Thursday, March 10, 2011

Climate Change Begins Maybe to Come Home

Last evening my wife and I were in the grocery store.  I checked the price of iceberg lettuce.  Fortunately, I had purchased a head a couple days earlier at BJ's for $1.49, which is higher than we usually pay since we tend to wait for specials.  So now I was in Stop and Shop, and the price was $2.49 per head.  Highest price I had ever seen for lettuce, although the heads were pretty good sized and firm.  Then I noticed a sign about ten feet to the right alerting customers to a shortage of certain items due to weather damage, and therefore higher prices.  Not lettuce, but cucumbers, squash, and a few other things.  As I went past the iceberg lettuce, I chatted briefly with another customer, who agreed that the lettuce had gotten rather pricey.  I pointed out the sign to him.  He commented that things were crazy.  I commented that it was going to get crazier.  I was thinking not just about Climate Change but also about warfare and revolution, as well as world demand for oil beginning to pass world supply.

Now today there is an article in the New York Times: I thought it was daring of the author and the New York Times to put this on the front page with the following commentary:  "Changes linked to global warming have contributed to a shortage of the beans used in specialty coffees."  Daring because we who understand Climate Change a little bit are being very careful about ascribing many of these changes to Climate Change.  There are a bunch of unethical people who are manipulating data (meaning "making it up") and arguing that Climate Change does not exist.  So the up side to that is that we avoid controversy and criticism.  The down side is that there are a lot of people who are ignoring the issue of Climate Change, and they need to get with it.

In whatever time I can manage on the side of a busy schedule, I am writing a paper on weather change and Climate Change.  Maybe I will save time by simply publishing the results on my blog.  Based on my initial data analysis, it would appear that the weather impacts have been building a lot longer than many of us had been thinking.  Winter weather in Boston seems to confirm the effect that George Woodwell explained to me one day some years ago:  More carbon in the air means that more solar energy is absorbed in the atmosphere.  More energy in the air means that that energy must go somewhere.  That means more turbulence and storminess.  This would well describe the Boston area weather pattern during the past 4-6 months.  Lots of fronts moving through with a lot more than the usual action associated with each front.  Therefore a lot of precipitation, windiness, and winter thunderstorms. 

This is showing up during warmer weather as well.  Minneapolis used to be outside the tornado belt, but the belt has been expanding since 1950 (!!).  My cousin's child lives north of Minneapolis and refers to that area as "tornado alley."  It used to be that the Minneapolis area got an occasional, or should I say rare, tornado.  I grew up there until I was 18 and went off to college.  There was one tornado in all those years.  Clearly the situation has changed.

Winter thunderstorms are a real anomaly that continued this winter and really concern me.  I do not know anyone who had experienced a winter thunderstorm until recently when I blogged about it.  If there is anyone who experienced a winter thunderstorm out there prior to two years ago, please share about it.  If you have experienced a winter thunderstorm more recently, I also want to hear about that.