°F (tied with 2015).
  • The 10 warmest Septembers have all occurred since 2005, with the last five years (2015-2019) having the five warmest Septembers on record.
  • September 2019 also marks the 43rd consecutive September and the 417th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average.
  • The year-to-date temperature (Jan-Sep) across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.69°F above the 20th century average of 57.5°F. Only January-September 2016 was warmer (+1.91°F). 
  • The U.S. had its second warmest September on record, but combining the data with the rest of the continent indicates that North America had its warmest September on record.

 

Of course, September 2019 in Columbia, MO tied 1897 as the hottest on record. 

Currently 2019 is battling 2016 for the hottest year on record, with 3 months to go.

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This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.


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Mid-Missouri's hottest September since 1897, explained https://www.komu.com/news/mid-missouri-s-hottest-september-since-1897-explained/ https://www.komu.com/news/mid-missouri-s-hottest-september-since-1897-explained/ Climate Mon, 30 Sep 2019 10:56:14 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist Mid-Missouri's hottest September since 1897, explained

COLUMBIA - The warmest September mid-Missourians will be able to remember just occurred. This is because no one from the 1800s is alive today, and the last time Columbia recorded a September as warm as 2019's was in 1897, a difference of 122 years. However, there are major differences in how both September 1897 and 2019 came to be at the top of the record book.

SEPTEMBER 1897

The month started with three days in the 100s (for actual temperatures, not counting for the heat index). In fact, a total of four days were in the 100s. Still to this day the month holds six high temperature records. There was a cool period that lasted seven days from the 16th to the 22nd when temperatures were either seasonal or below average. During that time, one morning recorded a low of 35º, which still holds the record low for that date. So, you can see, there were large swings in the temperatures throughout the month.

It was a very dry month. A half-inch of rainfall is all that recorded, and that fell over a consecutive 48-hour period in the middle of the month. Every other day was dry.

A reminder that dry conditions will produce large swings in temperatures and can allow temperatures to get both warmer (into the 100s) and cooler (into the 30s in this case) at night.

SEPTEMBER 2019

The only below average day was felt on the first day of the month. The end of August was below average and that carried over into September for one day. Then, everything changed. The remainder of the month experienced above average temperatures with the exception of eight days which were seasonal. While a low temperature was not broken, a highest low temperature was. The last day of the month recorded a low of 69º, which bested the previous 68º highest low from 1971. However, there were zero 100-degree days. In fact, the warmest temperature felt in 2019 as a whole was 95º.

It was a below average month for precipitation with only 2.52" falling over the Columbia weather station, which left the month 1.35" below the 3.87" average. 

The month also saw very little influence from frontal systems. The jet stream, our upper-level winds that tend to steer low-pressure systems our way from the Rocky Mountains, was well north of us. Because of this, nothing was able to stop our continued Summer. Showers every now and then, along with clouds, helped to keep temperatures steadily in the 80s and 90s; playing a role in keeping our low temperatures so warm, too. The steady southerly flow didn't hurt, either.

So, if 1987 had multiple 100-degree days and still holds records and 2019 has zero high temperature records, how are they tied for first place?

LOW TEMPERATURES

The nights over the course of 2019's September were 6.7º warmer than in 1897. Meanwhile, the high temperatures in 2019 were 6.7º cooler than in 1897. Hence, the tie. 

A note on low temperatures: one of the trends we have been seeing prominently in climate has been warmer nights. Since 1970, Columbia's low temperature is, on average, 2.4º warmer.

While summer has held on, Fall weather should finally arrive by the end of the week as the coolest temps since May move into mid-MO. 


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A conversation with the Missouri State Climatologist about climate trends https://www.komu.com/news/a-conversation-with-the-missouri-state-climatologist-about-climate-trends/ https://www.komu.com/news/a-conversation-with-the-missouri-state-climatologist-about-climate-trends/ Climate Thu, 19 Sep 2019 9:02:11 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist A conversation with the Missouri State Climatologist about climate trends

COLUMBIA - During the first week of Show Me Climate we've discussed many of the basics of our changing climate. We started with the difference between weather and climate, moved on to why the climate is changing so rapidly, dug into non-renewable and renewable sources of energy, saw the changes occurring around the world, and looked at data showing how weather is trending in a new direction, too. 

Here, I sit down with the Pat Guinan, the Missouri State Climatologist, for a conversation about the trends we've been seeing right here in the Show-Me State. You can watch the entire conversation above, or the simplified version that aired during a KOMU 8 News broadcast. 

Pat and I chat about the many trends we are seeing in Missouri, from warmer nights, warmer winters, wetter seasons, shorter seasons, longer seasons, agricultural impacts, and much more about the history and climate of Missouri. 

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This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.


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Climate change is also affecting weather trends https://www.komu.com/news/climate-change-is-also-affecting-weather-trends/ https://www.komu.com/news/climate-change-is-also-affecting-weather-trends/ Climate Thu, 19 Sep 2019 5:20:33 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist Climate change is also affecting weather trends
COLUMBIA — In an earlier story we discussed the difference between weather and climate. While they’re not the same thing, a changing climate does change weather patterns.
One thing I have to note before we get into this is that we still cannot link anthropogenic climate change (man-made climate change) directly to each weather system. Just because we have a terrible hurricane does not mean it is due to climate change. When a tornado is ravaging the earth, it cannot be directly linked. However, what we are seeing is more extreme weather. That means we are seeing stronger hurricanes more often. When it rains, it pours…causing more flooding. When it’s dry, it turns into a severe drought more frequently. So, while each singular weather system cannot be linked directly, overall we are experiencing more extreme weather more frequently, with less of the in-between.
As you know by now, the world is warming at an unnaturally rapid pace. Climate has warmed by 2-degrees Fahrenheit since 1880. And eighteen of the 19 warmest years all have occurred since 2001, with the exception of 1998. The year 2016 ranks as the warmest on record.
Each region of the world is changing differently. The good news is, some areas are still below average each year. Can you imagine a world where absolutely nowhere produced a below average annual temp? Talk about out-of-balance.
The central United States has been one of the cooler areas recently, including here in Missouri. There’s a reason for that…and it has to do with rain. When the ground and air are wet, the Sun's energy goes more into the moisture and evaporating that moisture than actually heating the air. So, when the air is drier (think desert-like), the temperature can reach into the 100s. However, when it is a wetter, more moist period, the temperature will stay lower, in the 90s, but the heat index and humidity will be higher, still resulting in dangerous conditions. This can also lead to warmer nights than if the air were dry.
In our warming world, it is important to note that for every 1°F of temperature increase, the atmosphere can hold 4% more moisture, which means there’s more available to fall as rain or snow. While some areas are dealing with an increased frequency in flooding, others have experienced prolonged extreme droughts. California’s 2015 drought cost billions of dollars.
When it comes to the tropics, category 4 and 5 hurricanes have all increased in frequency since the 1980s. In fact, the past 4 years have had five category 5 hurricanes to hit the United States: Matthew (2016), Irma (2017), Maria (2017), Michael (2018), Dorian (2019). Hurricanes have also been trending slower along coasts, stalling, and dumping record amounts of rainfall, and the other impacts that come with a hurricane standing still. New research on the track of hurricanes suggests hurricanes are increasingly stalling over coastal regions and dumping record rainfall because of this. Two recent examples are 2017’s Hurricane Harvey over Texas and Hurricane Florence over the east coast in 2018. I’ll note again this research does not link attribution directly to anthropogenic climate change. Regardless, it is a real trend that coastal regions will need to plan for because the as the climate continues to warm, this trend is expected to continue.
This isn’t only in the Atlantic, either. The past decade has recorded most of the strongest tropical cyclones worldwide.
You have probably noticed, our seasons are changing, too. The first freeze of the year is happening later and the last frost is happening sooner. That means the growing season is longer while winter is getting shorter. And yes, we will still continue to have winter! It is just shorter and warmer. It will still feature winter weather extremes, too. Remember, more moisture in the atmosphere also means more snow.
Overall, the Midwest is expected to deal mainly with extreme heat, drought, heavy downpours and flooding that will affect infrastructure, health, agriculture, forestry, transportation, air and water quality, and more. I’ll be digging into these on future Show Me Climate segments.

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This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.


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The effects of our rapidly changing climate are worldwide, hitting the Arctic the hardest https://www.komu.com/news/the-effects-of-our-rapidly-changing-climate-are-worldwide-hitting-the-arctic-the-hardest/ https://www.komu.com/news/the-effects-of-our-rapidly-changing-climate-are-worldwide-hitting-the-arctic-the-hardest/ Climate Wed, 18 Sep 2019 9:59:20 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist The effects of our rapidly changing climate are worldwide, hitting the Arctic the hardest

Global warming has often been used interchangeably with climate change. Well, they shouldn’t be, because they do not describe the same thing. Global warming is the main component of climate change, however, climate change is so much more than just the warming of our world. Let me break it down for you.

Climate change, in simple terms, is due to an excess of energy trapped in our atmosphere because of greenhouse gases released by human activity. Now, this energy causes many things to happen. One of the main effects is global warming.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, in the 1700s, our world has warmed by roughly 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit, which is around 1.3 degrees Celsius. That means we are getting dangerously close to the 1.5 to 2 degree thresholds that climatologists believe would bring us into a new world of extremes…a mark they say will be reached in the next 10 years if we don’t start cutting greenhouse gas emissions rapidly while also finding ways to take out some of the emissions we’ve put in. I’ll have more on this in future Show Me Climate stories.

Each part of the world warms at different speeds, however, the past 5 years have been the hottest since modern records began, and eighteen of the hottest 19 years have occurred since 2001.

The strongest warming is happening in the Arctic during its cool seasons, and its taking a toll on sea ice. 2019 has wobbled back and forth between the lowest and second lowest extents of sea ice, battling with 2012 for the all-time low record. Think about this: when sunlight hits ice, it is reflected back, but when it hits darker ocean waters because the ice it would usually hit has melted, the ocean water gets warmer leading more sea ice melt…it is a dangerous cycle we are currently on. Other notes: Alaskan waters were ice-free this year earlier than any other year and Greenland lost 12 billion tons of sea ice in just one day this July, the highest single-day total since 1950.

Sea ice melt is also a big contributor to sea level rise. In fact, since 1993 the sea level has risen by roughly 94 millimeters, or 3.7 inches. It rises roughly 3.3 millimeters each year. This is due to declining sea ice, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreat, and decreased snow cover. It can also be attributed to the warming of ocean waters which expands the ocean.

The ocean isn’t only warming, it is also becoming more acidic. The ocean absorbs about a quarter of the CO2 we release into the atmosphere every year. The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the ocean is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year, leading to a 30 percent increase in the ocean’s surface water’s acidity since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Coral reefs are being bleached due to these warmer, more acidic waters. Coral reefs are important because they provide a home to over 4,000 species of fish, which generates hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide every year. Coral reefs are also increasingly used to find cures. Many drugs are now being developed from coral reef animals and plants as possible cures for cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, viruses, and other diseases. They also provide protection from larger waves such as from tropical storms.

Our changing climate has also created more extreme weather. I’ll discuss this in my next Show Me Climate story, Thursday on KOMU 8 News at 6. Then, at 10 I’ll be discussing Missouri’s climate outside your window with our state climatologist.

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This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.


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An overview of renewable energy and their price trends https://www.komu.com/news/an-overview-of-renewable-energy-and-their-price-trends/ https://www.komu.com/news/an-overview-of-renewable-energy-and-their-price-trends/ Climate Tue, 17 Sep 2019 7:12:32 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist An overview of renewable energy and their price trends

We recently discussed fossil fuels. Now, let's get an overview of renewable energy. 

One stat for you, according to NOAA, at least three quarters of the climate change we are experiencing today and will experience is due to an energy system that is reliable on fossil energy.

So, if fossil fuels are non-renewable forms of energy, what is renewable energy?

We have options. The most widely known and used forms of renewable energy are solar and wind. I have no doubt you have seen both solar panels and wind turbines.

Fun fact, most wind turbine wings are 120 feet long and depending on wind speeds they turn at rates between 10 to 20 revolutions per minute. Each rotation of the turbine will create electricity, which is then stored and sent off to be used. In fact, most renewable energy is created by turning turbines.

Hydroelectric energy is also created this way as flowing water turns turbines. Geothermal energy is created when heat from within the earth is used to rotate a turbine.

Nuclear energy does the same, creating immense heat to rotate turbines…however because it uses Uranium to do so, it is technically considered nonrenewable.

Meanwhile, biomass, which is actually a few different things from garbage to wood to plants to landfill gas to alcohol fuels can do a multitude of things from turning turbines to being turned into liquid such as ethanol and biodiesel.

And of course, solar, one of the leading renewable resources, does not spin a turbine, but instead uses heat from the Sun as energy.

Now, there are pros and cons to all energy production because every source of energy will leave a footprint. Sources like solar, wind, and hydro have effects on the environment, but they are mostly local and can be managed. But fossil fuels have a global impact, lasting for centuries, which will destabilize the entire planet if we don't act soon. No other energy source can do that.

That’s a brief overview of renewables; in the coming weeks and months I will be digging into each energy source individually.

You may be wondering, we have plenty of opportunity for renewable recourses…why aren’t we using more of them?

One common thought is they are too expensive. However, this isn’t exactly true anymore.

In just the past 9 years, the cost of generating wind energy has gone down 69% while the cost of generating solar energy has gone down 88%.

In fact, depending on the situation, wind and solar energy can be cheaper to produce than coal…without any of the harmful worldwide effects that will last for generations.

If you are interested in creating renewable energy for your home or business, check with your local providers. The City of Columbia offers rebates and loans, and the Federal Government is offering 30% tax credits until 2020. 

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This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.


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Chief Meteorologist Kenton Gewecke talks climate change with NBC News' Al Roker https://www.komu.com/news/chief-meteorologist-kenton-gewecke-talks-climate-change-with-nbc-news-al-roker/ https://www.komu.com/news/chief-meteorologist-kenton-gewecke-talks-climate-change-with-nbc-news-al-roker/ Climate Tue, 17 Sep 2019 9:55:51 AM Chief Meteorologist Kenton Gewecke talks climate change with NBC News' Al Roker

Al Roker traveled to a remote part of Greenland to understand why the glaciers are melting at such a rapid pace, the role the oceans are playing and what this means for the rest of the world. To get those answers, he met up with scientists by air and sea. He flew with NASA on a first-of-its-kind Oceans Melting Greenland mission and joined NYU scientists on their research vessel where their mission is to understand the climate’s effect on the Greenland coastline and beyond.

KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist Kenton Gewecke sat down with Roker to talk about climate change and its effects, both statewide and worldwide.

You can read and watch Roker's full report here.

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This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.


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Explaining fossil fuels and their timetable https://www.komu.com/news/explaining-fossil-fuels-and-their-timetable/ https://www.komu.com/news/explaining-fossil-fuels-and-their-timetable/ Climate Tue, 17 Sep 2019 12:22:19 AM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist Explaining fossil fuels and their timetable

Carbon dioxide (CO2). You’ve probably heard about it a lot. It’s a fossil fuel, commonly released into the atmosphere by humans from the burning of oil and coal. The top 3 fossil fuels include petroleum (crude oil), coal, and natural gas (which is mostly methane, although it also contains ethane, propane and butane).

Now, these are called fossil fuels because they, well, are from the remains of prehistoric plants and animals. Seriously. We’re talking about carbon remains that, over millions of years, were converted by heat and pressure in the Earth's crust into carbon-containing fuels. While drilling for fossil fuels it isn’t uncommon to drill through actual fossils.

All of this is to say that it took a LOOOOONG time for this energy source to be created. We cannot replace these energy sources as simple as we would plant a new tree after cutting one down. Only if it took that tree millions of years to be big enough to cut back down would that be comparable.

This also means there is a finite amount of this energy that can be extracted from within our Earth. It is estimated that with what we’ve found so far, we have around 132 years left of coal, 51 years left of natural gas, and 50 years left of oil. Remember, these numbers are based on what reserves has been found by the end of 2018, and will change if more is found by energy companies. 

However, while there is an “end” to the amount of energy we can take from within the deep Earth, we must realize that if we were to release ALL of these fossil fuels into the atmosphere…we’d be beyond ourselves. In fact, it is expected that we will have to leave between 65 to 80 percent of current known reserves untouched if we are to even stand a chance of keeping average global temperature rise below our two-degrees Celsius global target.

This means we’d have to actively choose to leave these resources in the Earth, though we may have access to them. Do you think we can do that? Of course, now we are getting into that gray area. Because this isn’t a black and white situation. Fossil fuels are good for the economy. However, that specific economy comes at the cost to our planet and harming and at times killing the life on it. There are pros and there are cons and it is up to you to decide for yourself which you believe is more important. That’s all I’m going to say about that because I’m just here to explain the science.

Regardless, it is clear that we need new sources of energy, and we can’t simply shut off all fossil energy overnight. We need an energy replacement that is renewable, readily available, abundant and doesn’t continue to pollute our atmosphere with chemicals that take hundreds to thousands of years to be mixed out of our air.

We’ll go over these renewable resources on the next Show Me Climate report. 

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This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.


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Exploring different factors causing the worldwide climate to change https://www.komu.com/news/exploring-different-factors-causing-the-worldwide-climate-to-change/ https://www.komu.com/news/exploring-different-factors-causing-the-worldwide-climate-to-change/ Climate Mon, 16 Sep 2019 4:53:56 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist Exploring different factors causing the worldwide climate to change

Previously we've discussed the difference between weather and climate and explained that global temperatures are warming at an unnaturally rapid pace. Next, I want to discuss the why. Because in science there has to be a reason. A cause to the effect.

Let’s look at a few different possibilities.

We begin with our heating source. The source of life and energy to this planet: the Sun. The Sun does go through solar fluctuations and at times it emits higher amounts of infrared radiation, which could warm our world. However, since satellites began recording the Sun’s output in 1978, the solar irradiance has actually gone down slightly. Climatologists say the Sun cannot plausibly account for more than 10 percent of the 20th century’s warming.

Is it due to volcanic activity? The data suggests it is not due to volcanic activity. Human industries emit about 100 times more CO2 than volcanoes, and besides, volcanoes emit other molecules like sulfate that can actually help to cool the atmosphere for a couple years.

What about land use and deforestation? When trees are leveled the Sun will reflect more directly off the Earth’s surface and this can actually lead to more of a cooling effect. Of course, less trees means less oxygen production and less CO2 extraction.

What about more Ozone? Ozone high in the atmosphere will help to block harmful UV Rays but Ozone pollution closer to our surface can trap heat and lead to warmer temperatures near the surface, not to mention harmful air quality for human life. However, Ozone pollution likely plays only a minute role in our rapidly warming world.

What about carbon dioxide and the other greenhouse gases such as methane, water vapor and nitrous oxide? Since pre-industrial times, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have increased by almost 50%, from 208 PPM to 412 PPM in August 2019. We haven’t seen these levels of CO2 for 3.6 million years according to NOAA. Today’s rate of increase is more than 100 times faster than the increase that occurred when the last ice age ended. This is the most important long-lived "forcing" of climate change. And yes, it’s because of us humans.

Moreover, these greenhouse gases don’t just disappear once they’re put into the atmosphere; some of them can stick around for a while. Think of water vapor or droplets, like a cloud for example. Water vapor can actually stay in the atmosphere for about 7 days until it rains down to the surface. So what about carbon dioxide. Well, it can stay in the atmosphere for…wait for it…100 days. Woops, no, I mean 100 months… NOPE. YEARS. Carbon Dioxide can stay in our atmosphere for 100+ years…in fact, some of it may take thousands of years to leave the atmosphere…and we’ve been releasing A LOT of it into our atmosphere for a while now. All of this goes to show that rapid climate chance cannot be stopped overnight. It is going to take some time to calm things do; it won’t happen in most of our lifetimes. But, changes we make today will determine what the world looks like for future generations. We are the ones who decide what the future will look like.

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This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.


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The difference between weather and climate; comparing past warming pace https://www.komu.com/news/the-difference-between-weather-and-climate-comparing-past-warming-pace-102660/ https://www.komu.com/news/the-difference-between-weather-and-climate-comparing-past-warming-pace-102660/ Climate Sun, 15 Sep 2019 8:45:24 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist The difference between weather and climate; comparing past warming pace

To start this climate conversation, we have to begin somewhere. So, let's start with the basics: the difference between weather and climate. It is vital to understand this difference in order to understand our changing climate.

Weather and climate are often used in the same sentences and are too often thought to be interchangeable. The thing is, weather and climate are NOT the same thing.

Weather is what is happening right now, or what the weather was like yesterday, or tomorrow, or on April 10th, 1985 or April 10th 2085. The weather is the atmospheric conditions at a specific time and place.

Climate, on the other hand, is the big picture. It is the overall weather pattern over a long period of time. Often when I talk about the “average” high temperature for this time of year, I am using a 30-year average of high temperatures. Climate is the fact that we often have hot and humid Missouri summers. Weather is a hot day, or a cool day, or a “seasonal” average day. so, The only reason I know it is an “average” weather day is because of climate.

So, let’s think really big. What has the climate been like the past, let’s say, 800,000 years? Because you can bet there have been fluctuations in the climate, including heat waves and ice ages.

From ice cores, tree rings, even coral reefs, scientists are able to see the fluctuations in climate and the atmosphere’s makeup over time. What we can see are peaks and valleys in temperature anomalies.

It is interesting to note that temperatures seem to skyrocket after ice ages, creating most of the fastest warming periods we see in history…over a period of thousands of years of course. In fact, during these post-ice age heating periods the temperature generally rose anywhere from 0.06 to 0.1 degrees Celsius every 100 years.

In just the past 100 years, since the 1918, the global temperature has risen 1.1 degrees Celsius. That means we have been warming between 11 and 18+ times faster than at the end of an ice age; and we don’t see signs of this warming stopping or slowing…yet.

But there has to be a reason for this unnatural, intense and rapid global warming. It can’t just “be happening”. That’s not how our atmosphere works. There is always a reason; a cause to the effect. Read and watch that report next. 

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This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.


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