Year 3, Month 9, Day 22: He Lives On Credit Till The Fall

The Christian Science Monitor has an intelligent article on a weather phenomenon known as a “blocking pattern.”

As the summer of 2012 winds down, with drought and searing temperatures its hallmark for much of the continental United States, researchers are trying to get a better handle on the factors that contribute to the persistence of weather patterns responsible for the extremes.

The immediate culprit: patterns of atmospheric flow that steer storms along a given path for weeks, heating and depriving some areas of needed rain while drenching others. Such blocking patterns are a global phenomena, a normal component of Earth’s weather systems.

But some researchers suggest that global warming’s influence on the Arctic and on the tropics can change circulation patterns in ways that keep blocking patterns in place longer than they otherwise might.

For the continental US, blocking has been a byword for much of the year. The first eight months of 2012 have gone into the books as the warmest January-August period on record for the continental US, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The 12-month span ending in August 2012 was the warmest 12 months on record. The summer itself ranks third among the warmest summers on record.

Impossible. Weather only exists on television. Sent September 15:

Our complex industrialized culture ensures that many of us are profoundly distanced from the natural systems upon which, ultimately, our lives depend. For countless city-dwellers and suburbanites, a cow is just a picture on a milk carton, and ears of corn grow naturally wrapped in cellophane at the local supermarket. This separation means that we don’t recognize threats to our agriculture; droughts and crop failures are just words on print or a short clip on the evening news.

But as the old song has it, “the farmer is the one who feeds us all.” As extreme weather keeps impacting crops throughout America and the world, the farmer’s bounty may no longer be enough. When the climate crisis starts hitting Americans both in the wallet and the stomach, will we finally pay attention? And will we start respecting the scientists whose work helps us understand the complex dynamics of the situation?

Warren Senders

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