CattleFax Weather Analyst Says El Nino Could Bring Warmer, Wetter Spring and SummerThu, 06 Feb 2014 16:35:20 CST
Art Douglas, Creighton University Professor Emeritus and a weather analyst for CattleFax, spoke this week's Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Among other topics, Douglas said he has good news for ag producers: another El Nino is on the way which should bring warmer and wetter conditions to many parts of the U.S. (He spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays following his presentation. You can hear their conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.)
"We're going to have, probably, at least a moderate if not strong El Nino developing starting early this spring into the summer and it will probably peak in the winter."
He said if we go back to the last El Nino situation in 2009 and 2010, most of the U.S. had higher-than-normal precipitation.
"All that warm water along the Equator, along the west coast of the United States fuels storms especially as we get into the fall and winter. So, it's a real plus for the United States."
Douglas said as El Nino begins to set up, it will allow more moisture to flow up into the central United States from the Gulf of Mexico, bringing more opportunities for rainfall. That rainfall will be most prevalent across eastern sections of Texas and a large portion of Oklahoma.
The warm air from the Gulf will also bring higher temperatures along with it, a complete reversal of conditions being seen across Oklahoma at this time, he said.
"It's pretty classic that an El Nino as it develops during the summer will start a little warmer than normal, a continuation of that spring circulation."
The same weather system that brings the warmer temperatures and moisture in the late spring and early summer also brings with it more cold fronts later in the summer that tend to increase precipitation and lower temperatures during some of the warmest months.
During his presentation Douglas also examined the conflicting claims about diminishing sea ice and its relationship to predictions of global warming.
"There's been a lot of discussion about sea ice in the Arctic, so I showed a graph based on satellite data in which we have radars on satellites that determine the amount of sea ice in the Arctic since 1979. The graphic shows that we had a pretty stable Arctic Ocean through about 1994. Then, when the Atlantic went into this warm phase with a sped-up Gulf Stream, then we see the sea ice decreasing through the late 90s into the early 2000s. But, lo and behold, if you look at the data for about the last five to six years, it's kind of stabilizing. It just has not continued to go down. And this idea of all the sea ice being lost within 20 or 30 years is really hard to understand based on the fact that we've gone into a new normal."
Douglas said if global warming were indeed as bad as alarmists are making it out to be, one would expect sea ice to be decreasing everywhere.
"We go down in the Southern Hemisphere and look at the graph for the amount of sea ice around the Antarctic and, lo and behold, it has steadily increased. So, currently, about the last couple of years, we're in the upper five percent of the most extensive amount of ice in the Southern Hemisphere. They're opposed to each other, in other words. We've got the Arctic which has lost ice, we have the Antarctic which has gained ice."
Given the data, Douglas said he doesn't see how it is possible to draw the conclusion global warming supporters are selling.
"If you use CO2 as the main culprit in global warming-and the Northern Hemisphere most certainly is warm and we've seen the loss of the sea ice-now CO2 is also in the Southern Hemisphere and it's just not working down there.
"So, I prefer to consider these things natural variability--which CO2 may be slightly impacting-or maybe half of the change in sea ice in the Arctic is due to CO2, but the Antarctic it doesn't appear there's been any influence of CO2 and trying to melt the ice down there."
You can listen to Ron Hays's conversation with Art Douglas by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
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