Tuesday, August 16, 2016

NC20 Burton a glimpse of reality sir.

I still have a number of drafts of responses to various Dave NC20 Burton arguments laying around unfinished.  But it's lost its interest and other things are going on.  He's likewise lost interest in our debate and stepped out the backdoor.  But, I do want to give him an official good-bye (barring interesting developments).  I'm even going to keep my opinions to myself and allow an oceanographer to explain what the real world looks like.

NC20 I challenge you to point out flaws or misinformation in the following from John Englander.   Bet you can't do it.  

Til the next time.   ;- )
Deadly floods - Maryland to China - have surprising connection to rising sea level

By John Englander | August 4, 2016
Risks and Impacts of Rising Sea Level blog

Last Saturday night when many had planned a nice evening out for dinner in quaint Ellicott City, a devastating flood occurred, largely destroying the downtown. Six inches of rain in just two hours caused the record water mark in that historic Maryland community.

Flash floods, monsoon rains, and rivers overflowing their banks are becoming common headlines.  Ellicott City joins the rapidly growing list of deadly deluge that in the last month spans West Virginia, Texas, France, Germany and China. All of these inland floods resulted from extreme rainfall. 

This surge of inland flooding would seem to be quite different than the coastal flooding resulting from storms, extreme tides, and rising sea level, yet surprisingly they share the same underlying cause.

Unusual flooding from extraordinary rains results from two things. First, the warming oceans mean more evaporation, putting more moisture in the atmosphere. That excess moisture has to come out as either rain or snow, depending on the local temperature.

The oceans keep warming following the increase in level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.  Globally the sea temperature is roughly one and a half degrees Fahrenheit (almost one degree Celsius) warmer than a century ago.

As the oceans warm and the polar ice cap (around the north pole) melts, major air currents like the Jet Stream, change location. Recall the so-called polar vortex that brought excess snow to mid-Atlantic areas of the U.S. in recent years.

It is the combination of more moisture in the air, and the changing ocean and atmospheric currents that are causing these extreme rainfall events and flooding which defy good prediction. While weather forecasting has been getting much more accurate, the higher heat levels, the greater moisture and evaporation, and changing ocean and atmospheric currents challenge even the best models because we are in unfamiliar territory. The overall heat level of the oceans and atmosphere have not been this high for more than a hundred thousand years.

Higher sea level primarily results from the same warmer global temperature, causing the glaciers and ice sheets on land to melt. 

Though still only a modest rate, the melting is accelerating. From our measurements in Greenland and Antarctica we know that sea level rise will get worse throughout this century. In fact the last few years of record heat in the polar regions worries scientists that the collapse of the glaciers may be stepping up to a new level, which will in turn affect sea level all over the world. Thus extreme rainfalls and rising sea levels result from the same underlying cause or force: the warming sea. ...
... As I explained in a blog post at the time, those accords can greatly help to limit the future warming and the potential catastrophe, but unfortunately we have passed a tipping point in terms long-term weather patterns, better known as climate.


To learn the lessons of the record levels of inland and coastal flooding, we need to understand three related but separate concepts:

1 Weird weather will continue far into the future, breaking out of all the patterns that we have come to expect for generations. Wherever possible we should anticipate and design for extreme heat, temporary floods, as well as drought – with all the related effects of more fires, effects on agriculture, etc.

2 Sea level is special because it defines the shorelines – the land areas—not only on the coasts, but also through marshlands and up tidal rivers. Sea level rise is now unstoppable and will cause essentially permanent change worldwide. We can design for it and must start that process immediately. It is not an option. The rising sea does not care about laws, politics, or opinions. It is already rising and causing “nuisance flooding” with the regular peak tides in communities worldwide, but this is just the beginning.

3 We must reduce the level of warming, caused by the rising level of greenhouse gases ASAP. Carbon dioxide is a key factor. Historically the level of CO2 ranged from 180-280 parts per million (ppm). It is now over 400 ppm and rising steeply. We need to enact policies that reduce the emissions as a most urgent priority, yet recognize that it is not possible for that to stop the disastrous changes to weather patterns and rising sea level in the next few decades

I thank John Englander for his permission to repost this article.

John Englander wrote a well-time book on the topic:  
High Tide On Main Street

Supporting evidence

2015 State of U.S. “Nuisance” Tidal Flooding
William V. Sweet and John J. Marra

High tide flooding, measured locally by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide gauges, is described as “nuisance”, “sunny-day” and “recurrent”. Such minor flooding is increasingly common with little or no storm effects (Sweet et al., 2014). Impacts include degraded storm water systems, infiltration into waste-water systems, contamination of fresh water supplies and salt-water flooding of roads, homes and businesses; tidal flooding is disrupting commerce and ways of life. During 2015, there was extensive reporting of tidal flooding impacting cites in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and California to name a few.

Tidal flooding is increasing in frequency within U.S. coastal communities due to sea level rise (SLR) from climate change and local land subsidence. Tidal flooding is further exacerbated by climate variability of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). 

Decades ago powerful storms caused such impacts, but due to SLR, more common events are now more impactful. Event frequencies are increasing rapidly – two to three times or more frequent than just 20 years ago (Table 1). 

Annual tidal flood rates have entered a sustained acceleration phase at many locations (Sweet and Park, 2014) as the annual distribution of daily highest tides steadily surpasses “fixed” elevations. Thus, once flooding becomes problematic, impacts will become chronic rather quickly and communities should plan for this eventuality. …  link


2014 State of Nuisance Tidal Flooding


Seven Coastal Cities Break Record for Number of Nuisance Flooding Days Due to El Niño

Road closures, backed up and overflowing storm drains, bad beach days, damaged properties and loss of shoreline. All of these things increased in 2015 due to nuisance flooding, according to a NOAA report released Wednesday.  

Wilmington, North Carolina, had 90 of these such days -- one in four days of 2015 had flooding not related to the weather. These all occurred when the skies were blue, and they are all linked to El Niño.

{It is a shame that this report didn’t acknowledge the other ingredient “rising sea levels” upon which this El Nino bulge rides.  But, considering all the intimidation from climate science haters, perhaps it's understandable.}

Cities with the most forecast nuisance flooding in 2016: 
Annapolis, Maryland: 47 days
Wilmington, North Carolina: 42 days
Washington, D.C.: 30 days
Charleston, South Carolina: 27 days
Atlantic City and Sandy Hook, New Jersey: 26 days
Less than 10 days of nuisance flooding is forecast for the West Coast. 

Rising Seas - John Englander

American Planning Association  |  Published on Apr 14, 2016

Closing keynote address by Oceanographer and author of "High Tide on Main Street", John Englander at the 2016 National Planning Conference in Phoenix. Introduction by Carol Rhea, FAICP, President of the American Planning Association


IanR said...

Dear Sir, I always read your posts and thank you for my continuing education on all matters climatic. My only gripe is that you give too much homework with your supporting links and I sometimes do not complete my assignments! I don't know where you find the time. Anyway, please keep up the great work.

citizenschallenge said...


Thanks. I appreciate that. Nice to know some of this is getting around.