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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/7/19

Something new to worry about -- Quasi-resonant Amplification

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     (# of views)   9 comments, In Series: Climate change
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Message Robert Adler
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Picture a river flowing down from the mountains to the plains. In the high country where the river's descent is steep and hedged in by canyon walls, it's likely to follow a relatively straight path, basically tracing the shortest route down. Once it gets to the plains, however, there's no big difference between one path and another, and the river will begin to meander.

Meandering river
Meandering river
(Image by NASA/ISS)
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Something similar is true for the jet streams, vast rivers of air that circle the globe from west to east, sometimes reaching speeds of 250 miles per hour. Like rivers, jet streams typically meander north and south. The size of those meanders and the speed with which they gradually drift eastward have major impacts on the weather. The UK, for example, was deluged by record floods i n 2007 and again in 2012 when the jet stream looped far to the south and then stalled, unleashing extended periods of heavy rains. And much of the US has suffered from extremely cold spells, when frigid air that usually stays high in the Arctic spills far to the south, and lingers.

Meandering polar jet stream
Meandering polar jet stream
(Image by NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center)
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That, in turn, gets us to climate change and quasi-resonant amplification (QRA).

One of the most dramatic impacts of global warming and climate change is that the far north and the far south are warming much faster than the mid-latitudes and the tropics, a phenomenon known as polar amplification. What this means is that the temperature difference between the poles and the tropics--which is what creates and drives the jet streams--is reduced. And like a river crossing a plain, this reduced gradient lets the jet stream meander farther north and south, and also tends to make the individual loops, known as Rossby waves, drift more slowly from west to east.

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At the extreme, the meanders in the jet stream can form a stable sequence of exaggerated loops around the planet that can stay in place for weeks or months. This is known as quasi-resonant amplification and its results can be devastating. Warm, sunny days can stretch into deadly heat waves, droughts and ideal conditions for wildfires; while cool, rainy weather can linger, drenching an unlucky region with unprecedented rains and floods.

Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University, says that this phenomenon has now passed from the theoretical to the all-too-real and threatening. "It played out in real time on our television screens and newspaper headlines in the form of an unprecedented hemisphere-wide pattern of extreme floods, droughts, heat waves and wildfires," he says.

Giving us some sense of the magnitude of this problem, the UN reports that extreme weather events displaced two million people people in 2018.

Unfortunately, Mann adds, climate models indicate that such QRA-caused weather extremes will grow more frequent and more severe unless we get a handle on global warming. We can hope that humanity (and the politicians and corporations who hold the reins) will get their act together, and soon. In the meantime, however, we can all expect more QRAs and the devastating weather extremes they bring coming to a region near us.

(Article changed on April 7, 2019 at 14:50)

(Article changed on April 7, 2019 at 18:27)

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Robert Adler Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linked In Page       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I'm a retired psychologist and freelance writer focusing on science, technology and fact-based political and social commentary.

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Series: "Climate change"

A Legion of Rabid "Free Traders" (Article) (# of views) 02/13/2009
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5 people are discussing this page, with 9 comments  Post Comment


Robert Adler

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It sounds very technical and off-putting, but quasi-resonant amplification of the meandering jet stream is a concept everyone ought to know about, since it controls a lot of our weather, especially the devastating extremes that seem to be happpening more and more often.

Submitted on Sunday, Apr 7, 2019 at 1:27:21 AM

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David Wieland

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Reply to Robert Adler:   New Content

It's off-putting because it's intended to be. Frankly, any writer who treats Mann as a reliable scientist is showing lack of awareness of Mann's activist nature that puts publicizing his alarming ideas ahead of honest science. As a result, there are many respectable scientists who have no respect for that Mann. However, his claims provide just the support other alarmists need to keep making claims about warnings from "the scientists".

As for devastating extremes, records clearly show that they're not happening more now, but they sure get a lot more news coverage. Alarmists have to come up with new threats now that temperature records document the failed predictions of rapid increase, including Mann's "hockey stick" constructed mostly from a poor proxy (a few bristlecone pines) for past temperatures plus some modern temperature records pasted on to replace the proxy temps that didn't follow the desired narrative.

In climate modelling, science is minimized in favour of algorithmically generated rapid warming (and an ever-growing number of dire consequences). It take a very creative mind to come up with a serious-sounding explanation of how warming causes cooling. Because so few understand science, the alarmists can be aided by misguided politicians and bureaucrats and by uncritical media hungry for headlines (and clicks).

Science has suffered mightily. I'm afraid it will take decades to regain the honour it used to enjoy. Our society, our educational system, and our environment will suffer from the delusions that substitute for understanding.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 8, 2019 at 12:32:41 AM

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Robert Adler

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Reply to David Wieland:   New Content

Glad you read the post, even though you disagree with what it reports.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 8, 2019 at 1:26:35 AM

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Chuck Nafziger

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I thought the dangers represented by changes in the jet stream were perhaps understated in the article. Living in the west, I cannot deny the new normal where we choke on wildfire smoke every summer. Our latest ORA pattern is making the forests around me crispy dry at the very time that they should be soaking up water to make it through the summer. We live in interesting times.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 8, 2019 at 3:44:05 AM

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Robert Adler

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Reply to Chuck Nafziger:   New Content

Having our car packed and our escape routes planned during the Northern California Wildfires of October, 2017, I can't help but agree. The 2017 Tubbs fire that very nearly burned out was the most destructive California wildfire ever, until, of course the 2018 Camp Fire.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 8, 2019 at 3:54:47 AM

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Alexander Kershaw

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As was implied it is not humanity that holds the reins but corporations and their owners the .00001%. They could care less. They already have their refuges and havens. Large estates that can be self sufficient like feudal dominions. Most of the .00001% keep that a secret but the less than acute Bush family recently publicly bought 300,000 acres over the Guarani Aquifer, the largest fresh water reservoir in the world, in Uruguay. That would be a circle of land 25 miles across. Just imagine what the smarter and richer .00001% must have.

Submitted on Sunday, Apr 7, 2019 at 7:29:30 PM

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Robert Adler

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Reply to Alexander Kershaw:   New Content

Agreed. Things would have to get very, very bad before the super rich would be discomforted, much less displaced. But,unfortunately, that still leaves the 7.529 billion of us who actually have to deal with the real world at risk.

Submitted on Sunday, Apr 7, 2019 at 10:04:36 PM

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Wupatki

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Thanks for this excellent article. My (40 year old) daughter recently asked me about the jet stream and polar vortexes: I'll give her a link to this. Should send one on to the Donald as well.

Submitted on Sunday, Apr 7, 2019 at 9:17:40 PM

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Reply to Wupatki:   New Content

I'm guessing your daughter would get much more out of the piece than the Donald would. After all, the article is nearly 500 words long and only has two pictures.

Submitted on Sunday, Apr 7, 2019 at 10:06:33 PM

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