Cheer up. We may die

“The globe experienced its eighth warmest October since record keeping began in 1880,” reported the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today. “Arctic sea ice extent was the second smallest extent on record for October at 23.5 percent below average. Additionally, La Niña conditions strengthened during October 2011. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, La Niña is expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter.” To keep reading, click here.

For those of you who missed Bettina Boxall’s characteristically vivid reporting for the Los Angeles Times on the seldom noted dark twin of Southern California water consumption — the vast energy suck required to pump water here from the Colorado River and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta — click here.

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

Climate change is real

Source: NASA. Click on the graphic to be taken to NASA's page outlining key climate change indicators.

It’s a rare letter whose content runs a page and a half and whose signatures take up four and a half more. But that is the scale of consensus about climate change from 255 of the country’s leading scientists, including 11 Nobel laureates, who in today’s Science magazine once again try to drive home the message that Climate Change is Real. To get through to the likes of George Will, they keep it simple:

(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.

(ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

(iii) Natural causes always play a

Hot and cold: Summer 2009

CLICK on the maps to enlarge these graphic wrap-ups of summer 2009 from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Or click here to be taken to the NOAA Satellite and Information Service.

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