Australia Portland's roads melted during last month's heatwave. So what does this extreme weather event tell us about climate change?

01:42  01 august  2021
01:42  01 august  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

Road planners 'can ignore climate change'

  Road planners 'can ignore climate change' Government guidelines mean road planners can effectively ignore climate change, campaigners say.Transport secretary Grant Shapps has promised a review of £27bn highways policy which will be completed within two years.

Ever imagined a city so hot that the road melts and parts of the transport system start to warp and twist?

What about an unprecedented cold snap that froze power lines in the usually balmy state of Texas?

Or bushfire smoke travelling more than 4,000 kilometres from America's west coast to New York City, causing air pollution nine times the recommended level?

And Germany recording roughly double the amount of rain expected for the entire month of July in just two days.

This is now the lived reality for many parts of the world as severe weather events become more and more frequent.

And it's prompting many of these communities to now ask themselves: how do we adapt to the new normal?

Climate emergency not slowed by COVID-19 pandemic and planet's 'vital signs' worsening, scientists say

  Climate emergency not slowed by COVID-19 pandemic and planet's 'vital signs' worsening, scientists say Key signs of climate change's impact on Earth have worsened over the past two years according to scientists, despite many industries grinding to a halt in the pandemic.But scientists have confirmed that despite many industries and human activities slowing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Earth's "vital signs" have actually worsened over the past two years.

According to climate scientist Bill Hare, it will require a dramatic shift in approach.

"Above all, it means future-proofing infrastructure and teaching people how to deal with extremes," he said.

"In some places, you're talking about simply giving up. In some places it will not work to build a seawall – five years later, it will be gone."

But before we get deep into how communities are going to have to completely re-think how they interact with the world, let's take a closer look at what happened in Portland.

What really happened in Portland?

In short, it was very hot. The city's usually moderate summer broke records in June, literally melting through its hottest day ever.

And as it maxed out at 44 degrees Celsius, Portland's relatively modern, 20-year-old metro system started to warp.

21 of 29 People Test Positive for COVID-19 After Oregon Family Reunion—13 Fully Vaccinated

  21 of 29 People Test Positive for COVID-19 After Oregon Family Reunion—13 Fully Vaccinated The vaccine remains effective, and breakthrough cases are expected, according to the CDCNiki Marienburg told KGW-TV, a Portland-based television news station, that family members from across the country attended the reunion at Sunriver Resort, a luxury resort in Central Oregon, for 10 days in June. She said most of her family was vaccinated, and no one wore masks throughout the reunion.

A power cable twisted around some metal hardware and scorched, wires that run above the track expanded and sagged so much they risked touching train cars.

The trams, powered by 100 per cent renewable energy, are exactly what the United States needs to reduce carbon pollution, but they were clearly built for another age.

The heatwave was caused by an unusual weather phenomenon.

Usually, hot air expands and rises, which then cools the planet's surface or helps create thunderstorms.

But a high-pressure system sitting on the atmosphere trapped the hot air, causing a so-called heat dome.

When the air tries to rise, the system nudges it back to the surface — and during that process, the air becomes denser and hotter.

It can't escape the cycle, so it just circulates up and down, getting hotter and hotter.

Could these events become more frequent?

According to experts, the Portland example is a rare phenomenon and considered a one in 1,000-year event.

UK warmer and wetter due to climate change: study

  UK warmer and wetter due to climate change: study Britain has become warmer, wetter and sunnier this century due to climate change, an annual report by leading meteorologists said Thursday, prompting warnings of record summer temperatures in future decades. Britain has also been on average six percent wetter over the last three decades than the preceding 30 years. Six of the 10 wettest years since 1862 have occurred in the last 22 years.

But meteorologist Andrew Hoell from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the question scientists were now trying to answer was whether climate change is making these kinds of extremes more frequent.

"There are really two considerations here when it comes to events like that," he said.

"The first one is, how will climate change affect the weather patterns? So, the specific pattern that produces that type of warmth.

"The other question is the background warming that climate change produces, which is on the order of maybe two or three and perhaps even four degrees Fahrenheit.

"That's really an emerging area right now, that the community is trying to understand, is whether a pattern like that is now more likely to happen in a changing climate."

There's little doubt extreme weather events are increasing in intensity and frequency, but scientists are still trying to determine how climate change could influence the anomalies.

"Some folks are arguing that the weather patterns are becoming stronger and more amplified because of climate change," Mr Hoell said.

World on the brink of 'catastrophe' as extreme weather events pile up, UK's climate chief warns

  World on the brink of 'catastrophe' as extreme weather events pile up, UK's climate chief warns Urgent action is needed to address climate change or the world will soon face "catastrophe", the UK's COP26 chief has warned.With just 85 days until the climate conference in Glasgow, minister Alok Sharma told the Observer that failing to act would have "catastrophic" consequences.

"And they're linking that to changes in the Arctic, so changing sea ice cover and land ice cover, and also the temperatures in the Arctic, and how that may affect the weather pattern say over North America and over Europe.

"That right there needs a lot more vetting, it needs a lot more research, but there is that hypothesis, out there right now that we need to test more thoroughly."

Mr Hoell said scientists use their knowledge of the weather, climate observations and model simulations to determine if extreme events like what has happened in Texas and the Pacific northwest are becoming more likely.

"If a certain event is going to become more likely, whether it's a heat event or cold event or an extreme precipitation event, you want to be able to plan for that," he said.

"And we want to use our best information possible."

Are we seeing cities melt elsewhere?

Climate change isn't affecting all parts of the globe equally and the effects tend to be region-specific.

Australia's horror bushfire season last year was arguably the country's most recent display of the impacts of climate change.

"The bushfires in Australia were exceptional. Now they were linked to some forms of what we call natural variability," Mr Hoell said.

"So, there was a pattern of sea surface temperature anomalies in the Indian Ocean, that were very closely related to that."

Portland sees Antifa descend on Christian worship event, clash with Proud Boys in streets

  Portland sees Antifa descend on Christian worship event, clash with Proud Boys in streets Videos from Portland showed a crowd of demonstrators violently shut down an event where Christians gathered the pray on the waterfront.Police officers did not intervene in either confrontation – besides a squad car sounding its siren just feet away.

Mr Hoell said it also sparks a number of questions, such as whether that pattern of sea surface temperatures is now more likely in the changing climate.

"So did that feed into the exceptional fires but also, when it came to those fires, was the ground more arid because of climate change?" he asked.

Mr Hoell said the bushfires which transpired in Australia and the heatwave in Portland were events which only occur every 500 to 2,000 years but that was changing.

He said if climate change is going to make some events twice as likely — for example, a one in 100-year event becoming a one in 50-year event — then that could have serious implications for current infrastructure.

Take a bridge, for example. Instead of experiencing a rare weather event once during its lifetime, Mr Hoell said going by that model, it could now expect to experience it twice.

"So now it's twice going to have twice as much stress on it just because it's two events as opposed to one," he said.

So how are cities preparing for a new normal?

In North America, millions are being forced to confront a string of inescapable disasters as the nation endures a summer of record-breaking drought, heatwaves and megafires exacerbated by climate change.

Groundwater and streams vital to both farmers and cities are drying up and fires are devouring entire neighbourhoods and livelihoods on an ever-increasing scale.

While summer monsoon rains have brought some relief to the south-west, 99.9 per cent of Utah is locked in severe drought and reservoirs are less than half full.

Portland police don't intervene as Antifa, Proud Boys battle in streets

  Portland police don't intervene as Antifa, Proud Boys battle in streets Shocking videos from Portland showed skirmishes between Antifascists and alleged Proud Boys members – without any officer response despite being blocks away from a police station. Members of the Proud Boys group reportedly acted as security and attempted to close off an intersection to allow Christian worshippers who had come to attend an event on the waterfront organized by "Let Us Worship" rally leader Sean Feucht. Feucht has made a name for himself protesting coronavirus restrictions on religious services in California and elsewhere in the country.

US President Joe Biden recently announced a mega $3.3 trillion dollar infrastructure plan designed to future-proof the nation's homes for weather extremes while also reducing carbon emissions by investing in clean technology.

It's part of his plan to undertake the gigantic task of shifting the United States to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

"It's actually a pretty intelligent thing to do, just because you're trying to use your best possible information to inform certain infrastructure," Mr Hoell said.

"Because if you don't do that, then you may experience a weather event or climate event that will ruin your infrastructure, then you have to do it all over again.

"The reason why this is such a priority with this administration and even was a priority with the Trump administration is because all the infrastructure that was built was built 50 to 100 years ago, [and it] needs to be replaced.

"So that's why this is really at the forefront of his agenda, is to try to make more informed decisions so the infrastructure will last."

Some states are also doing their part to weatherproof communities as well.

California's largest electricity provider, Pacific Gas and Electric, plans to spend tens of billions, putting 16,000 kilometres of powerlines underground to prevent future bushfires.

Parts of the state, which typically swelter through hot summers, have also set up cool rooms to house homeless people unable to escape the heat.

Even Seattle, which is home to a far milder climate, set them up this year.

"Heatwaves kill people, as everyone says, silently, but they kill more if you don't understand them," Dr Hare said.

"If you're prepared — there's warning systems, there's welfare services in place — then you can get more people through the extreme heatwaves."

Governments will also have to start retrofitting buildings or replacing infrastructure better able to handle extremes on both ends of the climate spectrum.

"That's making sure cities are greener. You can lower the peak temperature by a number of degrees by focusing on that," Dr Hare said.

"Adaptation resilience sort of issues are labour-intensive, right, you've got to retrofit housings and buildings, you are spending money that's ultimately spent on labour and then you also impose the economic capacity of a country when things get too hot.

"Hot places have lower productivity, when it gets hot, people slow down.

"You're also trying to build economic resilience, the same with floods. If you can limit the infrastructure damages, then you're also building economic resilience to climate extremes."

What else can be done?

Most scientists will tell you mitigating the effects of climate change by reducing our impact on carbon emissions is the best path forward.

That's because continually adapting the world to ever-changing weather conditions will be expensive and inefficient.

But Dr Hare seriously doubts many governments have the will to do it.

"You're talking about making hard decisions and very few governments are equipped to do that," he said.

"I'm hard-pressed to think of any governments who have serious approaches to this.

"It's a tough thing for governments because you're up against everyone."

He gives the example of governments being forced to determine whether parts of the planet are no longer habitable, even if it means moving a village that has existed for 500 years.

"It means looking at all infrastructure and slowly future-proofing it, when it's due for replacement or before," he said.

"It also means basically deciding that some places are not places for people to live safely."

The climate disaster warning India cannot ignore .
It is the world's third largest carbon emitter, but hasn't set a date for becoming carbon neutral.The third largest carbon emitter of the world, after China and the US, India has maintained that it is on course to outperform its Paris climate agreement pledge to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from 2005 levels by 2030.

usr: 0
This is interesting!