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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blame it on La Niña

Posted by Dawn-Ann on June 26, 2011

When I was growing up in northern British Columbia, meteorology was actually one of the “Nature Girl” type interests I held. I paid attention to weather patterns and cloud formations and tried to learn how to predict what the weather was going to do.

I wasn’t terribly good at it, but I did learn a lot.

Recent flooding in northern BC and Alberta, including my hometown of Dawson Creek, and enduring a very long, cool, wet spring in Calgary got me wondering if La Niña was at work. Sure enough, a quick Google search (gotta love modern technology!) showed she was.

The La Niña weather pattern starts when colder than normal water pools along the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Effects are felt in a shifting jet stream and changing high/low pressure areas. She can create cooler than normal winters with lots of snow along the west coast, higher tornado and hurricane counts, and hot, dry temps in the southern United States.

La Niña is probably responsible for all the freakish weather we’ve had this year. Thankfully, she doesn’t usually last more than a couple of years, although there have been longer episodes.

This video explains a little more about La Niña and is worth watching for the quaint hillbilly accent of the narrator alone! :)

Squirrels in Calgary

Posted by Dawn-Ann on February 12, 2011

I turned around just now and glanced out my office window and did a double take. There, on the stucco of the neighbor’s house, were two squirrels enjoying the sunshine and each other. Enjoy this brief little hint of spring to come. Some day…

Nature Girl

Posted by Dawn-Ann on July 21, 2010

I was riding home on the train today and I realized, “I’m a Nature Girl still.” You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.

I noticed that my eyes still automatically drift to the clouds. The trees. The birds.

That is all.

Montana sunrise (click to see larger image)

The new ice age cometh

Posted by Dawn-Ann on June 6, 2009

It’s snowing today in Calgary. Yes, in June. And while it’s true Calgary has seen snow in each month of the year (sometimes all 12 months of a single year), it took me by surprise and got me thinking.

My poor little tomatoes. Temps didn't get to freezing so I'm hoping they'll be okay.

My poor little tomatoes. Temps didn't get to freezing so I'm hoping they'll be okay.

I’d heard rumours about a coming ice age and the last couple of winters and springs have definitely reminded me more of the ones I experienced growing up in northern British Columbia. So I performed a quick Google search and did find that folks are talking about it.

Climate and temperatures go through long cycles of heating and cooling (with or without man’s CO2 emissions) and ice ages are more the norm. Between ice ages the planet often experiences brief periods of “interglacial” time, where temperatures are balmy and warm. They are usually relatively short-lived and have been known to get much warmer than what we have recently been experiencing. Then the cold and snow starts to settle back in.

Five hundred million years ago, carbon dioxide concentrations were over 13 times current levels; and not until about 20 million years ago did carbon dioxide levels dropped to a little less than twice what they are today.

It is possible that moderately increased carbon dioxide concentrations could extend the current interglacial period. But we have not reached the level required yet, nor do we know the optimum level to reach. 
[Source: The Coming of a New Ice Age]

The question is not if we’ll be plunged into another ice age, but when. Thankfully, these long cycles take tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years to run their course. No point in migrating to warmer climes just yet. Well, unless you want to.