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August 15, 2010 11:42 AM   Subscribe

How are heatwaves in Russia and flooding in Pakistan related? Both result from a kink in the jet stream that has frozen in place. (Previous coverage of the disasters in Russia and Pakistan on the blue.)
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (19 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Conservatives were right. Kinks will be the death of us.
posted by The Whelk at 11:49 AM on August 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I say we build a giant microwave as tribute to the great and terrible jet stream gods and sacrifice "defrost" the Davies brothers inside.
posted by griphus at 12:22 PM on August 15, 2010


Bora Horza Gobuchel that is a great post. The comments on that blog post are atrocious, though. Perhaps metafilter can do better!
posted by bukvich at 12:44 PM on August 15, 2010


Stott et al. (2004) found it very likely (>90% chance) that human-caused climate change has at least doubled the risk of severe heat waves like the great 2003 European heat wave.

Anyone care to guess how much time we have left before things start getting seriously fucked? The talk used to be that global warming would maybe cause serious issues by 2100. Recent news makes it look seriously optimistic that our game of 10-dimensional russian roulette with the earth will last that long
posted by crayz at 12:44 PM on August 15, 2010


Conservatives were right. Kinks will be the death of us.

Except that the heat wave in Russia is a bonanza for American wheat farmers. Why do you want to bring down our standard of living to save a bunch of commies? USA! USA! USA! (and Canada too...)
posted by ennui.bz at 1:07 PM on August 15, 2010


Both result from a "kink" in the jet stream..

..which is a result of higher sea surface temps.. which is a result of higher global temperatures.
posted by stbalbach at 1:45 PM on August 15, 2010


Anyone care to guess how much time we have left before things start getting seriously fucked?

Floods and heatwave-caused wildfires are pretty damn serious for the people in those areas. Do you mean when will this kind of thing be happening all over the place all the time? That'll be a long time. The point where it's happening more and more each year? A while ago.
posted by aubilenon at 1:54 PM on August 15, 2010




Recent news makes it look seriously optimistic that our game of 10-dimensional russian roulette with the earth will last that long

Except the only scientist in the links willing to make even a qualified casual claim for the new scientist to use pointed to these particular blocking issues being correlated with solar activity lows and while humanity has awesome powers for self destructive behavior our entire nuclear arsenal for example wouldn't even being a squeaky fart for the sun. Which is to say that in this instance the disaster is quite probably not a man-made one.

Now this may be some post-climate gate hesitancy but I doubt it.
posted by srboisvert at 2:02 PM on August 15, 2010


...on the other hand, the New Scientist article also says it might be correlated with solar activity - which has nothing to do with global warming. Something tells me that will get less press, though.
posted by vacapinta at 2:03 PM on August 15, 2010


We are so fucked. We don't even know how much we've screwed things up, much less have any viable means to correct it. We have a high confidence that more co2 is bad. We have no idea though how to viably reduce co2 output per capita, much less sequester large amounts already up there. We rant even sure how far to bring it down, Other schemes for geoengineering are at the stage of wild ass guess. In conclusion pray for the scientific miracle, just like your red state cousins. It is the only hope.
posted by humanfont at 2:32 PM on August 15, 2010


It's still cold here in Wyoming. Suckers!
posted by elder18 at 2:45 PM on August 15, 2010


Wasn't it just 6 months ago that they were saying the jet streams was causing all the record-breaking, extreme east coast snowstorms here in the US?
posted by crunchland at 4:01 PM on August 15, 2010


...on the other hand, the New Scientist article also says it might be correlated with solar activity - which has nothing to do with global warming. Something tells me that will get less press, though.

We often talk more about potentially important things than potentially unimportant things
posted by crayz at 4:05 PM on August 15, 2010


stbalbach wrote: "..which is a result of higher sea surface temps.. which is a result of higher global temperatures."

Not to worry! Sea surface temperatures haven't actually gone up! It's all due to a broken satellite and a vast conspiracy!

And for those of you who believe in this climategate dreck, I'm joking.

More seriously, I doubt it's a direct effect of global warming or the increase in sea surface temperatures. It's a combination of various oscillations like the NAO, PDO, and El Nino/La Nina, among others. They're in an unusual setup right now and are being unusually persistent at it. That persistence in the pattern may or may not be partially attributable to an overall increase in sea surface temperatures.

Where's our resident weather gal when we need her?
posted by wierdo at 4:12 PM on August 15, 2010


*slight derail*

Hey, Jeff Masters! I used to work with/for him when I had just graduated from college and got a job with the Weather Underground years and years ago. He was a pretty neat guy- He had lots of cool footage from FLYING AIRPLANES INTO HURRICANES. I designed a CD-ROM for K-12 students to use to predict hurricane landfall. Working at the WU was about the first point that I started to realize just how serious climate change was, and it made me glad I was doing something to help kids maybe understand it as well.
posted by 40 Watt at 5:17 PM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


The "highly unusual kink" that Masters mentions in the first link is known as an omega block because the jet stream is bent into the shape of the Greek letter. Omega blocks are fairly common. The big (Rossby) waves of the jet stream generally move slowly eastward, but sometimes those waves get large enough that the translational energy of the jet isn't enough to move the wave. As a result everything temporarily gets stuck. Why the blocks form is an active area of research - suffice it to say there is no single mechanism. Omega blocks usually last from a few days to a couple of weeks. What distinguishes this recent occurrence was that it lasted about a month.

This was touched on in the New Scientist article, but there's currently no way of knowing whether the recent omega block is a result of global warming, or if the frequency, extent or strength of omega blocks will change in response to a warming climate. The spatial resolution of climate models is much coarser than that of weather models and omega blocks are going to be invisible to the former.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:58 PM on August 15, 2010


What a great name, "Omega Block". All unusual weather patterns should have sinister names. Maybe it will help people realize this shit's serious.
posted by ryanrs at 12:11 AM on August 16, 2010


Except that the heat wave in Russia is a bonanza for American wheat farmers

Well, maybe, maybe not.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:57 AM on August 16, 2010


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