A Heat Wave in February and Climate Change


Courtesy NOOA and NASA

Feb 24, 2016 (San Diego) Perhaps you have noticed that we are having summer like weather in February. Or that we have had a pretty persist high that has kept this from being a very wet winter, as El Nino would have predicted. Well, a single event is weather, but a serious of them start to give us a pattern.

Watching the news casts and how the weather people tell us, enjoy the warm weather can be at times maddening. Why? These three words: GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE.

It is maddening because we are indeed seeing statistics that tell us that the world had the hottest year in 2015, (again.) We also have seen the hottest January on record (again). I am going to go on a limb and guess that February will also be the honest month on record, (again.)

More worrisome, remember the star fish die out? Yes the one that some people thought was due to Fukushima? Well, now scientists are blaming it on a warming ocean. The Seattle Times reports:

“We were able to show warmer temperatures were related with the higher risk of disease,” said Drew Harvell, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University and a co-author of the study, along with Fradkin and others. “We suspected there was a temperature link, but we really needed to look at the field data to pull that out, and we were able to back that up with lab experiments that found that in warmer temperatures, they died faster.”

We have seen other species getting stressed, and the conveyor belt in the Atlantic might be in trouble. According to Carbon Brief, the conveyor belt has slowed down in the last ten years.

“From 2004-2012, the AMOC weakened by around 0.5 Sverdrups a year – that means each year, the conveyor belt transported half a million cubic metres less water every second. That’s a ten times bigger change per year than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC) predicted.”

These are two markers that have been predicted by the science. Starfish don’t do well in hotter temperatures, and if the conveyor belt stops, it will have disastrous effects to weather in north America and Europe.

In 2010 the slowdown was upwards of 30 percent that translated to a 12 cm, nearly 5 inches of ocean rise in New York City. This was but one surprise.

So while we might enjoy our summer like weather, it is time that this becomes part of the story. It is not just about nice weather in February, but the fact that we are starting to see heat waves at atypical times. We are also going to see more fires and the drought is far from over.

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