I see Ray left a comment yesterday about this cool July as compared to recent summers – wondering if there was a link between the drier weather and the colder weather. Actually, the conditions have been drier than normal for the last 7 years and 4 out of the 7 years had above normal summer temps (not just July). 2005 and 2006 were scorching by Wisconsin standards and the heat definitely enhanced the drought. Summer in 2003 was slightly below normal (although August was hot). In 2004 and in 2008 we did not hit 90 which was kind-of odd, however, there were plenty of days with high temps in the 80s in those years. 2004 was well below normal, but last year was only slightly below normal. For this decade, up until November of 2007, most months were above normal. The winters and summers were mostly above normal with a few cool spells. Since November of 2007 we have had more colder-than-normal months. The last 2 winter’s plus the last two summers (including this one) have been below normal. So the gist is that our colder trend has only occurred over the last 20 months or so.
This year, the drier weather can certainly be blamed on the cool weather pattern. We have had a persistent north to northwest wind flow which is keeping any Gulf moisture out of the area. It is also bringing in the cooler air from Canada. This is not always the case. Some years it is colder than precisely because of more clouds and ABOVE normal rainfall (sunny days tend to be warmer).
Speaking of clouds and rain, we will have some off-and-on chances for rain over the next few days. A few scattered showers should develop late this afternoon and evening and continue through the day on Wednesday. Scattered is the key word. It still doesn’t look like many people will get hit with substantial rain. A few spots could pick-up a quarter to half inch, but most will be left wanting more. On Friday and Saturday there could be more widespread and heavier rain in the area. If you have some outdoor plans on either of those days you will want to start preparing and thinking of a plan B. Slight chance of showers or isolated thunderstorms will persist on Thursday, Sunday, and next Monday as well. Hopefully, with all these chances, eventually, everyone will see a little rain.
Speaking of drought, here is an article claiming a 50% chance that all Colorado River Reserviors could go dry by 2050. (on a side note, it is nice to see a “good” title on this article, implying that the reservoirs “could” dry up. Most AGW articles proclaim everything as if it is fact). Of course there is some blame placed on AGW, but I am glad to see someone finally mention that 30 million people are using the Colorado River resource, and that this is the main problem (not AGW). This of course means the best solution is better water management. One sure way to preserve the water is to make it more expensive. Nothing forces people to conserve like high prices. For example, U.S. energy usage declined in 2008(a good thing), primarily due to the high price of oil and gas. I like to see less use of fossil fuels because they pollute. What would be nice is to see solar, nuclear, and geothermal being used in greater proportion in coming years. While less energy use is a good thing for the environment (because it means less pollution when primarily using fossil fuels), it is usually not a good sign for an economy. Energy usage is often a proxy for progress and growth.
I mentioned geothermal energy briefly above and there is some good news on that front. The addition of nano-engieered metal particles could make geothermal energy plants much more efficient. It will be exciting to see if this development gets off the lab bench later this year.
I see Brian beat me to mentioning the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The neat thing is that the current LRO orbiting the moon has snapped some high resolution photos of prior moon landings. Take a look here. No doubt the moon landing conspiracy theorists are claiming the photos are doctored. Brian mentioned the hoax theories in his update yesterday. I am willing to give nearly every conspiracy theory at least a brief hearing, after all, people do conspire to do nefarious things. It is a fact of life. However, in this case, the evidence that there was not a conspiracy is overwhelming and damning. The odds of a hoax are so remote that it doesn’t pay to dwell on it, but if you would like to, there are a few websites dedicated to debunking the moon landing hoax theories. You can find a couple links in this article. Most of the hoax theories have evolved based on lack of scientific understanding of the moon environment. The famous photograph of the flag in which it appears to be waving is such a case. It is just wrinkled and not moving because there is no wind on the moon. You can see this clearly in the video of Buzz Aldrin planting the flag. The only way the video could have been created is if the “soundstage” that NASA created in order to fake the moon landings was completely removed of air. The video of the lunar rover shows the same effect. The dust kicked up by the tires does not float up into the air because there is no air on the moon. If a soundstage was created to fake this event, it would have needed to exist in a enormous vacuum chamber. There are many other simple scientific misunderstandings that have led to the persistence of the hoax theories, which you can read about elsewhere, but the main crux of the conspiracy theory that does not stand up to the common sense smell test is it’s sheer size. Not only would it have taken many thousands of people to create the hoax, it would have to still be in effect today. The newest astronauts, engineers, and leaders in the military and NASA would all have to be in on it and they would all have to be spreading mis-information and helping to doctor the newest LRO photographs. I wonder what the hoax people will say when someone outside of government wins the Lunar X-prize and their robotic explorer returns pictures of Apollo equipment left on the moon. Some might be swayed, but don’t bet on most of them giving up. Some of these people have dedicated their entire lives to promoting the hoax theories. Once you invest most of your life in something, it is extremely hard to give it up, no matter what the evidence. One sad part about the hoax theorists, is that some of them have badgered, confronted, and impuned former astronauts. Buzz Aldrin was once compelled to punch one of them in the face because the hoaxer was being so aggressive – calling him a liar and a coward (there is a video on you-tube). These men risked their lives in order to fulfill the dreams and exploratory nature of human society and advance scientific understanding. They deserve respect, not derision.
One side benefit of reading up on the past manned lunar missions is that I found out about the multitude of robotic missions that preceded humans. I had no idea how many robotic explorers had gone before humans. Take a look here for a neat multimedia presentation.
Have a good Tuesday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
Posted under AGW, Alternative Energy, Drought, Space
This post was written by jloew on July 21, 2009