KOMU.com https://www.komu.com/ KOMU.com Climate Science Climate Science 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 Science 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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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 Science 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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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 Science 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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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 Science 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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