March 12 News: NOAA Reports Warm Winter Saw Wet Areas Get Wetter, Dry Areas Drier

NOAA released data on Monday that the last winter was warmer and wetter than average. [USA Today]

The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during the winter season was 34.3 degrees, which is 1.9 degrees above the 20th-century average, marking the 20th-warmest winter on record, NOAA reported.

As for precipitation, while the Southeast and upper Midwest were wetter than average, much of the West was quite dry, especially in January and February, contributing to below-average snowpack in the Sierra and Rockies.

“Drought conditions continued to plague much of the Great Plains and West,” according to the NOAA report.

Everything was warmer, dry areas got drier, wet areas got wetter. This helpful infographic helps demonstrate significant winter climate events. Silver lining? U.S. customers used less energy during the mild winter.

Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget will say that building the Keystone XL pipeline will create thousands of jobs (which it won’t) and that “the administration is buying up land to prevent further development” (though it’s not). [Wall Street Journal]

President Obama heads to Capitol Hill this week, and is likely to talk about using royalty revenues from oil and gas production to set up an “Energy Security” trust fund. [The Hill]

Rep. Henry Waxman writes about how the House Energy and Commerce Committee has been MIA on climate change. [The Hill]

Global clean energy markets are on track to double within the decade. [Clean Technica]

Gas prices are rising despite a big increase in petroleum production. [Energy Collective]

South Florida’s coral and algae populations are declining due to climate change, threatening the local tourism and fishing industries. [WLRN]

Thanks to the rise of wind power assisted by government subsidized, nuclear power is being squeezed out of the U.S. market even as reliance on coal goes down. [Bloomberg]

Global warming is allowing evergreen trees and shrubs to move into areas that were perpetual tundra for most of the 20th Century. [Discover]

23 Responses to March 12 News: NOAA Reports Warm Winter Saw Wet Areas Get Wetter, Dry Areas Drier

  1. Joan Savage says:

    Japan extracts gas from methane hydrate in world first

  2. Kota says:

    Anyone have a take on this? It would be SO great if this could be carbon capture by herd coupled with kicking out fossil fuels. It’s the first ‘glimmer’ of hope I’ve seen for naturally getting the carbon back out of the atmosphere on a macro scale. (If we could stop putting up there faster)

  3. Sasparilla says:

    Ugh…they would love to have some exploitable local fossil fuel resource (and other than the CO2 problem, which is the problem, I can’t blame them for wanting one).

    I suppose we should expect the money to try to figure out and probably be successful (based on the past 20 years of fossil fuel exploitation history) how to “mine” the clathrates.

  4. Spike says:

    The changes in the Northern hemisphere biosphere with climate change show reduced seasonality:

  5. Joan Savage says:

    Nature Climate Change on line published “Temperature and vegetation seasonality diminishment over northern lands” on March 10.

    In John Metcalfe’s review for Atlantic Cities (“Climate Change Is Making Canada Look More Like the United States” 3/12/13), he quotes a lead author, Dr. Chapin:

    “Arctic plant growth during the early 1980s reference period equaled that of lands north of 64 degrees north. Today, just 30 years later, it equals that of lands above 57 degrees north – a reduction in vegetation seasonality of about seven degrees south in latitude,” says co-author Prof. Terry Chapin, Professor Emeritus, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The change equates to a distance of approximately 480 miles southward.

    The Nature Climate Change article abstract itself puts that trend another way:
    “…4° and 7° (5° and 6°) latitudinal shift equatorward during the past 30 years in the Arctic (boreal) region.”

  6. Joan Savage says:

    Spike that is awesome.

    Spike’s link is to the complete Nature Climate Change article that I was referring to in the following comment.

  7. Sasparilla says:

    This was from the article on the trouble Nuclear Power Operators are having (their pricing is being undercut by Wind and Natural Gas to the point that some will have to start closing – and being replaced with natural gas & wind)….but there was this nugget in there:

    “as part of January’s deficit deal, extended the production tax credit through Dec. 31, amending current law so that projects begun this year will receive the 10-year tax break regardless of when they come online.”

    So new Wind Projects if they are started this year will get the tax credit no matter when they finish….I was thinking another year of the tax credit, big deal (you can’t plan and build a wind farm in a summer), but this is really significant…should be off to the races for Wind for another couple of years.

  8. M Tucker says:

    I do not trust the Bloomberg analysis. Natural gas is rising fast and I would expect it to remain dominate in power generation for quite some time to come. Even Japan is importing natural gas.

    “According to newly released data from the Energy Information Administration, about 140 terrawatt-hours of our electricity — enough to power over 12 million homes — came from wind power last year, up about 17 percent from 2011. But overall, wind power contributed only about 3.5 percent of all the electricity generated in the U.S. last year, up from 2.9 percent of the share in 2011.

    For perspective, that number pales when compared to the blistering growth of natural gas, which produced 10 times more new electricity last year than wind power. In 2012, nearly a third of our electricity came from natural gas, which was a 21 percent increase from 2011.

    In addition, there is reason to believe 2012’s record growth in wind energy capacity isn’t something we’re going to see again soon.

    Last year, developers rushed to build new wind power capacity largely because a federal tax credit was set to expire at the end of the year. That credit gave wind farm operators a rebate for each kilowatt-hour of electricity generated via wind power. That rebate helped keep the price of wind power competitive with more traditional forms of electricity, but in order to qualify, those wind farms needed to be constructed before Dec. 31, 2012. The future of that tax credit remained uncertain throughout last year, so developers rushed to complete as many projects as they could. The cumulative effect created more new wind power than ever before.

    As it turns out, the tax credit was renewed for another year as part of the “fiscal cliff package,” but there aren’t many new projects in the pipeline and 2013 is likely to be slow for the wind industry.”
    (from Climate Central)

  9. Sasparilla says:

    Here it is in the NY Times:

    “An Energy Coup for Japan: ‘Flammable Ice’”

    A little tidbit from the article:

    ““Japan could finally have an energy source to call its own,” said Takami Kawamoto, a spokesman for the Japan Oil, Gas & Metals National Corp., or Jogmec, the state-run company leading the trial extraction.

    The team will continue the trial extraction for about two weeks before analyzing how much gas has been produced, Jogmec said. Japan hopes to make the extraction technology commercially viable in about five years.”

  10. Sasparilla says:

    I agree – it’s probably nearly all being done in by natural gas.

    One interesting note about the tax credit – it was changed slightly – so that the credit is available to any wind project that starts this year – doesn’t matter when it finishes.

    I don’t know what defines “starts”, but it definitely means we’ll probably get another couple of good years out of Wind.

  11. Merrelyn Emery says:

    He claims to have tested it in Australia but is contradicted by 200 years of evidence that hooved animals damage Australia’s fragile, weathered soils. We had no native animals with hooves. The land has also suffered terribly from over grazing when drought strikes suddenly. There is also the small matter of methane emissions, ME

  12. Merrelyn Emery says:

    The Australian Federal Minister for the Environment finally gave into public pressure and persistent lobbying from a rural Independent member and amended the criteria for CSG approvals to include effects on water. Shame so many had been approved already, ME

  13. Paul Magnus says:

    Hey CP… I cant believe you havent run with a main posting on the NYT decision to back rejection on the pipeline yet. This is a huge leverage mechanism and they aught to get a loud pat on the back.

    I think it might have had something to do with giving our leader in opposition the courage to head south to tell Obama to reject the KXL….

    “He said he agreed with a New York Times editorial published Monday that called on U.S. President Barack Obama to kill the Keystone XL pipeline project because “a president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that — even by the State Department’s most cautious calculations — can only add to the problem.”

  14. Paul Magnus says:

    Mulcair said his visit to the U.S. has been planned for months and his main intention was to introduce himself to Americans as the man who in 2015 could become Canada’s prime minister.

  15. Paul Magnus says:

    There is Direct Action successfully happening in Auz. Their techniques are impressive and aught to be replicated across the board and the globe. Yeeha.

  16. Lollipop says:

    I was just popping over to post this news. Bad news for the climate. Potentially, very bad.

  17. Merrelyn Emery says:

    It was pioneered years ago to save the Franklin river and old growth forests in Tasmania. Just wish we could get the whitefella WA citizens to realize they are destroying the joint. The only ones who appear to be fighting are those opposing the gas installation at James Price Point which is going to do massive damage to a whale nursery, ME

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    That’s the clincher, ME. As the Greens noted, the Minister Against the Environment only approved this measure once the damage was done. No doubt he also expects Abbott and his Merry Men to revoke this measure, as they seem certain to do with all environmental protection, following the UK, Canadian, US and state Rightwing regime examples.

  19. Camburn says:

    Allan’s work shows great promise. It has proven results which are amazing to observe.

    As in all things, he thought “out of the box” and empirically tested it with positive results.

  20. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Less damage than there could have been, thanks to the citizenry Mulga, but I know you must enjoy every little nugget of that dark outlook, ME

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Yes, yes, I know, ME. I’m an invertebrate pessimist, as Arthur Daley might have said. Your optimism is, indeed, preferable, but in the interests of chiaroscuro, and paying homage to the master of the art (to my mind, at least), old recidivist reprobate Caravaggio, let’s have some dark with our light. Of course, in the faery stories, the light always triumphs in the end, doesn’t it? I see through a glass, darkly, the glass being my mind, bent into an habitually grumpy mode by years of bitter disappointment at the follies, and crimes, of my species. I used to believe in human progress, you know, so I was once….naive, so to say. The cynics shall inherit the wind, and the stoics get to do the dishes!

  22. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Come down and have a look, ME