Hot news is bad news

Global temperatures for July 2011 were the seventh hottest since record-keeping began in the 19th century, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported today. The month was the fourth hottest on record for the US, with 41 states experiencing hotter than normal temperatures and two — Texas and Oklahoma — suffering the hottest. If one of the newer presidential candidates imagines that he can pray his way out of climate change, it merits noting that Dallas exceeded 100F for 30 of the 31 days of July.

California was among the seven states west of the Rockies to have normal or cooler-than-normal temperatures. Thanks to unusual Pacific currents, we’ve had a good water year after a decade of largely bad ones. While some heat is forecast, so far our weather has been balmy. Why worry? The best non-scientific answer to that question may be found in this lecture, posted by

Yes, this is what a La Niña looks like

Source: NASA. Click on the image for a NASA explanation of the "Pineapple Express," in which a jet stream carries moisture from near Hawaii over the American Southwest.

KQED’s Climate Watch, David Zetland’s Aguanomics, LA Observed and the LA Times are among the websites and news organizations shaking seeming contradictions from their collective umbrellas. Yes, this is a La Niña year, and yes, these are typically drier than normal. This being a far stronger than normal La Niña, chances were strong that it was going to be far drier than the already dry average across the American Southwest.

The short answer to why we’re having such a wet dry year is that we’ve had a rare incursion of a tropical rain system called “the Pineapple Express.” The longer answer might be that it is an indicator of climate change. We are not the only ones experiencing

‘Let there be shade’

Frances Anderton of the NPR affiliate KCRW today dedicated the first spot of her design show DNA to not so much look but squint at the lack of shade in Los Angeles. Guests included Jane Houlihan of the Environmental Working Group on sunscreens, Emily Green of Chance of Rain (also known as me) on the need for trees in schools and streets, urban planner James Rojas of Gallery 727 on how shade could redefine transport and architect Lorcan O’Herlihy on shade for bus stops. Quite aside from the rank puffery of pointing out my own appearance, it’s a smart visit to an important issue. To listen, click here.

Goodbye rain, hello JPL

NASA's Earth Observatory captured this image of a large storm over the California coast on January 20th, 2010. This Friday and Saturday, March 26-27, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge will be hosting two Climate Days in which scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will explain to classes and members of the general public the effect of greenhouse gases and clouds on climate, the difference between weather and climate, the role of the ocean in global warming and how scientists study Earth's climate from space. Attendees may participate in hands-on activities, view exhibits, demonstrations, student presentations, play Climate Jeopardy and other games, and get information on careers and resources for teachers and community members. Click on the Pacific storm for more information.

The meteorologist/blogger Bad Mom, Good Mom recently copied me in on a query to Jet Propulsion Laboratory oceanographer Bill Patzert: “It

“Abnormally dry”

A mild El Nino winter has meant abnormally dry conditions in the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii and the Rockies feeding the Colorado River, a key water supply source for seven western states, including southern California. Click on the map for NOAA's seasonal drought assessment.

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