Energy and global warming news for December 28: Warming-driven beetles massacre The Rockies’ whitebark pines; Paul Krugman on ‘The Finite World’ aka Limits to Growth

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"Energy and global warming news for December 28: Warming-driven beetles massacre The Rockies’ whitebark pines; Paul Krugman on ‘The Finite World’ aka Limits to Growth"

Many dead trees appear gray and red.

Many dead trees appear gray and red on the high-mountain slopes of Union Pass Bridger in Teton National Forest in Wyoming

Small Beetles Massacre The Rockies’ Whitebark Pines

The Whitebark pine trees in the high-elevation areas of America’s Northern Rockies have stood for centuries. But these formerly lush evergreen forests are disappearing at an alarmingly fast rate; what remains are eerie stands of red and gray snags.

Warmer climates have sparked an outbreak of a voracious mountain pine beetle that is having devastating consequences for whitebarks and the wildlife that depend on them.

If you want to see how quickly tiny mountain pine beetles are devouring Yellowstone’s majestic whitebark forests, you have to ski uphill “” way uphill. The trees only grow at altitudes higher than 8,500 feet above sea level.

As entomologist Jesse Logan looks up at snow-covered slopes speckled with skeletons of dead trees, he says the massacre is happening faster than even he expected. More than a decade ago, Logan predicted that with global warming, these tiny, ravenous beetles would start to thrive here. At the time, other insect experts were skeptical. But in recent years, winter cold snaps haven’t been nearly as brutal as usual.

“It’s the sort of time in your life that you hope to hell you’re absolutely dead wrong, and it comes to be that you weren’t right enough,” Logan says. “And now I wonder if my grandchild will ever have the experience of being in white bark.”

For background, see:

The NPR story continues:

So what can be done to prevent the whitebarks from dying?

“There’s not any silver bullet or like a pesticide or something we can apply,” Logan says. “That’s just not going to happen. What we can do is begin to address seriously the issue of climate change. That’s what’s really causing this.”

But it’s no easy task getting governments and individuals to make the significant changes necessary to significantly reduce human contributions to global warming.

And the beetles are making it even harder to fight climate change. As the trees they’ve killed decay, they release the carbon dioxide that they’ve been storing into the atmosphere.

Paul Krugman:  The Finite World

Oil is back above $90 a barrel. Copper and cotton have hit record highs. Wheat and corn prices are way up. Over all, world commodity prices have risen by a quarter in the past six months.

So what’s the meaning of this surge?

Is it speculation run amok? Is it the result of excessive money creation, a harbinger of runaway inflation just around the corner? No and no.

What the commodity markets are telling us is that we’re living in a finite world, in which the rapid growth of emerging economies is placing pressure on limited supplies of raw materials, pushing up their prices. And America is, for the most part, just a bystander in this story.

Some background: The last time the prices of oil and other commodities were this high, two and a half years ago, many commentators dismissed the price spike as an aberration driven by speculators. And they claimed vindication when commodity prices plunged in the second half of 2008.

But that price collapse coincided with a severe global recession, which led to a sharp fall in demand for raw materials. The big test would come when the world economy recovered. Would raw materials once again become expensive?

Well, it still feels like a recession in America. But thanks to growth in developing nations, world industrial production recently passed its previous peak “” and, sure enough, commodity prices are surging again….

… commodity prices are set globally, and what America does just isn’t that important a factor.In particular, today, as in 2007-2008, the primary driving force behind rising commodity prices isn’t demand from the United States. It’s demand from China and other emerging economies. As more and more people in formerly poor nations are entering the global middle class, they’re beginning to drive cars and eat meat, placing growing pressure on world oil and food supplies.

And those supplies aren’t keeping pace. Conventional oil production has been flat for four years; in that sense, at least, peak oil has arrived. True, alternative sources, like oil from Canada’s tar sands, have continued to grow. But these alternative sources come at relatively high cost, both monetary and environmental.

Also, over the past year, extreme weather “” especially severe heat and drought in some important agricultural regions “” played an important role in driving up food prices. And, yes, there’s every reason to believe that climate change is making such weather episodes more common.

So what are the implications of the recent rise in commodity prices? It is, as I said, a sign that we’re living in a finite world, one in which resource constraints are becoming increasingly binding. This won’t bring an end to economic growth, let alone a descent into Mad Max-style collapse. It will require that we gradually change the way we live, adapting our economy and our lifestyles to the reality of more expensive resources.

But that’s for the future. Right now, rising commodity prices are basically the result of global recovery. They have no bearing, one way or another, on U.S. monetary policy. For this is a global story; at a fundamental level, it’s not about us.

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49 Responses to Energy and global warming news for December 28: Warming-driven beetles massacre The Rockies’ whitebark pines; Paul Krugman on ‘The Finite World’ aka Limits to Growth

  1. Anonymous says:

    In two hundred years there will be three species remaining on planet Earth: humans, cockroaches, and algae. There will be a slave class that eats the cockroaches and algae, and a master class that eats the slaves. And all of them will be Christian.

  2. Some European says:

    My Christmas present:
    A translation of an article that appeared today on the website of the Belgian (Flemish) newspaper ‘De Morgen’. The author is Barbara Debusschere. I don’t know if she works for De Morgen or for Belgium’s press agency ‘belga’. I understand it’s a short version of the full article that must have appeared in the paper this morning. It’s not extraordinary but still much better than what seems to be standard journalistic practice in the US.
    It’s also very repetitive but then, we must remember the mantra the deniers have understood so well: repeat, repeat, repeat.
    At the end, Jean Pascal van Ypersele, the IPCC’s vice-chair, is let to comment.
    Also, a nice term appears: ‘yo-yo weather’. I don’t remember having heard it before. Let’s use it!

    Weather turns crazy

    In Brussels, London and New York it’s freezing cold, in Tasmania, now in summer, it’s snowing and in Greenland and Turkey heat records are smahed. Floods, blizzards and heat waves are lashing the planet. Climatologists are not surprised.

    In our country the previous record of snowy days – 49 in 1906 – was broken. Yesterday it was at 54. Meanwhile the American east coast is batted by extreme cold and snow storms, while one part of Australia suffers from rain and the other from heat. This year will enter history as one of extreme weather, full of natural disasters. There are no signs that it will ease in 2011, on the contrary.

    In mid-december, Greece faced the most extraordinary meteorological jumps in decades. In just 48 hours the temperature in south of the country plummeted a full 20 degrees*. In Crete the thermometer showed 25 degrees one day and two days later snow fell. In Athens, at the same time, they went from an enjoyable 22 to just above freezing and snow.

    Yo-yo weather

    Bulgarians and Australians alike are dealing with yo-yo weather. In Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgary, though officially winter, they registered 20 degrees just two days ago. Earlier this month the capital Sofia recorded 23 degrees and in the western part Christmas Eve seemed like a summer’s evening with a warm thunderstorm. But in the mean time, severe winter weather is headed for Bulgaria.

    Australia’s weather isn’t any more reliable. For the last day of the year 36 degrees is forecast, while yesterday they had 7 degrees. In the mean time, extreme rain is lashing the Australian east coast while the west coast gets heat and wildfires.

    On the other side of the globe, in Europe and the US, cold and snow continue to wreak havoc. Especially the US east coast is being hit, like last year, by severe snow storms, which led to the governors of Massachusetts, Virginia and Maryland declaring a state of emergency and to the closing down of all of New York airports. The southern US experienced a rare white Chritsmas, Atlanta’s first in 128 years.

    A state of emergency was also declared in California on the US west coast because of the exceptional weather. In the Sierra Nevada desert, rain storms and thick snowpacks are causing misery and meteorological records. In some parts of the state, thousands of people had to be evacuated.

    Moscow’s airport had to be closed because unusually warm weather was causing hail storms. Bangladesh is currently dealing with unusual cold and also in Europe, especially Britain, which is going through its worst winter in a century, there’s a cold snap with snow storms and closed airports.

    Warming vs cold snap

    What’s going on? Different weather phenomena are interacting, says top-climatologist Jean-Pascal van Ypersele (UCL). As the earth warms there’s more moisture in the air. Therefore there’s more energy in the atmosphere allowing weather patterns to become more capricious and phenomena like storms to become more intense. “And most of all, more moisture in the atmosphere means more precipitation. With cold temperatures that’s snow. All around the world rain and snow amounts are increasing”, says van Ypersele.

    There’s also a compensation effect. Van Ypersele: “When it’s very cold in one place, inevitably it has to be warmer than average somewhere else.”

    Beside that, the complex dynamics of oceans also play a part. The oceans too, are influenced by global warming and have in turn a big impact on winter temperatures, among others.

    That these are so low in our region and in the US gives some the impression that global warming is not a big deal. “False”, says van Ypersele. The past year will likely be the warmest ever recorded, november was the warmest november on record, dating back to the industrial revolution and in Turkey and Greece many heat records were broken this month. The same goes for Greenland.

    Van Ypersele insists on the relativity of some cold records. In 2009, Europe had its coldest winter but one in 25 years with temperatures 1,3 degrees below average. But climate is about the longer term. Last year was the thirteenth coldest winter since 1948 and the fifth warmest ever [sic]. What’s more, according to climatologist Julien Cattiaux at the French ‘Laboratoire des sciences du climat et l’environnement’ the occasional cold winters could be much colder without global warming.

    *all temperatures are in Celsius

    kudos to Barbara Debusschere for not calling a denier tp bring some ‘balance’.
    I sent her an e-mail to thank her for that.

  3. Bob Doublin says:

    Has anyone seen this story?

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/1224/1224286236843.html

    If this holds up, that will make it 19 all-time high records to ONE all-time low.
    19 to 1
    19 to 1.
    They do use Celsius in Ireland? The figure given is about 15F if so.

  4. Colorado Bob says:

    Bob -
    I saw that report about Ireland, and I think it’s great . It gave me the opportunity to point out that for a denier, one is much bigger number than nineteen.

  5. Michael T. says:

    Martha Stewart – Polar Bear Preservation

    “During November 2010, Martha Stewart travelled with us to Churchill to firsthand experience our wild polar bears and learn about issues like habitat loss that are affecting polar bear survival in the West Hudson Bay region.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5u3jiDcMv8

  6. Colorado Bob says:

    THE devastating floods across the eastern states will strip up to $6 billion from the national economy.

    The estimated $6bn hit to the economy does not include the likely clean-up costs, damage to infrastructure, insurance payouts and government assistance.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/floods-deal-6bn-blow-to-economy-as-1000-evacuated-in-queensland-deluge/story-fn59niix-1225977551930

  7. Colorado Bob says:

    The new winter pattern continues to emerge . Colder storms bring heavy snow , but warmer storms bring rain and thawing temps., producing flooding as the rain melts the snow as well as rising stream flows.

    Warm Weather, Rain Threaten Flooding in Wisconsin
    Forecasters fear a combination of rain and warmer than normal temperatures could lead to flooding this weekend in southcentral and southeastern Wisconsin.

    http://www.wsaw.com/sunrise7/headlines/Warm_Weather_Rain_Threaten_Flooding_in_Wisconsin_112549209.html

  8. Prokaryotes says:

    Rep. Upton Takes on EPA

    Rep. Fred Upton, the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wants to block the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing new emissions standards for oil refineries and coal-fired power plants. http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2010/12/28/rep-upton-takes-on-epa/

  9. Colorado Bob says:

    Sugar futures extended a rally to a 30-year high on mounting concern that dry weather in Brazil, the world’s biggest producer, and record rainfall in Australia will slash worldwide supplies.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-28/sugar-futures-rally-reaching-30-year-high-as-global-use-outpaces-supply.html

  10. Mike Roddy says:

    Global warming has indeed created a huge problem with beetle predation in the Rockies, BC coastal forests, and, now, in the Western US.

    What the media fails to point out is that only about 5% of American forests have not been extensively logged out, and regrowth, where it has occurred, tends to be monoculture plantations or simplified pioneer species ecosystems. Mature forests are more resilient, and contain other conifers that may be resistant to beetles and occupy pine trees’ niches. The high elevation Rocky Mountain whitebark pine trees may be natural, but more common are other degraded “managed” forests throughout the country.

    Logging is also a huge problem for our carbon budget, and accounts for about 400 million tons of CO2 emissions annually in the US alone. This information is kept from the public by the logging companies and our government. Natural forest regeneration mitigates global warming by sequestring carbon much better than Wall Street supported plantation schemes, since an old growth forest can sequester close to 1,000 tons of CO2 per acre in the West, compared to a small fraction of that in a plantation.

    My published work on the subject can be found at
    http://www.tinyurl.com/ycxfsqu
    http://www.tinyurl.com/yc8ncuq

  11. Prokaryotes says:

    Trickle-down Theory: Pay no taxes, burn up US infrastructure for profit, refuse regulation to protect ecosystem, hire overseas, pay no taxes, stock buybacks, US unemployment at record highs … http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40827123/ns/business-us_business/
    http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/esm1f/trickledown_theory_pay_no_taxes_burn_up_us/

  12. Colorado Bob says:

    Winds in excess of 150 miles per hour were noted on the Sierra Nevada crest, with a gust to 164 miles per hour clocked on December 19 on Mammoth Mountain, California.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-28/usda-weekly-weather-and-crop-bulletin-report-text-.html

  13. Some European says:

    NOAA November results finally out. prrr… November 2010 second warmest after 2004.

    The article I translated higher now has a TV fragment above it with a denier saying this is nothing new and that he’s never seen any proof of a human influence on climate.
    Of course 1000 more people have watched the TV news than have read the article.
    It gets so much more real when it happens in your own country, in front of your eyes… I feel so helpless!

  14. Prokaryotes says:

    1# said, “In two hundred years there will be three species remaining on planet Earth: humans, ”

    How do these humans plan to survive? There will be a few “arcs” which all will fail, because it is impossible to cope with the time magnitude of 100.000 years, clathrate guns, chances of runaway cc, unknowns like reactivating of super viruses, human biological warfare, nuclear warfare etc etc

  15. 350 Now says:

    More info and commentary on western US tree mortality from bark beetles (Oct. 2010) at RealClimate.org at
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/10/seeing-red/

  16. catman306 says:

    Smart money is building windfarms:

    The Oracle Seems to Like Wind Power
    MidAmerican, a holding company that is 80% owned by Warren Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway, will expand its wind power capacity in Iowa by almost 600 megawatts (!). This isn’t quite a direct endorsement of wind power by the greatest investor of all time (at least, not in the same way that buying a 10% stake in BYD was an endorsement of advanced batteries and electric cars) because it probably wasn’t his decision, but in any case it’s still pretty good news for wind power in the USA.

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/12/warren-buffett-midamerican-orders-258-wind-turbines.php

  17. Prokaryotes says:

    Addicted

    Anger mounts over gas price hike in Bolivia

    (CNN) — Police in Bolivia used tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters who took to the streets protesting a hike on the price of fuels Monday.
    The price of gasoline has risen 73 percent while diesel fuel rose at least 80 percent. http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/12/28/bolivia.gasoline.strike/index.html?hpt=T2

  18. Prokaryotes says:

    Worst to come for north region

    THIRTY-SEVEN houses in Mundubbera have been evacuated after water inundated the town on Monday night.

    North Burnett mayor Joy Jensen said the only thing still visible on some of the homes was the roof.

    “We were told the river at Mundubbera was meant to peak at 18.75m (Tuesday) morning but it is still rising (at noon),” Cr Jensen said.

    The mayor said the amount of water flooding in was mind-boggling with even the “very high” bridge at Mingo, built to cope with the one-in-100-year flood levels, under half a metre of water.
    http://www.news-mail.com.au/story/2010/12/29/Mundubbera-evacuated-north-burnett-flood-weather/

    lol, total destruction and people still dig fossil

  19. Prokaryotes says:

    More from the species which still digs fossils

    Australian floods force mass evacuations in Queensland http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viGXwVtdyqo&feature=player_embedded

  20. Michael T. says:

    State of the Climate Global Analysis – November 2010

    Global Highlights:
    • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for November 2010 was 0.69°C (1.24°F) above the 20th century average of 12.9°C (55.2°F). This was the second warmest such period on record. 2004 was the warmest November on record.
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2010/11

  21. Colorado Bob says:

    Wheat poised to weather climate change
    Over last 150 years, North American wheat has survived such challenges, study finds

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40822934/

  22. Mike says:

    This is kinda cool. I was on the New Scientist web-page and they had an ad, not for Shell Oil, but from Texas Tech University. The ad touted TT’s climatologists’ participation in the Nobel prize winning IPCC report. A link went here:

    http://today.ttu.edu/2010/02/global-climate-change-still-a-reality/

    Then the ad flashed to a new image boasting their PhD program in wind energy. A link went here:

    http://www.depts.ttu.edu/weweb/

    Glad somebody in Texas knows what is going on.

  23. Mike says:

    In order to fair and balanced here is one for the contrariness. A rare case of people being saved by global warming.

    CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine – A 35-year-old chair lift set for improvements failed Tuesday at a popular Maine resort, sending skiers — some of them children — plummeting into ungroomed snow far below that fell with the Northeast’s recent blizzard and softened the landing…. Rebecca London, one of the skiers who tumbled to the snow, told The Associated Press that her face hit a retaining bar, but that her goggles spared her from serious injury. She credited new snow underneath the lift with a soft landing; the resort said it got 20 to 22 inches in Monday’s storm.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101228/ap_on_bi_ge/us_ski_lift_accident

  24. Richard Poor says:

    It is amazing…perhaps appalling that nowhere could I find mention that charging a PHEV or EV with PV costs less money than $2.50/gallon at the retail pump for fossil fuel.

    It is less expensive to drive on solar than fossil fuel. Why don’t you publicize that?????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    [JR: I mention it all the time.]

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    MIke, the chances are that this maine event was caused by a microburst … CNN reported strong gust and a strange wind pattern.

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Orders 258 Wind Turbines for Iowa Wind Farm

    The Oracle Seems to Like Wind Power
    MidAmerican, a holding company that is 80% owned by Warren Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway, will expand its wind power capacity in Iowa by almost 600 megawatts (!)

    … ordering 258 Siemens 2.2-megawatt at once is a significant order, and it’ll help Iowa stay a top-producing state: According to the American Wind Energy Association, “at the end of 2009, the installed capacity for wind power in Iowa was 3670 megawatts (MW), a bit more than 10% of the total wind capacity in the U.S.”.

    The turbines will be located in five Iowa counties next year and have a combined capacity of 593 megawatts, enough power for 190,000 homes http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/12/warren-buffett-midamerican-orders-258-wind-turbines.php

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    Finally – This should go EVERYWHERE and with all the hefty snow event coverage!!!

    Holiday Blizzard: More Signs of Global Warming

    It’s become as much a winter tradition as eggnog at Christmas and champagne on New Year’s Eve — the first major snowstorm of the year bringing out the climate-change skeptics. And the bona fide blizzard that has frozen much of the Northeast just a few days after winter officially began definitely qualifies as major. But while piles of snow blocking your driveway hardly conjure images of a dangerously warming world, it doesn’t mean that climate change is a myth. The World Meteorological Organization recently reported that 2010 is almost certainly going to be one of the three warmest years on record, while 2001 to 2010 is already the hottest decade in recorded history. Indeed, according to some scientists, all of these events may actually be connected.

    One theory is that a warmer Arctic may actually lead to colder and snowier winters in the northern mid-latitudes. Even as countries like Britain — suffering through the coldest December on record — deal with low temperatures and unusual snow, the Arctic has kept on warming, with Greenland and Arctic Canada experiencing the hottest year on record. Temperatures in that region have been 5.4°F to 7.2°F (3°C to 4°C) above normal in 2010. As a result, the Arctic sea-ice cover has continued to shrink; this September, the minimum summer sea-ice extent was more than 770,000 sq. mi. (2 million sq km) below the long-term average, and the third-smallest on record. Snow may be piling up in midtown Manhattan, but the Arctic is continuing its long-term meltdown.

    The loss of Arctic sea ice helps accelerate the warming of the atmosphere in the far north, thanks to what’s known as the albedo effect. White ice reflects sunlight into space, cooling the air, but when ice melts and is replaced with dark ocean water, the effect is reversed and more of the sun’s heat is absorbed. As the Arctic air warms, it raises the altitude of discrete areas of high pressure, which can then alter wind patterns. This, in turn, can weaken the jet stream, allowing more cold air to seep out of the Arctic and into Europe and the eastern U.S. As the authors of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s recent “Arctic Report Card” put it, “There is evidence that the effect of higher air temperatures in the lower Arctic atmosphere in fall is contributing to changes in the atmospheric circulation in both the Arctic and northern mid-latitudes. Winter 2009-2010 showed a new connectivity between mid-latitude extreme cold and snowy weather events and changes in the wind patterns of the Arctic; the so-called Warm Arctic–Cold Continents pattern.”

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2039777,00.html

  28. Wes Rolley says:

    Prokaryotes 20

    Are you forgetting the ongoing drought in S. Australia?

  29. Deborah Stark says:

    That photograph is breaking my heart. It reminds me of watching the Ponderosa pines turning brown on Mars Hill in Flagstaff between fall 2002 and fall 2005. The brown areas grew larger every year.

    I had a dream a few months after returning to Boston from Flagstaff. I was sitting at a large table with a dozen or so government officials and conveying to them my observations of the prior ten years, showing them personal photographs, and referring to related literature from the research community and relevant local and regional media documentation from my hard-copy archives, etc. At one point I looked around at everyone seated at the table and all of their faces had turned to stone. I woke up terrified. I have nothing else to say about this other than that it made an indelible impression on me.

    Apparently we have reached a point where direct observation is considered inadequate in the evidence department.

    Gail knows what I mean.

  30. Deborah Stark says:

    Re: Colorado Bob | Post #13

    Thank you very much for the (Bloomberg) link to the USDA weekly weather and crop bulletin report. I will make that a part of my weekly data cruise.

  31. Prokaryotes says:

    Wes Rolley, …. this?

    Drought in Australia Connected to Snowfall in Antarctica, Researchers Find
    February 10, 2010
    Relationship between Australia’s drought and Antarctica’s increased snowfall offers clues to human contribution to global warming.

    A so-called “precipitation see-saw” links the Australian drought and Antarctic snowfall. Relatively cool, dry air flows to southwest Australia, providing little rain; while warm, moist air flows to east Antarctica, providing abundant snow.
    This link helps explain why rainfall levels have been so low in southwest Australia and snowfall has been so high on the Law Dome in east Antarctica. It also helps clarify the drought’s severity in historical terms, WAtoday reports.
    Southwest Australia has seen a 15 to 20 percent decline in winter rainfall since drought began in the 1970s. The impact has been devastating to farmers, industries and citizens within the region. http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2010/world/drought-in-australia-connected-to-snowfall-in-antarctica-researchers-find/

    Queensland is a state of Australia that occupies the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queensland

    South west vs North east …

  32. Prokaryotes says:

    +++ New York City has had four of its top-ten snowfalls in the past decade +++ New York City has had four of its top-ten snowfalls in the past decade +++ The old adage, “it’s too cold to snow”, has some truth to it, and there is research supporting the idea +++ The old adage, “it’s too cold to snow”, has some truth to it, and there is research supporting the idea

    Northeast U.S. digs out from yet another history-making snowstorm

    The remarkable Post-Christmas blizzard of 2010 has ended for the United States, as the storm has trekked northeastward into Canada. The blizzard dropped epic amounts of snow during its rampage up the U.S. Northeast coast Sunday and Monday, with an incredible 32″ falling in Rahway, New Jersey, about 15 miles southwest of New York City. The highest populated areas of New Jersey received over two feet of snow, including the Newark Airport, which received 24.1″. Snowfall amounts were slightly lower across New York City. The blizzard of 2010 dumped 20.0″ inches on New York City’s Central Park, making it the 6th largest snowstorm for the city in recorded history, and the second top-ten snowstorm this year. Remarkably, New York City has had four of its top-ten snowfalls in the past decade (highlighted in the list below.)

    An unusual number of top-ten snowstorms for the Northeast in recent years
    The Northeast has seen an inordinate number of top-ten snowstorms in the past ten years, raising the question of whether this is due to random chance or a change in the climate. A study by Houston and Changnon (2009) on the top ten heaviest snows on record for each of 121 major U.S. cities showed no upward or downward trend in these very heaviest snowstorms during the period 1948 – 2001. It would be interesting to see if they repeated their study using data from the past decade if the answer would change. As I stated in my blog post, The United States of Snow in February, bigger snowstorms are not an indication that global warming is not occurring. The old adage, “it’s too cold to snow”, has some truth to it, and there is research supporting the idea that the average climate in the U.S. is colder than optimal to support the heaviest snowstorms. For example, Changnon et al. (2006) found that for the contiguous U.S. between 1900 – 2001, 61% – 80% of all heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches occurred during winters with above normal temperatures. The authors also found that 61% – 85% of all heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches occurred during winters that were wetter than average. The authors conclude, “a future with wetter and warmer winters, which is one outcome expected (National Assessment Synthesis Team 2001), will bring more heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches than in 1901 – 2000.” The authors found that over the U.S. as a whole, there had been a slight but significant increase in heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches than in 1901 – 2000. If the climate continues to warm, we should expect an increase in heavy snow events for a few decades, until the climate grows so warm that we pass the point where winter temperatures are at the optimum for heavy snow events.

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1717

  33. paulm says:

    #2 Some, great article.

    Planet Eaarth…
    From the same source…via google translate…chipping away at civilization…

    Frost ruining our roads
    http://www.demorgen.be/dm/nl/989/Binnenland/article/detail/1201014/2010/12/28/Vrieskou-ruineert-onze-wegen.dhtml

  34. Wit's End says:

    Hi Deborah Stark…I did post a comment but I guess it had too many links. So here it is without the evidence…if anyone is interested they can drop me a line!

    Pecan trees in Texas are dying too.
    So are orange trees in Florida.
    So are butternut trees in the Canada.
    So are apple trees and mistletoe in England.
    Almond trees in California.
    Maple trees from Ohio…
    …to Vermont.
    Douglas Fir in the Pacific Northwest.
    Cork and Oak in Portugal.
    Hemlocks in the southeast.
    Horse Chestnuts in England.
    Kiwi trees in New Zealand and Italy.
    Salt marshes on Cape Cod.
    Trees are dying off all over the west in apparently healthy forests with no evidence of beetles:

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1873352,00.html

    “The study, led by authors from the United States Geological Survey and published in the journal Science, found the rate of tree deaths has more than doubled in the last few decades even in apparently healthy, well-established forests. Death rates have increased at all elevations, and for trees of all sizes and types, leading the researchers to worry that the U.S. may soon suffer massive and sudden die-backs of its seemingly healthy forests, a cascading effect that could release carbon dioxide into the air, further speeding global warming.”

    “Scientists have already witnessed mass tree deaths in American forests due to beetle infestations. Periodic outbreaks of Mountain Pine Beetle in Colorado, for example, has killed an estimated 7.4 million trees in the past decade. But the Science study, titled “Widespread Increase of Tree Mortality Rates in the Western United States,” is the first to show A CREEPING DEATH RATE IN ANCIENT, WELL-ESTABLISHED CONIFEROUS FORESTS WITH NO EVIDENCE OF EPIDEMIC INFESTATIONS.”

    Does anyone see a pattern here? Trees all over the world are dying, and it’s being blamed on insects, fungus and disease. Which is ludicrous, because scientific research has established three irrefutable facts that are crucial to this discussion:

    1. ozone damages vegetation – anything that has to photosynthesize

    2. the levels of background tropospheric ozone are inexorably rising

    3. trees and crops exposed to ozone are more likely to succumb to insects, disease, fungus, and extreme weather. They lose their natural immunity that kept the presence of pathogens in balance. They have AIDS, in other words.

    It’s about time that the experts start looking at the big picture and identify the underlying cause for trees of all species to be dying off, while there is still (a dwindling amount of) time left to rescue some survivors and propagate more.

    We need to ration fuel on a wartime footing and convert to clean sources of energy.

  35. paulm says:

    Amazing set of images.

    see this one then start from the latest back!

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=47880

  36. Colorado Bob says:

    Deborah @31 -
    ……. Real interesting info. on one spot.

  37. Wit's End says:

    Deborah, David B. – TWO comments, one disappeared, the other moderated (too many links!) – if you check the witsend blog, there is the list of many other species of trees that are dying, not just from bark beetle, and not just directly downwind from coal plants as in the pecans.

    This is a global, not merely a local threat. At bottom is the inexorably rising level of background tropospheric ozone…and synergistic effects with isolated pests, diseases, and fungus.

  38. Paulm says:

    Eaarth…

    Unusual weather patterns are wreaking havoc on Florida’s manatee population, with recorded deaths from cold stress increasing rapidly in recent years.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12087311

  39. Colorado Bob says:

    Here’s the Weather underground page for Greenland, remember it’s dark there, on it’s way to the dead of winter.

    Narsarsuaq, Greenland

    Currently 41F -

    http://www.wunderground.com/global/stations/04270.html

    The high Sat is forecast 59F in the dark on the first day of 2011.

  40. Prokaryotes says:

    Paris To Test Banning Gas-Guzzlers (Yes, SUVs!) In City Core

    Why are many European carmakers now planning to build electric vehicles? Because many European cities are widely expected to ban high-emissions vehicles from their city cores

    http://www.greencarreports.com/blog/1052945_paris-to-test-banning-gas-guzzlers-ye

    This should be mandatory w o r l d w i d e.

  41. Colorado Bob says:

    Anybody know anything about the “urban heat island effect ” in Greenland ?

  42. Colorado Bob says:

    Narsarsuaq, Greenland …… 60 degrees north , southwestern tip of Greenland 9 stations in the area. 4 are reporting 40F plus , one is below freezing at 28F.

    Rest of the week :
    Wed.
    52F /49F

    Thur.
    59F ? 37F

    Fri.
    55F / 42F

    Sat.
    59F / 41F

  43. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I think that Krugman is incorrect on two counts. First the vast sums of money created by ‘Helicopter’ Ben Bernanke are, indeed, sloshing around the world looking for easy profits. Market fundamentalist capitalism is precisely that type of system that will not only countenance speculators driving up the price of food commodities in search of profit, leaving hundreds of millions mired yet deeper in malnourishment, but will reward these miscreants with huge and larcenous salaries and bonuses. And if he really thinks that there is no chance of a calamitous and abrupt collapse, then he’s dreaming. Another year or two of climate disruption like we saw this year, or worse, and food riots will spread, regimes will topple and wars will break out. From there the descent becomes self-propagating, like an avalanche. Apres moi, le deluge, which has already arrived in Pakistan, Colombia, Venezuela, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Queensland where they’ve never seen its like before. Unfortunately they will just have to get used to seeing it.

  44. Some European says:

    @Colorado Bob, 41
    The average daily maximum temperature for this date in Narsarsuaq is 14F, so they’ll be 45F above average. Just do the math for whereever you live. Where I live, in Brussels, the average temp for this date is 36F, so I try to imagine what 81F would feel like on new year’s eve.
    I know, in some places temperature fluctuations can be more extreme than in others, but still it’s pretty cool to do the exercise.

    I’m changing my bumper sticker suggestion from Hudson Bay Tropical Beach Resort to Narsarsuaq Greenland Tropical Beach Resort.
    There’s even an airport, which of course, together with all the airco, explains the urban heat island effect for that location.

    Anyone here remember the Pentagon Report about abrupt climate change?

  45. Mike says:

    #45 Colorado Bob asked: “Anybody know anything about the “urban heat island effect ” in Greenland ?”

    This will be come an important issue as millions of refuges from South Asia are relocated there.