Showing all posts tagged: environment

Weather forecasting has improved, sadly weather apps remain oddly deficient

20 March 2024

Four day weather forecasts are now as accurate as one day forecasts from thirty years ago. That’s good news. Access to accurate weather information is perhaps more vital than many of us can appreciate.

Weather forecasting has come a long way. In 650 B.C. the Babylonians would try to predict weather patterns based on cloud patterns and movements. Three centuries later, Aristotle wrote Meteorologica, discussing how phenomena such as rain, hail, hurricanes, and lightning formed. Much of it turned out to be wrong, but it represents one of the first attempts to explain how the weather works in detail.

But more of this data needs to be ported through to the weather apps on our smartphones. I don’t know if it’s me, but the number of times I’m caught outside somewhere, in what I call “off-app” rain — that is, where no rain whatsoever is predicted for hours, if not days — seems to be increasing.


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September temperatures gobsmackingly bananas say climate scientist

6 October 2023

American climate scientist Zeke Hausfather has described global temperatures in September 2023 as gobsmackingly bananas.

This month was, in my professional opinion as a climate scientist — absolutely gobsmackingly bananas. JRA-55 beat the prior monthly record by over 0.5C, and was around 1.8C warmer than preindustrial levels.

See also the daily temperature anomalies heatmap for 2023, where September, to use Hausfather’s words again, “stands out like a sore thumb.”



Poison ivy to bloom, become more toxic, thanks to global warming

22 September 2023

Poison ivy, a noxious plant often found in North America, and parts of Asia, could become more common place as global warming creates an environment conducive to its growth.

Poison ivy is poised to be one of the big winners in this global, human-caused phenomenon. Scientists expect the dreaded three-leafed vine will take full advantage of warmer temperatures and rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to grow faster and bigger — and become even more toxic.


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El Nino weather event formally declared for Australia

21 September 2023

Australia is officially in the grip of an El Niño weather event. This means affected areas can expect higher than normal temperatures, and reduced rainfall. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology announcement on Tuesday confirmed what many people had suspected for some time.

The Bureau of Meteorology has formally declared an El Niño weather event, meaning one is underway for the first time in eight years. The major climate event impacts the weather patterns of 60 per cent of the globe, with Australia particularly vulnerable to its impacts.

That the declaration was made during the midst of a spring/pre spring equinox heatwave is all the more concerning. After parts of the northern hemisphere experienced a horror summer this year, with record high temperatures, and massive bushfires, some people will be dreading summer in the southern hemisphere.


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Once air conditioning was not needed during summers in Cairo, Egypt

20 September 2023

American journalist and cartoonist Malaka Gharib used to visit her father in Cairo, Egypt, during the summer school holidays, in the mid-nineties. It was hot, as anyone who’s been to Egypt in June or July (yours truly) could tell you.

Like many Egyptians though, her father’s home did not then have air conditioning. It was certainly warm, but somehow everyone managed. Thirty years later, Gharib wonders how Cairo residents get by when climate change is slowly pushing up temperatures, in a comic strip she drew.

While the use of air conditioning has become more widespread in Cairo, experts warn it alone is not a long term solution to the ever warmer summers parts of Egypt are presently experiencing. In some cases their operation can exasperate the problem, by placing stress on the power grid, and upping local temperatures through the heat the units themselves expend.


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Parts of Australia may see heatwaves before the spring equinox

11 September 2023

The ten-day weather forecast for some parts of NSW are currently predicting several days with maximum temperatures in the vicinity of thirty degrees centigrade. This, at the moment, for Saturday and Sunday, 16 and 17 September, and Tuesday 19 September. These temperature ranges come close to the official definition of a heatwave:

A heatwave occurs when the maximum and the minimum temperatures are unusually hot over a three-day period in a specific location. This is considered in relation to the local climate and past weather at that place.

Such a forecast may not be entirely surprising if not for the fact Australia is only into the first few weeks of spring. Technically though, were the spring equinox — which falls on Saturday 23 September this year — to be observed as the beginning of spring (as is the case in parts of the world), then it would still be winter in Australia. A heatwave in winter, fancy that.

Long range forecasts are not always accurate though, and conditions may change between now and the weekend. Still, such warm temperatures in the middle of September are alarming to say the least.

And for anyone wondering, each season in Australia commence on the first days of March, June, September, and December, because Australia adheres to the meteorological seasonal system. Many northern hemisphere nations however observe the astronomical season convention, meaning seasons change on about the beginning of the third week in March, June, September, and December.


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Better building design will make air conditioning more environmentally friendly

5 September 2023

Ways are being sought to reduce the harmful environmental impact of air conditioning (AC) systems, which remain essential for health and well-being, starting with how buildings are designed and constructed in the first place:

“We need to design our buildings in a way that consumes less energy. We need to insulate them better. We need to ventilate them better,” explained Ankit Kalanki, a manager at Third Derivative, a climate tech accelerator co-founded by the sustainability research organization RMI. “These strategies are very important. We can reduce the air conditioning demand in the first place, but we cannot eliminate that.”


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Rising humidity levels are making heatwaves unbearable

31 July 2023

Heatwaves, which have been experienced in a number of regions in the northern hemisphere in recent weeks, are being aggravated by increased levels of humidity, which is being precipitated by climate change. While it might be thought higher temperatures would cause moisture to evaporate, warmer air is capable of holding more water vapour than cooler air.

Sea surface temperatures have been steadily climbing globally, as the oceans absorb something like 90 percent of the excess heat that humans are adding to the atmosphere. But since March, global sea surface temperatures have been skyrocketing above the norm. The North Atlantic, in particular, remains super hot, loading Europe’s air with extra humidity.

Parts of the east coast of Australia saw higher levels of humidity last week, which had the effect of “taking the bite” out of otherwise relatively cooler temperatures. That’s about the only instance when high humidity has an upside. Those sorts of humidity levels will be far from welcome come summer.


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Global boiling replaces global warming as world swelters through July

28 July 2023

The world has sweated through its hottest three weeks on record, as heatwaves continue to ravage parts of the northern hemisphere. Possibly the last time temperatures were this warm was one hundred thousand years ago.

Typically these records, which track the average air temperature across the entire world, are broken by hundredths of a degree. But the temperature for the first 23 days of July averaged 16.95 degrees Celsius (62.51 Fahrenheit), well above the previous record of 16.63 degrees Celsius (61.93 Fahrenheit) set in July 2019, according to the report.

I’m dreading the upcoming Australian summer. As I type, the forecast high today is 23° Celsius, in this part of the world the July (middle of winter) average is meant to be closer to about 16° Celsius.


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Monday 3 July 2023, hottest recorded day in the world

7 July 2023

Temperatures on Monday reached an average of 17.01 Celsius, up from the previous high of 16.92 Celsius, recorded in August 2016. This as parts of the United States, China, and Africa, have sweltered through oppressive heatwaves in recent weeks.