It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flooding? Not here.

I was in Wisconsin for the flooding of '93, and I'm glad to be missing this episode. However...

Meanwhile, here in Texas it has been spectacularly hot, with many daily records falling. Hopefully at least the record-setting will stop before July and August. The new Texas weather/climate blog atmo.sphere (heh) has some nomenclature to help us parse the monotonous weather calendar:
Languages created in very cold climates develop lots of terms for snow. It's about time we came up with a vocabulary to describe the different types of hot and humid. Such as:

* doggy: Weather typical of the dog days of summer; light winds, high humidity; nothing remarkable for southeast Texas. It wears on you after a while.
* bearish: Similar to doggy, but with a bit more of a breeze, so that sweat has a fighting chance to evaporate. This weather's a bit more bearable.
* murky: More common late in the summer, when the East Coast haze invades these parts. Visibility is poor, air quality is poor. Tim Heller suggests calling this "dirty humidity".
* brackish: Sort of like a stagnant swamp, when very light winds allow the ozone to build up in Houston. Generally rather unhealthy, especially for asthmatics.
* light and crispy: Air from the deep tropics, though humid, is quite clear. The cloud formations can be spectacular. Analogous to "crisp" fall weather, with fine visibility and terrific light. Even the stars are bright.
* soggy: Hot and humid with rain. Water doesn't know whether it's supposed to be coming down or going back up, so it does both. 'Nuff said.
* haughty: Every once in a while, we get a blast of summer air from the west. It's drier than normal, and also hotter. This lets us brag about how hot it is, and feel proud that we're from Texas and we can take it.

Now that I have a complete vocabulary suited to our weather, here's my weather forecast for the next ten days:

Thursday through Saturday: bearish

Sunday through next Thursday: brackish

Next Friday: light and crispy

Next weekend
: murky
Great. I'm watching "Fargo" tonight for some reason.


Marion Delgado said...


I keep thinking about how all the math adds up to almost exclusively positive feedbacks, and I think of when there was no ice anywhere and alternately back to the Cryogenic Era, and I think about the planet Venus, which was James Hansen's and Carl Sagan's research focus, and it feels like being told you have cancer.

Of course we double-check and triple-check looking for loopholes, and of course there are things to do that help, but just because up to now, in relatively recent eras not a hundred or two milliong years ago we didn't have runaway warming (notice I don't say runaway greenhouse), that's actually no reason at all we shouldn't have it now.

One of the people you'd expect to be sanguine about the biosphere/climate system readjusting itself, also, James Lovelock, says it won't happen on a time scale or to a degree that will help us or any number of other large animals.

David B. Benson said...

Marion Delgado --- RealClimate has a thread or two about runaway. Roughly speaking, it can't happen here.

It can, however, become much too warm. Have you read "Six Degrees"?