We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, November 22, 2015

El Niños in a Warming Planet

Click here to access article from Climate Nexus

El Niño and La Niña events are an occurrence of varying temperatures in the ocean off Peru and extending to the west in the Pacific Ocean. These cyclical events are closely associated with observed weather patterns and global warming in general. (Read this if you need further clarification.)

The article examines the trend in recent decades for these events to become more extreme and bringing associated extreme weather to parts of the world.
The various factors that scientists watch to forecast the near-term future of these events, including Kelvin waves and westerly wind bursts, suggest that ­the current El Niño will grow stronger. The model estimates th­at have most closely tracked the progress of this El Niño suggest that it will become the strongest on record when measured against the traditional three-month yardstick.

While this El Niño is unprecedented, it is not wholly unexpected. For several years now the oceans have been swallowing and drawing down much of the heat that has been accumulating in the atmosphere, including the extra heat trapped in the atmosphere by the growing blanket of carbon pollution. That heat is now reemerging.

Predicting how El Niños evolve in a warming planet is extremely challenging. The factors involved are far from well understood. However, the most recent model projections tell us that we may expect extreme El Niños (and La Niñas) to happen more frequently. Records tend to be broken when natural variation runs in the same direction as climate change, and this El Niño is moving along on a record-breaking path.