Weather

Surviving typhoons will require smart building – and a cultural shift

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 11, 2013   View Article

As the devastation from Typhoon Haiyan becomes clear, a question lurks on the horizon: How can the world’s most vulnerable communities prepare for increased storminess on a warming planet? Answers range from using nature to weaken surging walls of water to building homes that can withstand buffeting winds. All will require a shift in priorities, experts say.

“The science is very clear about the trends in climate change, and one of the impacts is definitely more intense and potentially more frequent storms,” Imen Meliane, director of the international marine program at The Nature Conservancy in Washington, told NBC News. To prepare for this stormier world, the environmental group advocates increasing the natural protections of coastlines.

Weather pattern could provide early warning for catastrophic U.S. heat waves

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 27, 2013   View Article

The emergence of a newly identified atmospheric pattern is likely to provide two to three weeks advance warning that a stifling and potentially deadly heat wave will hit the U.S., according to a new study. Since current forecasts go out no more than 10 days, the additional notice could give homeowners, farmers, electric companies and hospitals critical time to prepare for severe heat.

The precursor is a so-called “wavenumber 5″ pattern, a sequence of alternating high and low pressure systems — five each — that ring the northern mid-latitudes several miles above the Earth’s surface, according the research published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Warming planet could spawn bigger, badder thunderstorms

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 23, 2013   View Article

As the Earth continues to warm during this century, atmospheric conditions ripe for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes will increase in the U.S., according to a new study.

Given the amount of damage caused by the straight-line winds, golf-ball-sized hail or flash floods associated with any given severe thunderstorm, understanding whether they will increase in frequency or intensity on a warming planet is a key question in climate science.

Colorado floods triggered by convergence of geography and climate, experts say

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 17, 2013   View Article

The torrent of water that gushed over and down the Rocky Mountains late last week resulted from a fateful confluence of geography and weather. While the deluge is unprecedented in the historic record, it may offer a window onto the new normal as the planet continues to warm.

The exact role of global climate change in the deluge is uncertain, but it certainly played a part, according to climate, weather and policy experts.

As of Tuesday, more than 17 inches of rain had fallen since Sept. 12 in Boulder, Colo. The soaking, described as “biblical” by the National Weather Service, left at least eight people dead with hundreds more still missing and rendered untold millions of dollars in property damage.

Australia’s sponge effect caused global sea levels to drop, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 19, 2013   View Article

A serendipitous convergence of weather patterns funneled so much water over Australia that normally rising global sea levels actually fell in 2011, according to a new study.

In other words, the rain in Australia stays mainly … out of the ocean.

Unlike other land masses, the soils and topography of Australia are such that the continent acts like a giant sponge, preventing most of the rainfall it receives from quickly running off into the sea.

Extreme heat waves to quadruple by 2040, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 14, 2013   View Article

The type of heat waves that wilt crops, torch forests — and kill people — are expected to become more frequent and severe over the next 30 years regardless of whether humans curb emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, according to a new study.

These are heat waves akin to those that baked many regions of the U.S. in 2012 and devastated crops in Russia in 2010. Such bouts of extreme heat are so-called “three-sigma events,” meaning they are three standard deviations warmer than the normal climate of a specific region for weeks in a row. In the Russia event, for example, July temperatures in Moscow were about 12 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal.

World ‘off-track’ in effort to limit warming, report says

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 10, 2013   View Article

Global emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide notched up 1.4 percent to 31.6 gigatonnes in 2012, a move in the opposite direction of an international climate goal to limit global warming, the International Energy Agency said in a report released Monday.

Instead of limiting warming to a long-term rise of no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), the report said the world is currently on a path toward a rise of as much as 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5.3 degree Celsius) above pre-industrial levels.

Such a rise would come “with potentially disastrous implications in terms of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and the huge economic and social costs that these can bring,” Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said at the report’s launch.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach