Persistent La Niña Is Back Again — And Driving Up Food Prices

By Stephen Leahy *

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Oct 11, 2011 (Tierramérica)

La Niña is back less than three months after the end of its last appearance, a particularly strong event that contributed to driving up global food prices.

The new La Niña will continue the largely dry conditions in important agricultural regions in Brazil and Argentina as well as the southern United States and hurt yields of soy and wheat, experts say.

“Multi-year La Niñas are not uncommon,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder and director of meteorology for Weather Underground, the web’s first commercial weather service.

“The last was between 1998 to 2001 with a few months of neutral conditions like this year,” Masters told Tierramérica.

La Niña and El Niño are, respectively, the cold and warm phases of the famous El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a cyclical climate phenomenon that affects weather patterns around the world.

ENSO is part of the system that regulates heat in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean and is driven by changes in surface ocean temperature and air pressure.

“ENSO is undoubtedly being affected by climate change,” said Masters.  Continue reading

Inheriting the Whirlwind of Extreme Events

This article looks at the huge upswing in extreme events around the world. Imagine this: the worst-ever tornado season, the worst flooding, and worst heatwave  have hit the US this year. And they may yet experience one the worst hurricane seasons. “24 Hours of Reality” online broadcast documented this Sept 15 to help people clear their heads of the fossil fuel propaganda and open their eyes to the crisis we are facing.  — Stephen

There are four anti-climate change lobbyists in Washington for every member of Congress.”

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 15, 2011 (IPS)

The dramatic increase in extreme weather that has affected hundreds of millions across the planet is one of the clearest signs that burning billions of tonnes fossil fuels has seriously and permanently disrupted the global climate, experts say.

That is the reality former U.S. vice president Al Gore is focusing on Thursday through an unprecedented live online event called “24 Hours of Reality” broadcast from 24 time zones and reaching millions of viewers in multiple languages.

“In 30 years of weather forecasting I have never seen extreme weather events like those in the last two years globally,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder and Director of Meteorology for Weather Underground, the web’s first commercial weather service.

“I never thought we could have the greatest outbreak of tornados, the worst-ever flooding, record heatwaves and droughts all in one year,” Masters told IPS at a press conference last week in reference to the multi-billion-dollar extreme weather the U.S. has endured this year.

“The hurricane season is only half over and is on pace to be a record year as well,” he said.

Masters and other climate experts say is the “new normal” for the coming decades is the reason why. Burning of oil, gas, coal puts billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it traps more of the sun’s heat in what is known as the greenhouse effect.

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That additional heat warms the oceans and air and allows more moisture to be retained in the atmosphere, scientists have long since proven. The enormous amounts of additional heat and moisture now trapped in the atmosphere are the potent fuel for extreme events.

“More than 1,400 high temperature records were broken in July in the eastern U.S.,” said Jerry Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Continue reading