Friday 14th of June 2024

"The worst, the biggest, the strongest, the wildest, the hottest"...


Illustration by Nobu Tamura, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)


"The worst, the biggest, the strongest, the wildest, the hottest"…

These are words that some people who are sceptical about global warming argue about. And it’s a fair comment. What’s often missing from most comments and articles about "the worst, the biggest, the strongest, the wildest, the hottest" is two small words: “on record”.
Records about stuff have been kept for a long time. Population census during Roman times let Jesus being born in a manger, because there were too many people in town and the only available accommodation was a stable, with a nice cow and room for a donkey as well.
So humans have kept records of stuffs... Even Aborigines in Arnhem Land kept a "record" of what animals and other fishes were available at the time. For example, they painted on rocks the pictures of palorchestes, a large marsupial that became extinct a while back, but that was live and kicking when the paintings were done. As well, when the sea level rose during the last big melt (14,000-10,000 years ago), the Arafura plain became the Arafura sea and new species of fish entered the fresh water rivers that had by then become estuaries into a shallow sea. The Aborigines did rock paintings that recorded this change.
In the 17th century, the thermoscope was invented by Giuseppe Biancani and the first instrument showing a scale and thus constituting a thermometer was invented by Robert Fludd in 1638. Santorio was the first to apply a numerical scale to the thermoscope, which later evolved into the thermometer. Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1736) was the German physicist who invented the alcohol thermometer in 1709, and the mercury thermometer in 1714. Most of these are based on thermal expansion of liquids.
By the 18th century, temperatures could be measured with a reasonable precision. The Celsius scale, invented by Swedish Astronomer Anders Celsius (1701-1744), has 100 degrees between the freezing point (0 C) and boiling point (100 C) of pure water at sea level air pressure. The term "Celsius" was adopted in 1948 by an international conference on weights and measures.
At this stage, we have a record of daily temperatures from the 18th century onwards. Most are accurate to about a tenth of a degree. Certain devices, like the weather proof box to get daily temperature variations, were also invented to get the most accurate reading possible. Thermometers that register daily minima and maxima were soon invented also. 
As well, due to agricultural practices, weather patterns were logged. Barometric pressures were also logged from the 18th century. Evangelista Torricelli is universally credited with inventing the barometer in 1643, historical documentation suggests Gasparo Berti, an Italian mathematician and astronomer, unintentionally built a water barometer sometime between 1640 and 1643. 
All these instruments were then supplemented by others, such as the hygrometer. Francesco Folli invented a practical hygrometer in 1664. In 1783, Swiss physicist and geologist, Horace Bénédict de Saussure built the first hygrometer using a human hair to measure humidity. Robert Hooke, A 17th century contemporary of Sir Isaac Newton improved a number of meteorological instruments, such as the barometer and the anemometer. 
So, people, fascinated with weather patterns, started to record various parameters such as temperature, air pressure, wind speed and humidity. 
In the end, when scientists say “the worst, the most, the biggest, the strongest, the wildest, the hottest” it is said in relation to what has been previously “scientifically” recorded. There is no hocus-pocus in this assessment.
Some weather phenomenons are still difficult to assess. But some scales have been defined in regard to hurricanes and cyclones, such as the Beaufort scale. These could be quite loose in our interpretations, but they give a fair description, say, from a storm to a hurricane. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale from 1 to 5 sets category for sustained wind speeds of such weather system:

1 74-95 mph 64-82 kt 119-153 km/h

2 96-110 mph 83-95 kt 154-177 km/h
3 (major) 111-129 mph 96-112 kt 178-208 km/h
4 (major) 130-156 mph 113-136 kt 209-251 km/h
etc (5).

Sometimes, "the worst, the most, the biggest, the strongest, the wildest, the hottest” is presented in relation to an earlier date rather than the complete known record. We need to be circumspect about this, though more often than not, under global warming conditions, such "worst, most, biggest, strongest, wildest, hottest", become “more frequent". Floods of the century happen “more often”, sometimes every decade or every two years in some part of the world. 
Contrasts are more difficult to gauge against precedents. For example, the recent November Californian fires and the concurrent freezing cold in Washington can appear like weird extremes. As well we could suspect, such as in previous years of global warming observation, temperatures in the arctic are "not as cold as they should be". We will know by the end of year.
For example at present, Eastern southern Australia is “colder than usual", while Eastern northern Australia is "warmer than usual". This is not enough to assess “global warming” on the world scale, but should we get a better fix on the situation we would need to know the surface temperatures as well as the surface area concerned. This is what scientists do on a planetary scale. Due to the high number of data points (about every 25 kilometres) and surfaces, the calculations are done by massive computers. Older records are also crunched through, in order to get a planetary perspective of change. 
So in the end, by comparison with what we can know, we can say "the worst, the most, the biggest, the strongest, the wildest, the hottest" since we invented sliced cheese. 
The next step is to relate this to a longer time scale. At this stage, we know about the record of warm and cool periods for the last 2.7 million years. 
We also know that the presence of EXTRA warming gases, on top of the natural gaseous variations in the atmosphere is influencing "the worst, the most, the biggest, the strongest, the wildest, the hottest”.
Anyone with a slide-rule and a brain can compute the next: the more warming gases in the atmosphere, "the worst, the most, the biggest, the strongest, the wildest, the hottest” things are going to get, despite some ups and downs brought on by mitigating feedback mechanisms. “The worst, the most, the biggest, the strongest, the wildest, the hottest” is going to be the trend of atmospheric behaviour under global warming conditions.

Insurance companies know this too well. 

destruction "like never before"...

Fires in Western Australia's Wheatbelt have torn through grain crops, leaving a damage bill of more than $3.6 million. 

Up to 20 fires were sparked by lightning strikes late on Thursday as thunderstorms rolled through the Dalwallinu area. 

Dalwallinu Shire chief bushfire control officer Gary Butcher said about 3,000 hectares of cereal crop was lost in the largest blaze.


"The wind was not too bad actually, so it does give you an idea of what would happen on a hot summer's day," he said.

"[It was] a good wake up drill for those who haven't seen fires.

"I've been doing this job for 30 years and we haven't had it where you haven't had immediate rain."

Read more:

the worst november storm in 136 years...



The New York Area Was Nearly Paralyzed by 6 Inches of Snow. What Went Wrong?

Read from top. 
"unacceptable?" You kiddin'?... The weather is what the weather is with, presently, a tad of "global warming". You ain't seen anything yet...

never like this in queensland...

"We haven't seen this in Queensland before."

Inspector Sturgeous said they expected strong northerly winds to push the fire towards Deepwater and Baffle Creek until 10pm when they're expected to die down.

"Even after that this fire will continue to burn and spread right throughout the night. It will burn and spread again tomorrow [Monday]," he said.

More than 40 fire trucks, 100 firefighters and six waterbombing aircraft were working to contain the blaze.

An evacuation centre has been established at Miriam Vale Community Centre on Blomfield Street.


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going turtle...

In just one morning, dozens of "frozen solid" sea turtles were discovered washed up on beaches in the north of the United States, with wildlife volunteers saying most were beyond saving.

Key points:
  • Cold-stun season is an annual natural phenomenon 
  • Volunteers noted an early start to the season this year
  • More than 400 turtles have been affected so far


More than 80 turtles were found on the shores of multiple beaches in the Cape Cod region of Massachusetts on Thursday.

Most of the turtles were dead, Massachusetts Audubon Society's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary communications coordinator Jenette Kerr told the Cape Cod Times.

"We are at well over 400 cold-stunned turtles [this year] — 82 today, the vast majority of them frozen solid," Ms Kerr said on Thursday.

Volunteers counted 87 beach turtles the day before, but the majority of them were still alive.

The difference was a drastic change in weather on Wednesday night, bringing low temperatures and high wind speeds.

This sudden temperature drop was blamed for Thursday's turtle death toll.


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never seen blah blah blah...

Gary O'Keefe, a past president of the North Wangaratta Football and Netball Club, said the amount of rain that came down was extraordinary, leaving their newly carpeted clubrooms inundated.

"We've never seen anything like it coming down off these hills," he told the ABC.

"We've got about two feet of water in the social rooms. That's come off the adjacent hillsides, off the footy ground and it just had nowhere to go."


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Hopefully the new carpet is insured against flooding...

hot swedes...



The farmer, who runs her own farm since the death of her husband in 1999, did not sleep at night. "One by one, new problems arose. The grass started to go yellow. The river was dry. The second harvest gave only eleven bales of hay against the usual one hundred. A cow died, poisoned by the huge green tassels that strewed the soil of the fields. At the slaughterhouse, the queue lengthened: when the ban on lighting a fire was extended to private gardens, during the barbecue season, the Swedes stopped eating meat.

Read also: Droughts, floods ... climatic shock worsens hunger in the world

In the memory of a farmer, we do not remember having known such a summer. "What is particularly unusual is that it was very hot and very dry at the same time, all over the country, increasing the need for water," observes climatologist Gustav Strandberg. By the month of May, mercury hit record highs. July was the hottest ever observed since records began in 1756 and it is necessary to go back to the middle of the 19th century to find similar drought episodes.


Read more:


Translation by Jules Letambour


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