Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting After It

Here it is already Mid-August...the snow should start falling in just inside three months. It's hard during the Dog Days of Summer, to start fixating on the weather three months hence, but "forewarned is forearmed" a wordy somebody once said.

I usually start paying closer attention to the weathermen during Halloween Week. When the Sierra is acting "normal" there's a better than 50/50 chance that snowmaking temperatures have arrived in time for Interstate 80's Boreal Ridge to blow a small patch of ManMade snow. So come Halloween, no self-respecting Sacramento Valley TV News Director would dare miss a Live Remote from the Donner Summit hill, featuring ecstatic skiers and boarders...some in costume, mugging behind the Talking Head who's wearing a new parka replete with the Station, Summit and Truckee locals set their calendars by this show.

Donner Summit and Truckee Locals usually are well into their annual firewood program by then, and many Summit dwellers are already burning this year's stash to keep the chill out of the house overnight.

In Truckee, gardens are being put to bed, garages get the clean and organize weekend, so vehicles can fit back inside, without boxing in the snowblower and snow shovels. The last of the straggler campers and hunters have returned to their lowland homes, and the Mountain Folk have their little towns all to themselves again for a few weeks before the Holiday Rush begins in earnest.

Last season, Boreal made their patch of ManMade, but you know that thing about the best laid plans? There was a hot spell that ran several days, and the ground was bare come Halloween...I remember driving over the Summit that week, with the A/C blasting!

This was my life for the last 25+ years too, but I've been spending the last few summer/fall seasons down the hill east of the San Francisco Bay, in the Inland Valley where my youth was spent. My Mother lives here in her spacious Ranch Style with mature trees, near good schools and shopping.

Since my father passed away, I'm the new maintenance guy. I'm more than happy to do it, it's what I've always done summers, anyway...working with my hands, brandishing sharp tools, planning and performing upgrades, remodels, additions and, you get near-instant gratification doing these things!

Here at the Ancestral Digs, I get the added bonus of reliving some of my memories of learning much of my craft from my Dad...even working with some of the same tools that he taught me with. I'm more like him than I ever could have imagined when I was a know-it-all teenaged chuckle-head. I wish I had spent more time with him once I grew up a little, and he magically got a whole lot smarter and cooler!

I'm not going to miss those times with my Mom...before I head home for the season, I plan on teaching her to read CorduroyPlanet on her own computer...after I repair the back fence, the shade screens, update and automate the irrigation, and renew all the faucets, angle stops and water filters, of course!

After the Change
As the days get shorter, there will be more hours to spend boning-up on the Pacific Ocean's New Regime. I found a Paper on the PDO and the Ocean Heat Flow Correlation with Past Climate Anomalies, on Anthony Watts' excellent Climate Blog: Watts Up With That?

In short, the Pacific has "turned over" three times over the last half century, and these PDO regime changes match the climate changes that at the time, seemed "out of the norm" There's been an awful lot of noise about Global Warming, and man's hand in that warming lately...heck, we even have an ex-Vice President winning Emmys, Oscars and Nobel Prizes for his Inconvenient "Truth" telling.

I'm a pretty straight-ahead guy...I usually make up my mind, based on sound evidence, and put my head down and get on with it...damn the torpedoes. Global Warming IS real, after all our Earth HAS been trending warmer for almost Twelve Thousand Years! All that warming allowed the last Ice Age to end, Western Civilization to bloom, and Greenland to get the name a thousand years ago! Pretty heady stuff, wouldn't you say?

All during those 12K years, climate cycles have ebbed and flowed, leaving empirical evidence, for today's clever investigators to find, catalog, compile and analyze. Ice cores, Tree Rings, Sediment Cores and more are used as Proxy Indicators. I read a good overview of the Climate Proxy Indicators by Singer and Avery called "Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years" (The link points to the Updated volume, I read the Feb 2007 Edition)

One of those Warming Events, the Medieval Climate Optimum (c. 800-1300AD) ended the Dark Ages and kicked off the Renaissance, before giving way to "The Little Ice Age" The LIA generally lasted from the 16th century through the Mid-18th Century and includes three minima beginning about 1650, about 1770, and 1850. Did George Washington and the Continental Army have help from the climate crossing the Delaware River that Christmas Eve in 1776?
Looks like it to me.

Another piece of the Climate Puzzle is the "Maunder Minimum" a period of very little observed Solar Activity resulting in a dearth of sunspots. During one 30 year period of the Maunder Minimum, only 50 sunspots were observed by astronomers! In "normal" times there are usually 30,000 to 50,000 observed sunspots over 30 years! Yes, the Maunder Minimum coincided with the Little Ice Age.

Today's Solar Scientists are also seeing very, very few sunspots. Months pass without a single spot on our star...and satellite temperature data says: If you are 29 years old, there's been NO measured warming in your entire adult life! This month's "Sky and Telescope" magazine Cover Story is: "What's Wrong With the Sun?" We'll find out together over the next few years what this means, though I think it's safe to take our Hard Hats off now.

The Sky isn't gonna fall on us anytime can take that to the Bank!

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