Wednesday 14 July 2021

Unliveable! Record-breaking drought, heatwaves, wildfires, melting permafrost, and plagues promises to be a worrying summer for the United States! What is happening to our planet's weather recently is astonishing but hey, it's summer!

Death Valley, credit Wikipedia

Many people who read my posts covering increasing heat on our planet often leave unhelpful comments such as, "well it's summer," or, "it's supposed to be hot!" These people, of course, are very funny if not observant, however, they often miss the word, "record," or the phrase, "hottest ever." What is happening to our planet's weather recently is astonishing.

California's Death Valley is known to be a hot place, I get that, but it hit 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius) Friday for only the fifth time in recorded history, that's only five days out of more than 40,000 days on record. The record for the number of consecutive days at 125 degrees or higher is 10, set in 1913 (June 28-July 5). This year, Death Valley hit 126 on July 7 and will likely continue that stretch of days with 125-plus temperatures through Tuesday. This would be eight straight days, which would be the second-longest streak in recorded history (tying eight days in 2013). 

On Sunday, Death Valley suffered the highest daily average temperature ever recorded on our planet with a temperature of 118 F, or 48 deg C. The temperature at dawn Sunday 12th of July 2021 was a whopping 108 deg F, 102 deg C and the mercury rose to a blazing 128.6 deg F, 53.6 deg C in the afternoon. Well, it's summer," I hear you thinking and Death Valley is the hottest place on the planet, and of course you would be correct.

But that is not the whole story, a punishing heatwave that is entering its second week across California and southern Nevada have often seen temperatures threaten the highest maximum temperature recorded on the planet: 134 degrees F, almost 57 deg C set July 10, 1913.

We are in early summer but the west coast of the US is already suffering its second killer heatwave which has cost the lives of hundreds of people from Canada down to Southern California. 

Now an army of firefighters is working round the clock as wildfires have exploded in ten States which will of course cost more lives and there is a caveat to all this too. Airport officials are concerned they will have to turn away planes and helicopters that drop fire retardants during what is expected to be a record-busting fire season because of a shortfall of fuel brought on by the covid pandemic.

The crazy season was up and running very early this summer ladies and gentlemen. After one of the coldest May's on record on both sides of the pond, the heatwaves and wildfires bit back. Massive wildfires were burning in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Utah, and Montana in June. The last three summers have seen record-breaking wildfire seasons in the US with each season beginning earlier and ending later.

Lake Mead the lifeline for nearly 30 million Americans and millions of acres of farmland once held trillions of tons of water and was the foundation of growth for the modern West, however, Lake Mead is now unrecognizable after years of devastating drought due to the record temperatures and years of low snowpacks in the winter months has brought the lake to a critical low. If the drought carries on California will have a huge water problem by next year.

Computer models can't keep up!

Shocked climate scientists are wondering how even worst-case scenarios failed to predict such furnace-like conditions so far north when an incredible, record-breaking heatwave hit Canada and the northwest US even before summer had officially arrived earlier this year. Johan Rockström, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said the recent extreme weather anomalies were not represented in global computer models.

In Lytton, southwestern Canada, it felt as if the weather itself had stagnated. Trapped in a vast heat dome that enveloped western Canada and the north-western US, temperatures had nowhere to go but up. In Lytton, the Canadian national heat record was broken on Monday, smashed on Tuesday, and then obliterated on Wednesday the 30th of June when the local monitoring station registered 49.6C (121F). "Well, it is summer!"

June 2021 has just been announced as the hottest ever in the U.S. by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Tropical Storm Elsa was announced as the earliest 5th named storm in the Atlantic season ever, (typically the 5th named storm of a season usually arrives at about the end of August) the nation has been hit with a more than 30 billion-dollar disaster bill for 2021 in just over six-months.

In Alaska, thawing permafrost threatens to undermine the supports holding up an elevated section of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, jeopardizing the structural integrity of one of the world’s largest oil pipelines and raising the potential of an oil spill in a delicate and remote landscape where it would be extremely difficult to clean up. The slope of permafrost where an 810-foot section of pipeline is secured has started to shift as it thaws, causing several of the braces holding up the pipeline to tilt and bend, according to an analysis by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

The punishing drought in the U.S. West is not only drying up waterways, sparking wildfires, and leaving farmers scrambling for water. A plague of voracious grasshoppers of Biblical proportions has emerged. Federal agriculture officials are launching what could become their largest grasshopper-killing campaign since the 1980s amid an outbreak of the drought-loving insects that cattle ranchers fear will strip bare public and private rangelands. In central Montana’s Phillips County, more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the nearest town, Frank Wiederrick said large numbers of grasshoppers started showing up on prairie surrounding his ranch in recent days. Already they’re beginning to denude trees around his house. “They’re everywhere,” Wiederrick said. “Drought and grasshoppers go together and they are cleaning us out.” Grasshoppers thrive in warm, dry weather, and populations already were up last year, setting the stage for an even bigger outbreak in 2021.

Left unaddressed, federal officials said the agricultural damage from grasshoppers could become so severe it could drive up beef and crop prices. The program’s scale has alarmed environmentalists who say widespread spraying will kill numerous insects, including spiders and other grasshopper predators as well as struggling species such as monarch butterflies.

They’re also concerned the pesticides could ruin organic farms adjacent to spray zones. “We’re talking about natural areas being sprayed, this is not cropland,” said Sharon Selvaggio, a former U.S. Fish, and Wildlife Service biologist now with the Xerces Society, a conservation group focused on insects. Government officials say they will spray pesticides in low concentrations and reduce the area treated by alternately spraying a strip of rangeland, then skipping the next strip.

Across the country into Florida and another plague is killing record-amounts of marine wildlife. It is an extremely dire situation and is deliberately being under-reported. The Florida red tide plague is still killing marine wildlife and destroying the vulnerable ecosystem around the massive panhandle. The actual problem is a spiral caused by human pollution and warming temperatures which causes the algae, the algae kill the fish which causes more algae which of course kills more fish. This never-ending cycle began in 2016 and has never gone away and has created, "dead-zones," in and around Florida's coastline and the Gulf Of Mexico leaving many experts wondering if the waters will ever recover.


In Finland, a heatwave combined with a shortage of nurses is causing long queues throughout units of Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS). Emergency units are currently severely understaffed in proportion to the number of arriving patients. Significant queues have formed at emergency clinics, with some people waiting for days to see a doctor as doctors and nurses are stretched to the limit because of the heatwave. People with chronic conditions, the elderly, and young children have been particularly affected by the persistent heatwave. Finland has faced a nursing shortage since the spring. All patients coming into the ER now—no matter how minor the issue—are straining an already overburdened system. 

In Bulgaria, a heatwave continues on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon this week the thermometer is expected to hit 40 deg C, 104 deg F degrees over many parts of the country.

In Spain, a heatwave has enveloped much of the country last weekend, driving temperatures to extreme levels and sending locals and tourists scurrying for shade and cooling waters. National weather office AEMET issued heat warnings for most of the country, with the thermometer forecasted to rise above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Spain's first bout from the extreme heat of the year is forecast to spread east on Monday. Only a sliver of Spain's northern Atlantic coast will be spared. Temperatures rose to 44 Celsius, 111 deg F Sunday in Murcia, in southeastern Spain, according to the Spanish meteorological bureau. Spain's highest temperature on record is 49C.

While all these weather events are going on, let us just spare a thought for the billions of animals who won't make it this year.


Anonymous said...

I'm also disgusted at the "it's summer" type of comments.
Another classic is "the planet has experienced these temperatures before", which is true, but what has never happened before is the speed at which these changes are happening, leaving the species with no time to adapt to the new conditions.

Sultanbev said...

Aye, indeed, the planet has experienced these temperatures before. Then the seas were 80' higher and climate instability meant we didn't grow crops on scale.

This recent (Dec 2019) science paper discusses the differences quite well:

Chapter 6 is the one to focus on, including the box "Will we be too stupid to be hunter-gatherers?" {the answer is yes}
but the line at the end of chapter 6.2 is great:
"There will be some wildlife slaughter in the period of the contraction - there is a massive amount of guns on the planet - but the limiting factor will be ammunition which will run out quickly. Most of it will be used on other humans if history is any guide." :)

Of course, the paper ignores the melting down of 450 nuclear reactors as the energy supply to keep them cool becomes intermittent, so it is still in the hopium category, but worthy of a read I think.

Hawkeye said...

Siberian Times dot com, July 13, 2021....
"Permafrost is ablaze with hundreds of wildfires in the world's coldest region".

Look it up please and note the reporter tells in the first few paragraph's: Technology used to make artificial rain to help exhausted firefighters put out fires and get in to hard to reach terrain.
" here, as in other areas of Yakutia, artificial rain was triggered by an Antonov-26 CLOUD SPIKING PLANE."
"Clouds are laced with a CHEMICAL COCKTAIL of WEATHER CHANGING silver iodide, liquid nitrogen, and dry ice."

Hello geoengineering to save the burning arctic! Using the cause to cure. Do you believe it yet?