The U.S. drought — it’s now expected to last till October

skeptic reversal  New study acknowledges the existence 
and the cause of global warming

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This issue’s article was going to be a look back at the weather across Alberta so far this summer, but Environment Canada seems to be having some significant difficulties with its online data feeds, as several Environment Canada stations either have no data available for the last month or two or are missing chunks of data.

Hey, I have an idea, let’s cut more funding to Environment Canada! Maybe that will light a fire under their butts to get things fixed and working properly!

Seriously, try running something like Environment Canada with less funding and staff than pretty much any single U.S. state, and see what happens. So maybe I should rely on personal weather stations or some of the ag weather sites?

While the data from most of these stations are usually fairly good and reliable, the problem is, they do not have any long-term records with which to compare the current data. As most of you know, changes in topography and land use can create surprisingly different microclimates, resulting in significant variation in data from one location to the next.

So I will wait and see if EC can resolve its data problems and instead, we’ll take a bit of global look at the weather.

The first big story is the U.S. heat wave centred over Oklahoma. This heat wave has slowly been erasing the historic heat records set back in the dust bowl of 1936. To get a bit of a feel for just how hot it has been down there, here are just a few examples. Oklahoma City broke its all-time record on Aug. 3, hitting a high of 45 C. The overnight low also broke the record for the warmest low, when the thermometer only dropped to 28.9 C. Oklahoma City has now recorded three days in a row with high temperatures greater than 44 C (112 F) which has never occurred before. To make matters worse, imagine 45 C temperatures, 12 per cent humidity, and winds gusting to 40 km/h — can you say fire hazard? If we take a wider view there are parts of Oklahoma that as of last week had seen 18 consecutive days with high temperatures equal to or greater than 37.8 C or 100 F.


Overall, the drought in the U.S. remained about the same during July, with about 62 per cent of the country covered by moderate or greater drought (second only to July of 1934 at 80 per cent) and 41 per cent of the U.S. is covered by severe or greater drought. The bad news for this region is that the drought is expected to extend until at least October. Quoting NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, “Unfortunately, the self-perpetuation of regional drought conditions, with very dry soils and very limited evapotranspiration, tends to inhibit widespread development of, or weaken existing thunderstorm complexes. It would require a dramatic shift in the weather pattern to provide significant relief to this drought, and most tools and models do not forecast this. Unfortunately, all indicators (short and medium term, August, and August-October) favour above-normal temperatures. With much of the Plains already in drought and getting worse, above-normal temperatures expected into the fall, and a dry short-term and 30-day forecast, the drought should persist, with some possible development in the northern Plains.”

Three hundred twenty-nine months in a row

Globally, the July numbers are not yet out, but it is looking very much like the Earth as a whole will have experienced the 329th consecutive month with global temperatures warmer than the 20th-century average. The last time the Earth experienced a cooler-than-average month was back in February 1985. Now that is one long warm streak!

For those of you who are still skeptical about global warming, a new study has just come out that was led by global warming skeptic scientist Dr. Richard Muller, and that was actually funded by the Charles G. Koch charitable foundation (which is mostly funded by the oil industry).

In this study known as BEST (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature) they examined the last 250 years’ worth of global temperature data. The group made it clear that it would present its findings with “full transparency” and the funding sources would not impact its results.

What it found was that the Earth has warmed 2.5 F over the past 250 years with 1.5 F coming in the last 50 years. It also reported that pretty much all of this increase is the result of the human emission of greenhouse gases.

In an excerpt from an article in the New York Times, Dr. Muller states: “Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”

About the author

AF Contributor

Daniel Bezte

Daniel Bezte is a teacher by profession with a BA (Hon.) in geography, specializing in climatology, from the University of Winnipeg. He operates a computerized weather station near Birds Hill Park, Manitoba.



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