A day in the life of climate change

Posted on February 1, 2011

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I went out for a walk down by the river last week.  It was the first sunny day, warm, after many days of rain.  I also suspected, feeling the warmth in the air, that the cherry blossoms might start responding to the spring weather.  And I was right.  Pink blossoms popping out of their buds on January 26th.

When I was young–and I am not that terribly old yet–kids could go skating in the wide ditches of the Fraser delta, and they did.  Things have changed.

You don’t have to look very far or search very long to find examples of climate change everywhere.

Here is what I found just today.

At the Weather Underground website, they are discussing the approach to Queensland of Tropical Cyclone Yasi.  You know Queensland.  According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the September to December period just past has been the wettest in Queensland’s history.

Wettest.  Worst.  Most.  Those are the kinds of words you can expect with climate change.  Extreme words in an extreme climate.

Tropical Cyclone Yasi is expected to reach Category 4 strength (the strength of Hurricane Katrina), bringing wind, storm surge and torrential rains.  Oh yes.  More rain for already flooded Queensland.  According to official sources, Yasi may be the biggest cyclone Queensland has ever faced.

Biggest.  Another one of those words.  Climate change is predicted to make storms worst, and Yasi may be an example.

The Weather Underground also mentions Tropical Cyclone Wilma, which just brushed past New Zealand’s North Island.  Apparently it was the worst cyclone to reach New Zealand in 14 years.

Another storm system discussed on Weather Underground website is a huge snow and ice storm expected to affect up to 100 million people in the US Midwest, dropping snow, creating dangerous ice conditions, and so on.  This upcoming storm—although I am only guessing here—appears to be related the winter weirding that has been affecting North American winters recently.  According to some climatologists, climate change has unbalanced the climate system which used to prevent Arctic air from drifting south in the winter.  Meaning, yes, that global warming could be the cause of more severe winter weather in some places.

But that is because  places like the Arctic are far warmer than usual.

Which brings me closer to home.  This morning I find a story about a Canadian ice camp being abandoned by scientists on the Arctic Sea because the ice it is built upon is threatening to melt beneath them.

When the Arctic Ocean refuses to freeze over in the dead of winter, there is some serious warming going on.

And then there is Egypt.  The people there are demanding a change in government, and some expect that change to take place today.  Why today?  Because yesterday they were hungry.  Hungry people are much less tolerant of tyrants.  Because food prices have gone up ever since the heat wave induced crop failures in Russia and the Ukraine.

The most extreme heat wave in modern history.  Connected to the warming oceans.

It’s climate change.  Expect the extremes.

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Find the Weather Underground blog here:

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/article.html

Find the Canadian ice camp story here:

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2011/01/31/cda-arctic-ice-camp-dangerous.html

Find the report on winter weirding here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_lYbp2zxVg

A discussion of food prices and the events in Tunisia and Egypt can be found here:

http://climateprogress.org/2011/01/30/egyptian-tunisian-riots-food-prices-extreme-weather-and-high-oil-prices/

And here:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=are-high-food-prices-fueling-revolu-2011-02-01