Over the course of three days this week, unprecedented rains and early snowmelt combined to close Yellowstone National Park and change its landscape forever. Rivers in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming burst their banks.
The Park’s worst flood before those three days occurred in 1978. Experts called it a 1 in 100 years event. The US Geological Survey considered this month’s flooding to be a 1 in 500 years event.
Some forecasts see more precipitation in Yellowstone this weekend. Park administrators say they are watching the weather closely but park plans to rebuild ruined infrastructure are already underway. This time, however, they will take into account climate change.
The Greater Yellowstone Area includes parts of six major rivers: the Missouri, Upper Yellowstone, Big Horn, Upper Green, Snake Headwaters, and Upper Snake. It is one of the few remaining large and nearly intact temperate ecosystems on Earth. As the 2021 Greater Yellowstone Climate Assessment (GYCA) noted, climate change impacts on the area often push the bounds of historical trends. What happens in this area also impacts agricultural areas in the Northern High Plains.
Yellowstone Faces Major Climate Challenges
The 2021 GYCA predicted significant changes in precipitation timing and type. More spring rain and less winter snow are foreseen. Precipitation for June 2022 is already over 400% of normal in parts of the Yellowstone area.
The timing of peak streamflows have already changed. Water amounts have not changed significantly in most of the area but there have been increases in the Yellowstone, Gallatin, and Madison rivers. All are tributaries of the Missouri River.
The GYCA showed peak flows have shifted 1 to 15 days earlier, lengthening the hot season when water is limited. In some areas, spring flows have increased by 30 to 80 percent. For other areas, minimum flows have declined by 10 to 40 percent in the summer and winter.
In the Greater Yellowstone Area, potential evapotranspiration is less than precipitation on an annual basis. At lower elevations in summer, the reverse is true. This brings an increasing seasonal water deficit.
Snowpack Issues Are at the Heart of Water Flow Issues
Warming winters are bringing earlier snowmelt and a loss of snowpack across the West, including in Yellowstone. Warmer winters bring a longer growing season because of longer summers but reduce water availability. They also increase fire risks. Both snowpack and soil moisture impact stream flow. The amount of annual streamflow can vary by up to 300 percent between years because of all these factors.
With Headwaters in Yellowstone, the Missouri River Feeds Plains Agriculture
Yellowstone area climate change impacts the Missouri River headwaters and its tributaries. Some studies indicate that rainfall and water access are already changing in the Northern Great Plains and Central Midwest due to agricultural intensification. Models in the Fourth National Climate Assessment saw annual decreases of 30 days or more in the number of days with temperatures under 28 degrees by 2050. This would have serious implications for the region’s snowpack, streamflow, and water use.
Parts of the Northern Great Plains are among the most arid in the United States. Because they are far from the coasts, the Northern Great Plains’ climate is not modulated by the oceans. Extreme drought or extreme flooding tends to happen every ten years or so. With less than ten percent of regional precipitation reaching the Missouri River, large changes in flooding can be brought about by small changes in precipitation. A good example of the region’s unpredictable weather is the severe flooding of 2011. It was followed by a drought in 2012.
The Northern Great Plains
Yellowstone’s Changes Has Similarities/Differences to Dust Bowl Weather
Changes in peak streamflow timing since 1970 look similar to the peak timing during the 1930s Dust Bowl drought but the difference is that a year-round decline in precipitation caused the Dust Bowl. As the Greater Yellowstone Climate Assessment points out, the recent change in peak streamflow times is caused by spring temperatures rising sooner. Earlier spring warmth causes earlier snow melting.
Domestic crude oil, natural gas, and coal sources are limited within the EU. Some member states (i.e, Malta & Luxembourg) import up to 90% of their energy.
The EU is unlikely to simply switch supplying countries, thus leaving energy supplies outside their control again. However, European manufacturers and service suppliers must all contend with a new set of unknowns. A continuing conflict in Ukraine is bringing changes in supplies of components and raw materials. The war is impacting not only wheat supplies but also Europe’s supplies of computer chips. There are also potential costs in so quickly abandoning fossil fuels.
That said, what companies might benefit from this rapid push away from Russia and toward what must be a greener future?
Europe’s New Green Deal Firmly Back on Track (for Now)
Friday, EU leaders agreed to spend the next two months drafting proposals for weaning Europe from dependency on Russian fossil fuels. Leaders set a deadline of 2027 to make Europe more energy independent. The replacement fuels will come from national and European sources, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. EU climate policy chief, Frans Timmermans, stated that Europe could replace two-thirds Russian gas imports by the end of 2022
Coal and gas reserves vary wildly from country to country within the European Union. In 2020, EU production of primary energy was down by 17.7% from a decade before and 7.1% lower than in 2019. In the ten years up to 2020, European renewable energy use increased dramatically while uses of other sources declined. The EU’s recently agreed “Green New Deal” aims to make Europe carbon neutral by 2050. It included a €40bn fund to help coal-reliant regions, like Poland, move to cleaner alternatives
In addition to emphasizing renewable energy, the Green New Deal also mandates a 20% reduction in agricultural fertilizer use. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has helped send already high fertilizer prices soaring. Global fertilizer producer Yara recently reduced production at plants in Italy and France to 45% of capacity, citing rising gas prices. According to S&P Global Commodity Insights, Dutch natural gas prices have risen 1,100% from a year ago.
Which Companies May May Benefit From These Moves?
The EU’s Green New Deal focuses on transportation, energy production, agriculture sustainability, and improved energy efficiency in buildings. Some companies, like Baywa, work in several sectors that may see increased business because of Europe’s moves away from Russian energy reliance. Companies in energy production and transportation may be most likely to benefit quickly from the energy policy change.
Europe’s moves may not benefit nuclear power development, given rising concerns about potential accidents at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. Energy companies that could benefit include Brookfield Renewable (NYSE: BEP; TSX: BEP.UN) and Spain’s Iberdrola (OTC: IBDRY), one of the world’s largest renewable energy producers.
Another company that may benefit is Switzerland’s Meyer Burger Technology AG (OTC: MYBUF), which has a focus on solar cells and photovoltaic equipment. Germany’s Baywa (ETR: BYW6) has a focus on agriculture, renewable energy, and construction, all sectors which will be impacted by Europe’s move away from imported fuels. Baywa’s agrovoltaic development center is already working with farmers on pilot projects.
Companies providing goods and services to the public transportation sector and those with increasing production of electric vehicles have growth opportunities from this change. Alstom (EPA: ALO), the French company focused on rail infrastructure, recently acquired the rail division of Canada’s Bombardier. A renewed focus on public transportation could improve Alstom’s fortunes.
Many companies that produce electric vehicles already have long waitlists for their cars, SUVs, and trucks. Volkswagen (OTC: VWAGY) is increasing its electric vehicle production substantially in Europe, while also providing the technology for the seven new electric models that Ford (NYSE: F) will introduce in Europe by 2024.
Any of these stocks that might benefit from the EU’s decision to be independent of Russian energy will, of course, be subject to the whims of market movements. They also are dependent on the availability of raw materials and specific components. Battery improvement and production will underpin both energy and transport improvements.
Mercedes’s (OTC: DDAIF) corporate plan has been to produce only electric vehicles by 2030. To that end, the company has recently opened a battery plant in Alabama, while also taking an equity stake in European battery cell manufacturer Automotive Cells Company. Mercedes is partnering with Total Energy and Stellanis (NYSE: STLA), owner of Peugeot, in that venture.
The explosion of an underwater volcano off Tonga last week was unexpected. It triggered tsunami warnings and evacuation orders in Japan and caused large waves in several South Pacific islands. Footage on social media showed waves crashing into coastal homes. NASA said the volcano’s eruption was more powerful than an atomic bomb.
Volcanic explosions have changed weather throughout history, but be especially glad you’re not living in 536 A.D. That year erupting volcanoes plunged Europe into a foggy darkness for 18 months. Average temperatures in North America, Asia, and Europe plummeted by up to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the coldest decade in the last 2300 years. Snow fell in summer in China, crops failed in many places. This was followed by plague in the Mediterranean.
What happened in tonga?
Shock waves from Tonga’s unusual eruption were felt as far as Alaska. The explosion caused a major oil spill thousands of miles away in Peru, a tsunami, and a seven-hour lightning storm. Its ash went up to about 65,000 feet. Luckily, the damage was isolated to the Island of Tonga but only a few people were injured.
The Hunga Tonga volcano spread a shock wave around the world several times. This was caused by something we call “Gravity Waves”. Think of when you throw a rock in a lake and see the ripples and how they speed up.
Scientists still “do not understand” many issues concerning magma-water interaction and these types of volcanoes. Much research will go into predicting if this will have any lasting effect that cools the climate.
Based on analysis of data from global weather satellites, the Tonga volcanic cloud could have reached an altitude of 39km (128,000ft).
At this height, a volcano can have a net cooling effect on the planet. Will this one? I do not think that low solar activity from the Tonga explosion is having a cooling effect.
THE ASH PLUME REACHED THE MESOSPHERE
The eruption’s initial blast caused the plume of ash and vapor to climb some 55 kilometers, or more than 34 miles, high into the atmosphere.
Typically, the air stops rising far below 60,000 feet, where air temperatures begin to warm and the air loses its buoyancy. In this case, the upward force of the explosion combined with the heat of the plume allowed the vapor to rise to 180,000 feet.
The top of the plume was a relatively narrow column of volcanic material, likely located directly over the volcano. This feature, which somewhat resembles the top of a smashed witch’s hat, is called an overshooting top in meteorology.
How MUCH volcanic gas did tonga’s explosion release?
The Hunga Tonga volcano has emitted more than 112 kilotons (kt) of SO2. For comparison, Pinatubo (1991) emitted 20,000 kt of SO2 and El Chichón (1982) emitted 7,500 kt, Both were climate-cooling eruptions and the Tonga eruption may continue and may emit more SO2. However, a significant climate-cooling SO2 release that may cause La Niña changes are not yet apparent.
Sulfur dioxide that is released from volcanic eruptions like this one can have a cooling effect on Earth, but Hunga Tonga released a relatively minuscule amount of SO2 compared to other climate-changing eruptions.
What Will Be The Impact on LA Niña?
If this underwater volcano has a potential climatic impact in the next few months, it “might” be prolonging La Niña a bit longer than some computer models suggest. I will discuss this and more about volcanoes in the weeks ahead.
Please click on the video above to find out how weather is affecting global commodities. The video talks about how a warm Tropical Atlantic and forecasts for a moderate to strong La Nina suggest rains (not just in October), but likely into November and December as well for key crop areas in Brazil. It has been a devastating last few years for Brazil agriculture with record low water levels. This has been due to climate change, deforestation and other climatic variables.
The article below is mostly excerpted from a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, with a few additional comments by me, Jim Roemer. Climate Change and overpopulation are certainly close to my heart and while this article does not discuss weather forecasting or the commodity markets, it is yet another important sign of how we are destroying our planet. The good thing is, is that China and several other major developing countries in the world, are taking steps to be close to 0% carbon emissions by the year 2050. Hopefully, China and others will remain firm on this commitment, but unless we take more action now, waiting till 2050 may be too late to reverse climate change–Jim Roemer
In recent weeks, a herd of 15 wild elephants on a long, strange trip out of the jungles of far southwestern China have transfixed millions of people across the country.
Millions have tuned in to watch the elephants’ 300-mile journey on television and on internet live streams, or tracked their movements on social media. While enamored with the creatures, some increasingly see the elephants and their journey as a lesson on the perils of nature and a rapidly urbanizing China crashing into one another, especially as development booms.
Along the way, the elephants have broken into villagers’ homes, eaten their food, drank their water and destroyed their crops. All told, the herd has now caused more than 400 separate incidents of damage, worth some $1.1 million, according to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency.
The elephants, which have gone into rural villages and somewhat larger towns, have shown a continued interest in wooden barrels of alcohol. Last month, one of the baby elephants passed out after imbibing a kind of fermented alcohol, and was only able to rejoin the herd the next day.
Some scientists have hypothesized that the elephants are on the move because their habitat has shrunk while their population has grown.
China’s environmental crisis, the result of decades of rapid industrialization, not only threatens the health and livelihoods of the country’s 1.4 billion people but also the global fight against climate change. As the world’s largest source of greenhouse.
China suffers from notoriously bad air pollution. Its carbon-intensive industries have caused additional environmental challenges, including water scarcity and soil contamination. And, like the rest of the world, China will face increasingly harsh consequences of climate change in the coming decades, including flooding and droughts.
China’s staggering pace of urbanization has also contributed. Urbanization increases energy demands to power new manufacturing and industrial centers, and construction of these centers rely on high energy-consuming products such as cement and steel. Another contributor is the increase in cars on the road: In 2018, people in China owned 240 million vehicles, up from about 27 million in 2004.
Internationally, China is the largest financier of fossil fuel infrastructure.
Record heat and fires burn California again. The historical 2018-2019 Australian drought killed millions of animals and put the Australian agricultural economy in a tail-spin. Melting permafrost in Siberia and Russia that threatens wildlife and rivers. These are just a few of the many “obvious” signs that climate change is getting worse.
Some 90% of all scientists agree that we are on a crash course to a global disaster if actions are not taken immediately. This subject of climate changehas become “far too political”, when scientific evidence (just like with COVID-19 and warnings months ago by experts), is overwhelming.
Dr. Robert Corell is an ocean scientist, one of the recipients of the 2007 Noble Peace Prize, and a renowned scientist. Dr. Corell and a friend of mine, Robert Bunting, will be speaking in this all-star panel addressing the topic of Climate Change on Thursday, September 17th. Robert Bunting is the director of the new Sarasota Climate Adaption Center (CAC). He is also a hurricane and climate expert and started the CAC center.
CLICK ON THE ARTICLE ABOVE TO LEARN ABOUT BOB BUNTING AND THE SARASOTA, FLORIDA CAC
The CAC will participate in a Climate Event and we would love your virtual attendance! While the CAC is non-partisan, we talk about climate everywhere! Please register below to find out more.
Join us for a Climate Call to Action webinar in support of Margaret Good’s campaign for Congress Thursday, September 17th at 5:30 pm.