What is an atmospheric river in meteorology and how is it affecting commodity prices?

What is an atmospheric river in meteorology and how is it affecting commodity prices?

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The combination of a warming Arctic and a series of strong storms (Atmospheric River) pounding the west coast is having the following effects on commodities:

  1. Record warm weather in Europe is pressuring Dutch natural gas, as well as the U.S. energy markets
  2. The warmth is also curtailing the demand for coffee
  3. Sometimes when Europe warms, a dry Harmattan wind can hit west Africa. While not a major factor hurting cocoa production yet, it may be, down the road

Jim Roemer

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Will The Hurricane Season Pick Up?

Will The Hurricane Season Pick Up?

There are many climatological factors that affect the Atlantic and Gulf hurricane seasons. Typically, a La Nina event like we have today reduces wind shear which can help enhance tropical activity. In contrast, El Nino events increase wind shear and reduce the number of storms.

Based on our research and similar global ocean temperatures, the 1996 and 2018 analog may be a good ones. 1996 was a La Nina event with some similar global climatological characteristics. In 2018, Europe also had a severe heat wave in drought that killed thousands of people. African dust also killed the beginning of the hurricane season that year; like this year.

Notice the storm tracks in both of these cases: Mostly out in the Atlantic or along the east coast. In both 1996 and 2018, total named storms were 13 and 14, respectively.

Could this season still reach the projected 17 storms or more that NOAA and others are saying? It could based on climate change and the warm loop current in the Gulf of Mexico (see the discussion below)

Please see the CAC’s hurricane forecast here

So here is what we are thinking at Best Weather about the general storm tracks this year

1996 La Nina and hurricane tracks

2018 was not a La Nina but similar major European heat wave with AFrican dust

and 2018

Why 2022 hurricane season got off to a slow start and what may be changing?

Summer 2022 got off to a slow start due to major African dust that disrupted any development in the Atlantic. However, in the main eastern development region near Africa, African dust is weakening and some tropical storms and hurricanes are forecasted by early September.

Additional factors that influence hurricane development (or not), are the following

  1. The MJO (Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea hurricanes are four times more likely to occur when the MJO is producing enhanced precipitation and divergent upper level winds than when precipitation is suppressed and upper level winds are convergent.)

See an interesting article and description here

2. The TNA index (ocean temperatures off the west coast of Africa

3. The loop current in the Gulf of Mexico (The warm loop current the last few years, brought on by climate change and global warming helped spawn no less than 5 category 5 hurricanes over the last few years out of nothing).

Time Lapse Video of a Warming Planet

Time Lapse Video of a Warming Planet

From historic droughts and fires in the western U.S. again, floods in Kentucky, and one of Europe’s worst summers of heat waves and droughts, more and more signs of Climate Change continue.

This video, produced by Berkeley Earth Lab, is a time-lapse animation of the earth’s temperature since the 1800s showing unparalleled evidence of a warming planet. It does not even include the current record hot global summer of 2022.

Is this just something cyclical in nature and can solar activity offset this trend? Absolutely NOT, in my opinion, and in the opinions of over 90% of the world’s top degreed meteorologists and climate specialists.


Europe: Heat Records Obliterated, Wheat and Corn Smacked

Europe: Heat Records Obliterated, Wheat and Corn Smacked

When the UK’s Met Office made a long-range forecast for British and European weather in 2020, no one foresaw that its extreme 2050 heat forecast would arrive in 2022. Tuesday, the UK recorded its highest temperature ever, 40.2 degrees Centigrade (104.4 F).

Across Europe, temperature records have been broken all week. Over 2,000 people have died in Portugal and Spain alone because of heat and wildfires rage from Turkey to Spain and north to the Arctic Circle. Agriculture is suffering, with corn yields predicted to go down by 30% in Italy and 16% in Spain.

The complete social and economic damage has yet to be calculated for this summer’s wild weather in the Northern Hemisphere but the European Environment Agency estimates that the continent has lost up to $552 billion in the last forty years from extreme weather events.

At a climate summit in Berlin this week, António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, declared, “We have a choice. Collective action or collective suicide.”

WIth European temperatures reaching up to 115 Fahrenheit and London thirty Fahrenheit degrees higher than average, is it any wonder the UN Secretary-General despairs?

Temperature changes in Europe show the increased heat
Temperature change in Europe since 1900. Source: UNFCC.

First Cold, Now Heat: Euro Agriculture Has Taken A Big Weather Hit This Year

This is Europe’s second heatwave this year and forecasts call for more. Heat has not been the only concern for European agriculture this year, however. A record-setting cold snap in April came after higher than normal spring temperatures. Late frosts impacted almond and fruit trees in Spain and wine-growing regions in France. Impacts on grain-producing regions in Germany and other countries were small. however.

The current heat wave has led to early harvest in some soft wheat-producing areas. France’s Ministry of Agriculture forecast that 2022 soft wheat production would decline by 7.2% thanks to drought and heat. France is the largest wheat exporter in the European Union and the world’s fourth-largest.

Heat Defeats Italian Farmers, Already in a World of Climate Hurt

Italy, too, has seen a decline in its soft wheat harvest this year. The Italian Association of Millers forecast this week that the soft wheat harvest would come in at 15% under 2021’s number. Durum wheat production, according to the Italian millers, could fall by 10%.

Minster of Agriculture Stefano Patuanelli announced last week that as much as 30% of Italian agriculture will be lost this year due to drought and heat. The government declared a heat and drought emergency in five provinces and Italy’s main farm lobby, Coldiretti, estimates that Italian farmers have lost up to US$3 billion.

The Po Valley Drought Is the Worst in 70 Years

In the Po Valley, the heartland of Italy’s rice growing area, heat and drought have decimated crops. The Po Valley includes the provinces of Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, and Piedmonte, some of the most productive land in the country. A farmer there estimated that up to 70% of their crops were already gone. Saline water from the sea normally reaches three miles up the Po. This year, it has intruded up to 18 miles inland, damaging crops irrigated with river water.

Po River drought in heat wave.
The Po River is seeing the worst drought in 70 years thanks to reduced winter-spring precipitation and summer heat waves. Source: SciTechDaily. Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2020-22), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

Over 50% of Europe and UK on Drought Alert or Warnings

Yesterday, the European Commission published its report “Drought in Europe July 2022“, which found that an unprecedented 44% of land in Europe and the UK is at a drought warning stage, with 9% at the alert level. Winter-spring precipitation deficit was up to 22% more than in 2021 and this is stressing vegetation, especially in the south of the continent. Water Europe estimates that 59% of freshwater use in Europe is for agriculture, with a significant amount used to keep agriculture going in parched Southern Europe.

Water Europe also reports that annual renewable freshwater resources per inhabitant decreased across much of Europe during 1990-2017. The greatest decreases were seen in Spain (-65 %), the greenhouse for Europe, and Malta (-54 %).

In Italy, Minister Patuanelli said that the latest government research showed that Italy had lost 19% of its available water resources from 1991-2020 compared to 1921-1950. He added that the coming decades could see further decreases of up to 40%. Coldretti said that northern Italy has seen half the average rainfall for the last few years. To combat this year’s drought, water rationing has been instituted in cities across Italy.

Too Much of Europe is Burning

This summer’s heat waves have lead to record numbers of fires in forest and agriculture areas. The state of Brandenburg in Germany already has experienced over 260 wildfires this year. Forests in Southwest Europe have been hit unusually hard. Across Spain, over 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) have burned, around twice the average area in a year. Meanwhile, a record number of hectares have burned in France for this time of year; the fire season has not hit its traditional height.

Hectares burned in France in 2022 in heat wave compared to other years
Hectares burned in France in 2022 heat waves compared to previous years. Source: Dr. Serge Zaka, Asso Infoclimat.

What Might Be Causing Europe’s Disasterous Heat and Drought?

A recent study in Nature posited that Western Europe has been a heat wave hotspot for four decades, with heat events increasing in both frequency and intensity. The study found that there was an increased frequency of and intensity when the phenomenon of the upper atmosphere’s jet stream splitting into two occurred. Heat waves would then develop between the two flanks of the jet stream, leading to the rise in European temperatures. What caused this divide was not clear to researchers.

For most of Europe, the extreme weather impacts from climate change are already easily seen, no matter what the cause. “The moment of real climate crisis is 2022,” Rudolfo Laurenti, Deputy Director of the Bonifaca Po Delta Authority, told CNN.

Negative Global Angular Momentum and Why It Signals A Potential Hot La Niña Type Summer

Negative Global Angular Momentum and Why It Signals A Potential Hot La Niña Type Summer

In the midst of a potential global recession, summertime weather will be important for many commodities from natural gas to grains and cotton. Currently, record U.S. western heat is creating massive power black outs, The accelerating drought and heat is a combination of both global warming and climate change and also La Niña

This video below discusses what Global Angular Momentum (GLAAM) and why negative GLAAM is indicative for a hot summer for much of key U.S. natural gas and grain areas as La Nina remains moderate until at least early summer. Atmospheric angular momentum (AAM), a measure of the rotation of the atmosphere around the Earth’s axis, is a useful quantity to investigate changes in the global atmospheric circulation. When there is negative GLAAM, there is a drag in the atmosphere along the equator and this can help maintain La Nina type conditions.

This is very unusual for there to be a third consecutive year of La Niña. How do historical western drought and June heat waves when combined with La Nina help us forecast summer weather? Again, this video explains.


Please click on the VIDEO above to hear all about the climatic factors that will influence summer weather and commodities.

Is “Seawater Rice” China’s Answer to Rising Sea Levels?

Is “Seawater Rice” China’s Answer to Rising Sea Levels?

Over the last 40 years, China’s sea levels have risen faster than the global average. In December, Premier Xi Jinping declared that the production of staples such as rice was a natural security issue.

China’s coastline is facing rising tides, so 2021’s production of 4.6 metric tons of “seawater rice” per acre must have pleased Chinese leaders. Earlier, China’s Minister of Agriculture had pronounced that the country would stabilize corn production and expand soybean production in 2022. After trade disruptions due to COVID, domestic agriculture production has a renewed policy focus in China.

A Surfeit of People, a Lack of Arable Land

China is home to around 20% of the world’s population but has only about 7% of the globe’s arable land. Crop-growing land in the country (currently around 120 million hectares) decreased by about 6% between 2009 and 2019. This was due to pollution and urbanization. Around 100 million hectares of China’s land are unusable due to salinity and alkaline issues. Chinese agronomists hope to turn 6-7 million of those hectares into “seawater rice” producing land by the end of the next decade. While not meeting China’s average of 6.5 tons of rice production per hectare, it would still boost domestic food supplies.

Terraced rice fields in Yunan, China
Terraced Rice fields in Yunan, China. Photo courtesy of Jialiang Gao, www.peace-on-earth.org.

Will Seawater Rice Impact Chinese Imports Soon?

With seawater rice growing in its early stages, Chinese imports of rice boomed in January-August 2021, with a record 3.2 million tons of rice imported. Half of this was broken rice, which is used for feed, snack, and liquor production.

As for imports of other grains, China’s attempt to expand domestic production won’t achieve policy goals for a while. While China has yet to meet the soybean import targets in 2020s US trade deal, some commentators think it will ramp up purchases from Brazil. Overall, though, Chinese soybean purchases fell almost 4% in 2021. However, sales for this year’s Jan 1 to Feb 10th period had old crop soybean sales up 28% from last year. Last week, though, Chinese news agency Xinhua said the country could cut soybean imports by 30 million tons. The reduction could come about if feedstock formulas were changed to lower-protein mixes.