Global warming shrank my chocolate egg


The most alarming of climate alarmists are predicting one or more Black Swan events in the near future. The term refers to major catastrophes, collapses and cataclysms that have occurred infrequently throughout human and geologic history. “Black swan” carries the connotation that the event was foreseeable and perhaps preventable. The Covid pandemic, the 1929 stock crash and the Fukushima nuclear meltdown were black swans of the recent past; the impending breakdown of the AMOC is a probable future example.  

Black swan climate events have occurred cyclically in the past, causing extremely rapid changes in global conditions, sometimes within a human lifetime. The Anthropocene climate upheaval of the present will most likely bring a series of black swan events, but with a twist:  this is the first radical planetary change wrought almost entirely by human activity. Generally, a meteorite strike or mega volcano eruption has been involved.

Less radical long time climate prophets such as myself think (or hope) that the worst to come will be preceded by something less dramatic, at least for the near future. What I foresee is a series of Gray Swan events: non-cataclysmic scenarios that will cause serious but not lethal disruption of smug “first world” life styles. A slow decline consisting of a parade accelerating inconveniences. Less and less stuff. Even a shortage of Mylar party balloons. Even after Alaric’s unfortunate visit in 476 CE, it took a long time for Rome to fully collapse.

A grey swan occurrence could be a killer storm, a hide tide and high seas disaster that takes out the luxury condos of a coastal vacation infrastructure (such as those already taking place more and more frequently). Typically, the sparkling beach sand will be replaced at great cost and new resorts will be rise again. In spite of the huge property loss, these events fit comfortably in a gray swan scenario (depending on whose money is involved) until the losses become too great. But beware: gray swan morphs to black swan when the insurance companies pull out for good (a development that already happening).

For most participants in Western Civilization, crop failure-driven food shortages are the looming gray swans of today. In real time, for example, climate change is costing Vietnam’s rice bowl $3 billion a year in failed harvests; you are unlikely to be aware of these far away developments because you are not currently affected. It will be when multiple rice producing regions fail at the same time that global prices will go up. For now, only the Vietnamese farmers are screwed. Similarly, products  grown in climate challenged places such as Pakistan, Sudan, Chad, Honduras and the Sahel etc. only affect the locals for now.

And while many choose to make inflation a political problem, Europe’s 2023 heat wave affected soy, maize and sunflower harvests, ultimately triggering up to a full percentage point of US inflation.  Closer to home, when the Ogallala aquifer taps out under the Great Plains, then you are going to see some serious ag issues.

As climate change accelerates, global disruptions will eclipse the Covid pandemic.

To a large degree, the leading edge of this inevitability will be shortages of luxury goods, followed eventually by their absence. Ironically, it has long been my belief that these inconveniences will be nearly as convincing to climate fence-sitters as watching someone else’s coastal home washing out to sea. 

MOMMY MOMMY, MY CHOCOLATE BUNNY IS ALL SHRUNK

(That’s OK honey, we’ll buy you two)

To these evolving shortages we can add sustained pressure on cocoa prices, driven by a combination of ongoing drought, extreme weather and evil corporate behavior in West Africa.  Bad yields have tripled the price of chocolate to $10,000 a ton (although the monopolistic system assures that farmers lose out). If the hedge funds who have already bet billions are correct, the situation will continue to worsen over the foreseeable future (as reported by the Financial Times).

Last week, the cocoa crisis was manifested in the price of chocolate Easter products- from high-end Cadbury eggs to more pedestrian Hershey rabbits – following a 13% increase in the overall price of chocolate candy over the past year. Before that you may have noticed candy bars becoming incrementally smaller or thinner or offering less chocolate content in other ways (the candy equivalent of a short pour). (Shrinkflation is the proper economic term) The yearslong shrinkage of the Cadbury cream egg has become a minor scandal, not spoken of in polite society.

Fine wine is just one example: more frequent extended droughts, unpredictable water cycles and violent storms are already impacting traditional wine making regions as higher temperatures shift harvest schedules, while pests and diseases migrate to new domains. Over the past few years we have also seen major spikes in the prices of beef, citrus fruit and sugar. Extremely rapid warming in the Gulf of Maine is driving lobsters north toward cooler waters an ominous development for seafood lovers.

These increases are all caused to some degree by the impact of global heating.

You will see major pressures on coffee as rising temperatures reduce growing areas by up to 50% in the next decade. Similarly, 90% of marine and fresh water stocks are endangered in one way or another by a combination of changing ocean temperature and over-fishing. Ocean species continue to move north in search of cooler waters, but North only goes so far north until you run out of planet.

I could go on.

Although there are those who would love to blame Biden (because he loves raising prices in an election year, just for fun) these increases are caused to some degree by the impact of climate. You will see major pressures on coffee as rising temperatures reduce growing areas by up to 50% in the next decade.  Similarly, 90% of marine and fresh water stocks are endangered in one way one way or another by a combination of changing ocean temperature and over-fishing.  Ocean species continue to move north in search of cooler waters, but North only goes so far north until you run out of planet..

 

SIMULTANIOUS CLIMATE SHOCKS OF THE CHART DISCLAIMER THING:

Here I insert the standard disclaimer: None of these conditions and events in isolation would prove global warming, but the fact that they are taking place simultaneously at unprecedented speeds and scale is impossible to dismiss.

As you consider that 2023 set another global record for warmest year in roughly a hundred thousands of years, as ocean temperatures run off the charts, as the North Atlantic is bathtub-warm months before hurricane season, as the fires of Canada’s disastrous 2023 conflagration continue burning underground, as CO2 levels crash through 425 ppm, as methane increases 15+ ppm yearly, as part of Australia bakes and the other half drowns, as rivers in the Arctic turn orange from toxin newly released from permafrost, as Spain and Italy endure relentless drought and historic water crises, as global river shipping is in jeopardized, as Antarctic sea ice undergoes an “abrupt critical transition” to another summer low extent, as a million acres and thousands of cattle are torched in the Texas Panhandle, as Greenland actually turns green with new vegetation, as large swaths of South America see catastrophic wildfires, as the Amazon is on the brink of no return, as glaciers in every mountain range melt away, as species of every kind migrate toward the poles….it’s hard not to see an alarming pattern. The variations from both long term and short term cycles is statistically stunning.


* Ground speed means the planes exceeded 761 MPH in terms of distance traveled.

 

NOW! For the first time global warming lets you break the sound barrier at no extra charge.

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve noted several articles about extreme clear air turbulence (CAT) bouncing commercial jets around in mid-flight. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, several recent cases have involved abrupt drops of as many as 18,000 feet (that would be 3 miles). There have been injuries to flight attendants and passengers, some serious. There are also economic costs associated with these incidents, including long term airframe stress and even actual physical damage.
Clear air turbulence is not new to airline travel, but the significant increase in intensity and frequency over the past decades is. Not surprisingly, the phenomenon is scientifically attributed to disruption of high elevation wind patterns by the relentless warming associated with climate change. More specifically, the rough ride is caused by elevated wind shear — sudden changes in wind speed and direction — at altitudes above 15,000 feet. According to University of Reading’s Professor of Atmospheric Science Paul Williams, jet stream severe turbulence has increased by 15% since satellite measurement began in 1979. The most significant increases in wind shear were severe at +55% and moderate at +37%.
This trend was extensively documented again in a report by the Advanced Earth and Space Sciences, published last year. The report concluded that the uptick in wind shear was consistent with expectations of climate change.
This week we have a new story reporting a variation on that theme that would seem to focus on a related facet of air turbulence: In late February, commercial flights over the North Atlantic were pushed to speeds hundreds of MPH faster than normal, in some cases exceeding the speed of sound* in terms of ground speed. Upper atmosphere winds reached 265 mph, providing a powerful tailwind that scooted flights on their way for “better than on time performance.”
The US National Weather Service reported a Virgin Atlantic flight from Washington to London that was thrust to nearly 800mph. (Typical commercial planes average around 600 mph.)
These aberrant events are likewise attributed to massive changes wrought in every area of the planet by catastrophic global warming. In addition to increasing air temperatures, the changes in Jet Stream behavior is exacerbated by rapid melting of Arctic sea ice. The unpredictability of planetary wind patterns accounts for the stark increase all manner of extreme weather behavior, including violent weather events, droughts and wildfires.
As you consider that 2023 set another global record for warmest year in roughly a hundred thousands of years, as ocean temperatures run off the charts, as the North Atlantic is bathtub-warm months before hurricane season, as the fires of Canada’s disastrous 2023 conflagration continue burning underground, as CO2 levels crash through 425 ppm, as methane increases 15+ ppm yearly, as part of Australia bakes and the other half drowns, as rivers in the Arctic turn orange from toxin newly released from permafrost, as Spain and Italy endure relentless drought and historic water crises, as global river shipping is in jeopardized, as Antarctic sea ice undergoes an “abrupt critical transition” to another summer low extent, as a million acres and thousands of cattle are torched in the Texas Panhandle, as Greenland actually turns green with new vegetation, as large swaths of South America see catastrophic wildfires, as the Amazon is on the brink of no return, as glaciers in every mountain range melt away, as species of every kind migrate toward the poles….it’s hard not to see an alarming pattern. The variations from both long term and short term cycles is statistically stunning.
Although Forbes and other respected media have reported the turbulence and jet acceleration events, the news didn’t go much further. You didn’t see it reported on cable, with the exception of FOX, which denied it. While passengers and even crew have commented after a particularly harrowing event, the plane companies are mostly mum as they concentrate on tightening all the bolts on their products. However, it is telling that the NTSB issued new rules for flight safety after several 2023 incidents.
For all you denialist optimists out there who think there are benefits to global warming (“Hell I wouldn’t mind a milder winter.”) the good news is you may sometimes be able to get to Paris from Tulsa faster with an extra 265 tail wind.
The bad news is that getting back might be a real  bitch.

 

 

“The alarming thing is how far our human reach is, in a big way.”
– Roman Dial, Prof. Biology, Alaska Pacific University.

Scientists at this point are indicating that the minerals are leaching out of rock that has been newly exposed to water and suddenly active bacteria in defrosting wetlands are also releasing iron, manganese and other elements.

Although we expect this phenomenon to worsen rapidly, it has already negatively affected the indigenous way of life. The increased quantities of dissolved minerals and salts in the waters of the Wulik and Kobuk rivers to increase, threatening the drinking water supply for native communities. The affects are seen in fish and wildlife, with key staple fish species are reported deformed in increasing numbers.

There is a certain amount of low grade irony in the fact that many the most powerful effects of global heating are taking place in the relative cold of the Arctic. Not only is this region warming three time faster than the rest of the planet, but visual evidence of ecosphere collapse in the far North tends to takes more exotic and dramatic form than in the lower latitudes: Exploding craters, flammable lakes, crashing glaciers. But comparatively few humans live in the Arctic and therefore miss all the powerful evidence of the broken climate on display.

It will only be when extreme weather events and the serious disruptions to the food supply affect their own lives that people will truly understand.

 

Gates of Hell methane blowout crater in Turkmenistan continues to burn

As ice melts on the lakes for the first time in thousands of years, newly released methane bubbles up from the deposits below. which can sometimes be lit.

Batagaika Crater in Siberia is a half mile deep

New methane craters continue to blast out of the Siberian tundra.

One of the first and still the largest emerged in Turkmenistan 1971 with some help from a drilling rig and continues to burn today. The so called “Gates of Hell” (also known as the Darvaza gas crater) is about 200 ft. in diameter and 100 ft. deep. Since then, dozens of new craters have emerged without the help of humans, with blasts that can be heard 60 miles away. This anthropomorphic phenomenon is a direct result of global warming, linked to the thawing of permafrost triggered by runaway warming in the Arctic.

Methane (CH4) has been trapped beneath Arctic permafrost for many thousands of years. Now the frozen land cap is thawing across the Arctic regions, releasing massive quantities of the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. As the permafrost thins and weakens on the surface, it is also heated from below by gas deposits.

Although it dissipates after 12 years, methane (renamed by the fossil boys “natural gas” to make it sound more friendly) is far more powerful than CO2*. It also explodes. At this point, science doesn’t know for certain how much of the gas is down there, but spewing additional megatons of CH4 into the atmosphere can’t be good.

The Clathrate Menace Beneath the Sea
And below the surface of the Arctic seas lurks another ominous peril, with a name out of a Phillip K. Dick horror fantasy. Composed of methane frozen within a crystal of water, methane clathrate (CH4·5.75H2O) or “fire ice” is found in the deepest sediments of the ocean. As the seafloor temperature increases, these reservoirs appear to be destabilizing, releasing methane into the ocean and atmosphere. While this process is not fully understood at this point, evidence is clear that there have been dramatic, rapid climatic consequences in the past. Although unproven, the “methane burp” hypothesis claims an event during the Paleocene epoch raised deep ocean temperatures about 10F.

The Megaslump that ate Siberia
In 2023, Batagaika Crater – the world’s largest permafrost crater – continued to grow in Siberia. Already more than half a mile deep, this monster “mega-slump” is expanding at about 33 ft. a year. This part of Siberia is warming about 2.5 times faster than the rest of the planet is warming, accelerating the land surface thaw.

These non-explosive but more widespread craters are another dramatic manifestation of land subsidence caused by permafrost collapse. This phenomenon was first noted in the 1960s and is becoming more and more common as the climate warms.
Also related (and lots of fun in their own right) are thermokarst lakes: the entertainment value being related to the fact that you can light them on fire. As ice melts on the lakes for the first time in thousands of years, newly released methane bubbles up from the deposits below. The greenhouse gas emissions from these lakes deploys powerful climate effects because of the rapid release of long stored CO2.

Blowing through the albedo feedback loop
Of the many climate feedbacks at work on the planet, the “albedo” effect is one of the most convincing. As snow cover and sea ice area diminish, less solar heat energy is reflected back into space and more is absorbed into the oceans and land, further heating the planetary systems which accelerates thawing of the permafrost.
While most noticeable in Siberia, these phenomena are also taking place in Alaska and Canada.

 

Getting Yelled At By The Petro Sultan


The Host With The Most…To Lose

I don’t know, does anyone else think that there might be some sketchy optics when a major oil producing nation hosts a global climate conference, and the president of the event – head of the state oil company – publicly objects to the term “phaseout” of fossil fuels. The very mention of such a thing caused Cop28 conference president Sultan Al Jaber to insist there is “no science” indicating that a “phase-out” of fossil fuels is necessary. In fact, the petro boss was a little cranky with press members asking such awkward questions of the host. The host of the climate event.

“I accepted to come to this meeting to have a sober and mature conversation. I’m not in any way signing up to any discussion that is alarmist. There is no science out there, or no scenario out there, that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5C,” ranted Al Jaber. ”Stop the pointing of fingers. Stop it!”

Hey, sorry Al! Didn’t mean to offend. Hoping this doesn’t mean I won’t be invited back?

To be quite candid, a lot of people disagree with the Sultan. In fact, the past month saw a couple of successive days in which the magic 1.5C threshold was already breached. 2023 is the hottest month globally for hundreds of thousands of years. Emissions are still climbing, ice melt at both poles is accelerating, droughts are emptying rivers, atmospheric CO2 has soared past 420 ppm for good and extreme weather event insurance losses breached $100 billion annually. The USA is producing more oil and gas than anytime in history.

So then, if the 84,000 attendees of Cop28 weren’t there to phase out fossil fuels, why did they commit all that time and money? Did you guess that the 1,400 oil company lobbyists in attendance were there to promote solar and wind? Nope, sorry, you guessed wrong.

[ FOR ADDITIONAL PERSPECTIVE, THE FIRST WORLD NATIONS COMMITTED FUNDS THAT EQUAL THE COST OF JEFF BEZOS LATEST BOAT. ]

No, the point of this glitzy exercise in lux networking and sustainable partying is to help the distracted, uninterested and overwhelmed public feel as if something meaningful is being done to put the brakes on the runaway climate emergency. In other words, to provide cover for corporate business as usual (even maybe meet some fellow operatives and make a few deals – that oil isn’t going to extract itself).

The strategists who run the global denialist infrastructure have moved past denial (it’s been an ever shifting platform for at least six decades). The new phase is to shape and smooth the narrative to make sure the draconian actions that are now imperative do not happen. Instead, the oil producing entities have most definitely committed more or less to probably take some action pretty soon “as they see fit.” Lots of words, nothing actually binding. And history shows that even those promises will not be kept. There is no enforcement mechanism in the contract that no one will read.

So the way this will work is the way it’s supposed to work: the average citizen will probably peripherally notice that there was a climate summit and they will read the back pat ourselves press releases. They will conclude – because they really want to conclude – that the greatest catastrophe ever to face the species is being taken care of. But it isn’t.

One unprecedented outcome was announced after Cop28: The First World countries agreed for the first time to set aside $550,000,000 for third world companies to “fight” climate change. That’s a lot of zeros. F

For perspective, it’s the price of Jeff Bezos’ latest boat. Maybe Maldives can build some sustainable rafts.

Black Summer 2.0 In Australia?

Most of the rest of the world has forgotten Australia’s summer of 2020, when wildfires driven by apocalyptic winds and 120°F temperatures killed hundreds of people, torched 72,000 square miles and 3 billion animals and cost in the neighborhood of $88 billion. The firestorms moved so fast that fleeing Australians were incinerated in their vehicles trying to escape.

The Red Hot Chile Peppers Song “Black Summer” metaphorically commemorates the event, which was a wakeup call to many in the land down under. Some woke up, some expedited the world’s largest coal mine and 116 new fossil fuel projects.

Now, many wonder if a repeat of the catastrophe is in the near future. On December 8, temperatures at Sidney airport approached 110°F, with 85 bushfires still burning in the state. Jasper, a very early Cat 4 cyclone is churning south toward Queensland, threatening a landfall this week.

Australia has always had crazy climate extremes, but the last decade has moved into a range that can only be called apocalyptic.

These events are unfolding a day after scientists from the EU climate service Copernicus announced 2023 would be the hottest year on record AND as the Cop(Out) 28 joke conference – hosted by one of the planet’s largest oil producers – makes a mockery out of any meaningful effort to mitigate the climate crash.

 

Half a million Somalians displaced by floods

A month of record rains have turned roads to rivers in Mogadishu and other cities, destroying infrastructure and killing hundreds. The fall harvest has been wrecked. This catastrophe follows record drought earlier in the years. Famine will follow.

 

Spain’s avocado harvest threatened by heat

The combination of ever increasing temperatures and drought is killing thousands of avocado trees in one of the world’s major producing countries.

 

Greenland ice shelves that block land ice are down to 5

Greenland’s floating ice platforms — which hold back trillions of tons of ice that could cause sea level rise — are in stark decline, according to a new study.

 

Global shipping is threatened by dropping water levels at the panama canal and major rivers

The Mississippi, Amazon and Rhine have experienced diminished commercial traffic, affecting global shipping for a wide range of products.

 

 

As the Amazon region undergoes eco-collapse, corporate media focuses on the shiny

Last week’s death by heat of a young Brazilian Swiftie concertgoer was breathlessly covered by global media. The record heatwave involved was noted as a component of the story, but typically missed the much much larger story:  the accelerating eco-collapse of Amazonia as Brazil recorded its highest temp of all time (112.6°F) and the nation’s hottest driest winter ever. One more broken record in the hottest planetary year in hundreds of thousands of years.

We are now in mid-spring in the Southern hemisphere and the web of waterways that are the lifeblood of the region are drying up, leaving boats stranded in the muddy river bottoms. Water levels in the mighty Amazon and its tributaries are at never before seen lows as the ocean forces salt water deeper into the delta. If the pattern prevails, the hydroelectric  dams that are the main source of energy in the Amazon region will fail.
The global climate catastrophe is the driving force behind the emergency, but human activity – as always – has pushed the region to the brink. Healthy forests once generated regular rainfall and cooled the region naturally. Those days are gone. The pattern now in effect is a typical climate feedback loop, with higher temperatures triggering more fires which burn more trees which create a warmer climate. The local crisis is a climate disaster within a climate disaster.

“The forest is succumbing,” Climate Observatory executive secretary Marcio Astrini told the Financial Times in November. “It doesn’t happen as a whole or all at once, but in some regions you’re already experiencing these inflection points.” 

With forests already slashed by cattle ranching, mining and illegal logging, new blazes are filling the air with smoke so toxic that school is canceled in Manaus and other cities. Through the bleak landscape wander emaciated cattle, simultaneously cause and victims of the drought and toxic air in the shrinking tropical forest.

The wandering cows are evidence of one of the most dangerous and persistent climate crimes on the planet, as the herds serve to protect the claims of the criminals who introduce them to the land they have cleared by fire. Brazil’s 220 million cows produce a carbon footprint greater than all of the nation of Japan.

Palm trees shrivel and the leaves wrinkle up. Mass dolphin die-offs are photographed and cataloged in 102°F waters as the rains decline to make an appearance. Food and drinking water are already scarce.

 

States of Emergency

With forests already slashed by cattle ranching, mining and illegal logging, new blazes are filling the air with smoke so toxic that school is canceled in Manaus and other cities. Through the bleak landscape wander emaciated cattle, simultaneously cause and victims of the drought and toxic air in the shrinking tropical forest. Palm trees shrivel and the leaves wrinkle up. Mass dolphin die-offs are photographed and cataloged in 102°F waters as the rains decline to make an appearance. Food and drinking water are already scarce.

Seventy-five percent of the states in the Amazonas region have declared a state of emergency, this only two years after the worst flooding catastrophes of all time. The flood drought flood model that characterizes the dawning Anthropocene epoch becomes more extreme with each cycle.

Like Moses’s wives, the name of this deceased Brazilian music fan is not easy to find in the reporting. Ana Clara Benevides Machado’s death is only important to the media in the context of megastar Taylor Swift. Similarly, the fact that her death was a small component in the collapse of the world’s largest rain forest was barely noted…and then they move on to the next shiny thing.

Until we grow up as a species, our prospects for surviving the climate crash will continue to dim.

TAJIKISTAN TOXIC STORMS DRIVEN BY WARMING AND POLLUTION

NOTHING TO SEE HERE…REALLY

 

Health Emergency In Dushanbe

It’s not that sand storms in semi-arid Tajikistan are new, it’s that there are now 10 times as many events as a few decades ago, they are more violent, the season lasts much longer and the fine particles are more deadly to humans. They were rare in the nineties, but now afflict the capital of Dushanbe 30 to 40 times a year.

The most obvious cause is the heat-driven extended drought that is drying out Central Asia. The effects are most dramatically seen in the collapse of the once magnificent Aral Sea to the northwest. The other part of the climate component is that winds are becoming more powerful, lifting more soil into the air and carrying it farther, and making the air borne particles more destructive.

Worse, the airborne particles are also composed of salt and toxins that damage lungs over time. For Tajikistani citizens, the health toll is becoming alarming, as these fine particles infiltrate and destroy lung tissues. In Dushanbe, air quality and visibility has reached the level of an ongoing emergency  

Yet another contributing factor is less obvious: not only do these toxic storms impact agriculture,  they speed alpine glacier melt, which historically provides what little fresh water is available to farmers.  

 

HURRICANE OTIS: THE LATEST EXTREME RAPID INTENSIFICATION

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The hurricane that devastated Acapulco last week is getting little attention as Gaza, Ukraine and “As The Donald Turns” divert the attention span of corporate media. Nevertheless, this particular climate disaster highlights the realities of the new normal in hurricane and cyclone behavior.

The aftermath of this Category 5 monster storm looks much like any of several other recent extreme weather episodes.  The event left hundreds of thousands of Mexicans in the resort city of about 1 million in dire straits, with little hope of any kind of timely relief for the underclasses.  About 250,000 homes were completely destroyed and the final death toll will be in the hundreds. The city was flooded, homes, hotels and businesses were destroyed, vehicles were tossed about and submerge (Don’t worry, the tourist center will be restored ASAP).

Driven by preternaturally warm waters, the 165 MPH winds speeds were second only to the record smashing 200 MPH gales of Hurricane Patricia, which struck further north in western Mexico in 2015. Patricia was the first storm to really grab the attention of climate scientists as it went from about 100 MPH to 200 MPH in a day. Patricia received little coverage because it hit a sparsely populated area, so there were no good photos.

HOW EXPLOSIVE INTENSIFICATION WORKS

(Not your grandfather’s hurricane)

Although this phenomenon began to alarm climate scientists several years ago, Otis took authorities by surprise as it blew up from a tropical storm to a Cat 5 monster in 24 hours. In the nine hours before landfall, Otis’s sustained winds  went from 90 to 165 MPH. This dynamic is known as rapid intensification and it is increasingly common. It is technically defined as escalation in wind speed of 35 MPH in 24 hours; Otis increased roughly three times that fast, ambushing authorities and hindering evacuation.

If you think of hot water as HURRICANE FUEL, it’s easy to understand how globally warming waters are driving the new breed of hurricanes. Warmer water means more energy is available to the storm system. This is true of extreme weather on land as well, as “thunderstorms” cause more and more wind damage and flooding.

The less obvious factor driving intensification is the DEPTH of the warm water in the upper layers of the oceans. “Legacy” hurricanes were self-moderating  in the good old days, because the storm would churn the upper layers as it moved over them, bringing up cooler waters below and causing  a cooling near the surface. This process lowers the overall energy of the storm. With warmer waters extending deeper in many areas of the ocean, this scenario is no longer in effect, and hurricanes explode in power rather than diminish.

Earlier this year, Atlantic Hurricane Lee blew the doors off with a display of rapid intensification that saw its increase wind speed by 85 MPH in 24 hours as it moved through record warm waters.  Luckily Lee moved north into cooler waters before it made landfall. In 2008, the incredibly destructive, 1,000 mile wide Hurricane Ike displayed similar behavior before it hit the Texas coast, killing hundreds and causing billions in damage.

H