Sunday, August 14, 2022

A Dim Fictional Climate Future Turns Non-Fiction: The Flooding of Los Angeles - NYT

Hey, all you anti-abortionists and climate deniers --- if unborn fetuses are protected how about protecting future fetuses over the next hundreds of years?
 
I'm a big fan of Kim Stanley Robinson sci-fi. The Mars trilogy, as in most of his books, deals with things that are theoretically possible based on understood science. They are long books and at times suffer from over information.
 
I am currently reading the latest, the very scary Ministry For the Future.   

The book follows an international organization named the Ministry for the Future in its mission to act as an advocate for the world's future generations of citizens as if their rights were as valid as the present generation's. Beginning in 2025...
 
 Yesterday I came to a section about a massive rainstorm in California that totally flooded the entire Los Angeles basin and the description of how it happened is echoed by a major story in today's NY Times where fact echoes fiction - the chances of this happening now stand at 1 in 50. Another degree rise and it becomes 1 in 30. 

In this context, the new climate bill looks pitiful especially when you delve into the details -- which I will do later or tomorrow.

Here is the frightening NY Times piece and of course the right wing will say the science there is made up.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/08/12/climate/california-rain-storm.html
Even the West Coast woke are not woke enough:
Such perils had lurked at Oroville for so long because California’s Department of Water Resources had been “overconfident and complacent” about its infrastructure, tending to react to problems rather than pre-empt them, independent investigators later wrote in a report. It is not clear this culture is changing, even as the 21st-century climate threatens to test the state’s aging dams in new ways. One recent study estimated that climate change had boosted precipitation from the 2017 storms at Oroville by up to 15 percent. 
 

 

Yet California officials have downplayed these concerns about the capacity of Oroville’s emergency spillway, which were raised by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Such extreme flows are a “remote” possibility, they argued in a letter last year. Therefore, further upgrades at Oroville aren’t urgently needed.

In a curt reply last month, the commission said this position was “not acceptable.” It gave the state until mid-September to submit a plan for addressing the issue.

His findings, from 1982, showed that major floods hadn’t been exceptionally rare occurrences over the past eight centuries. They took place every 100 to 200 years. And in the decades since, advancements in modeling have helped scientists evaluate how quickly the risks are rising because of climate change.

For their new study, which was published in the journal Science Advances, Dr. Huang and Dr. Swain replayed portions of the 20th and 21st centuries using 40 simulations of the global climate. Extreme weather events, by definition, don’t occur very often. So by using computer models to create realistic alternate histories of the past, present and future climate, scientists can study a longer record of events than the real world offers.

Dr. Swain and Dr. Huang looked at all the monthlong California storms that took place during two time segments in the simulations, one in the recent past and the other in a future with high global warming, and chose one of the most intense events from each period. They then used a weather model to produce detailed play-by-plays of where and when the storms dump their water.

Those details matter. There are “so many different factors” that make an atmospheric river deadly or benign, Dr. Huang said. 

In the high Sierras, for example, atmospheric rivers today largely bring snow. But higher temperatures are shifting the balance toward rain. Some of this rain can fall on snowpack that accumulated earlier, melting it and sending even more water toward towns and cities below.  


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