19 June 2009

Greetings from the Cool Oregon Coast

Posted by Dan Satterfield

The American meteorological Society is having it’s Broadcast Meteorology Conference in Portland next week. There is a short course on Climate Change on Sunday and I was asked to present by Bud Ward, of the Yale Climate and Media Forum. Since this part of the world is one of my favourites, I took the opportunity for a MUCH NEEDED break, and took some holiday time along with the conference.

View From Ecola St. Park Near Cannon Beach, OR  (Dans pic)

View Thursday, from Ecola St. Park Near Cannon Beach, OR (Dan's pic)

So that explains the title and the fact that I am typing this with the sound of Pacific Ocean tide coming in, coming through an open window. This has also been a day to try out my Fathers Day present of a new Canon DSLR.

My only real hobby other than weather/Earth Science, is photography. I am actually not very good. My wife has a much better eye for composition, but she never reads the manual for the cameras. I memorize the manual. Guess who takes the better pics! Yea, she does…(You can always tell our pics apart- mine have more clouds in them!)

I rode a bicycle down the Oregon Coast in the Summer of 1977, and it’s one of my fondest memories. Cannon Beach was a sleepy town then, but the developers moved in long ago… sigh..

I read the other day somewhere that “Growth for the sake of growth is the mantra of a cancer cell.” I think Bobby Kennedy said that. Oregon is a very Green state, literally, and figuratively, so the coast is still beautiful in spite of a few billboards touting helicopter rides around Seaside.Picture 4

Picture 9Back to the climate conference.

It comes along just after the release of the U.S. Global Change report that was the subject of my last post. There were a few graphics in this report that are rather alarming. The drop in precipitation over the West and the Plains is drastic.

There seems to be growing evidence that this has already begun in earnest. Have you seen Lake Mead and it’s now famous bathtub ring? There is not enough water in Nevada, for Las Vegas to double in size again, no matter that politician say there is. Unless of course, you take it from someone else.

There has been some great science in the last 15 years showing that mega droughts are common in the West, even without climate change. The water allotments in place now were based on flows through the Colorado River in it’s wettest decades, not the average, and not the driest. They just didn’t know it at the time!

They know it now.

Even if Climate change was not arriving (and it is, believe me) the West was facing it’s day of judgment. Climate change is just going to speed it up, and make it much, much worse. The graphics below speak for themselves. This report is the first time that Climate experts have been able to publicly predict regional scenarios. The methods to do this have been developed largely in the last 10 years, and I have had the pleasure of talking with some of the scientist who have done it.

The two images above on this page are from the U.S. Global Change report. You should look at it.


Lake Mead is showing signs of continuing drought. (from NASA)

My Grandmother clearly remembers wetting sheets and hanging them over the windows to keep out the dust bowl in the 1930’s. She said they would be dripping with mud in an hour. Oklahoma may see that return in spades, if we don’t figure out how to drastically slow the amount of fossil fuels we burn.

The residents of the western USA had better hope they”re wrong. I seriously doubt they are though. Unlike the junk I recently got from the Heartland Institute, this is peer reviewed science..