Extraordinary photos of snowflakes. Tons here.
Posts tagged snow.
A number of factors all happened simultaneously to create a situation of very high energy needs and high stress in cattle and other livestock. Any one of the following factors could have an impact by itself, but when all combined, it was simply too much for the animals and they most likely succumbed to hypothermia.
The contributing factors included:
- Animals were not adapted to winter conditions. Cattle will grow a thicker hair coat in response to shorter days, and cooler temperatures. But temperatures prior to the storm were in the 70°’s. For cattle, this meant they had thin hair coats and little protection from the elements.
- Snow was preceded by hours of rain. A wet hair coat reduces the “insulation” that the hair and hide provide and increases the rate of heat loss from the body. For example, a cow with a wet hair or summer hair coat has critical temperature of 59°, while one with a dry, heavy winter coat has a critical temperature of 18°. The critical temperature is the temperature at which the animal must increase its metabolism, or burn its own energy, to maintain its body temperature. The further the effective temperature is below the critical temperature, the more energy the animal must use to maintain its body temperature. See “Spring Storms and Cold Stress” for more detailed information.
- Winds in this blizzard were recorded up to 60 mph. Both research and practical experience show what a difference “wind chill” has on effective temperature. The range and pastures that are grazed during summer months are typically “open” – without constructed windbreaks, and usually very few natural windbreaks. With the storm so early in the year, most livestock were still out on summer range and pastures. Thus, animals felt the full intensity of the wind.
- The hair coat, temperature, moisture and wind combination meant the animals’ energy needs to maintain body temperature were much higher than even during a “normal” winter blizzard.
- Coupled with the very high energy needs of the animals was the fact that most of the feed the cattle were currently eating was quite low in energy. Cattle grazing lush green grass makes a beautiful picture, but the reality is that lush, rapidly growing green grass is very high in moisture and low in energy per pound of feed consumed. The unusually large rainfall in September had created this rapidly growing grass in many areas. Under normal weather conditions, cattle were able to consume large quantities of grass to meet and even exceed their energy needs. But under blizzard conditions, it was not possible for them to consume adequate amounts of forage to meet their much higher than normal energy needs.
- To try to escape or reduce the harsh wind, cattle will walk with the wind and seek areas of shelter, such as draws and ravines. Walking through heavy, wet and deep snow increased their energy needs even more. The severity of the snow fall also meant that the animals were walking blind, and could easily fall in to gullies, walk into a stock dam or creek, or gather into a fence corner and face crushing and trampling.
With all the factors above combining effects, exhaustion and the inability to maintain their own body temperature finally caused cattle to simply stop and succumb to hypothermia.
Excellent reporting by Carey Gillam of Reuters. Gillam dives into how the ranchers and families will cope with the losses. The federal government shut down comes into play, as does a tax-payer subsidized bailout for their losses under the - imo - ridiculously bloated and unfairly skewed US Farm Bill.
The story of why nearly 100,000 head of cattle perished is a complicated one, one not just due to freak weather. And Gillam really nails it.
Swirling snow lodged in some of the animals’ lungs, suffocating them. Hypothermia killed more. And others were caught in gullies, or plunged off slickened rock ledges, livestock experts said.
"I’ve been in this business 50 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Jobgen, who estimated her family lost nearly half of its herd of 350 when the storm swept through October 3-5. “The vision of seeing all these cattle dead is something you can’t wipe out of our eyes.”
South Dakota had the sixth-largest cattle herd in the United States with some 3.85 million head in January 2013, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Most of those are in the western part of the state, where the storm struck, leaving carcasses strewn on the Plains and hitting ranchers with tens of millions of dollars in losses.
WASHINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) - Water levels in U.S.aquifers, the vast underground storage areas tapped foragriculture, energy and human consumption, between 2000 and 2008dropped at a rate that was almost three times as great as any time during the 20th century, U.S. officials said on Monday.
The accelerated decline in the subterranean reservoirs is due to a combination of factors, most of them linked to rising population in the United States, according to Leonard Konikow, a research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey.
The big rise in water use started in 1950, at the time of an economic boom and the spread of U.S. suburbs. However, the steep increase in water use and the drop in groundwater levels that followed World War 2 were eclipsed by the changes during the first years of the 21st century, the study showed.
As consumers, farms and industry used more water starting in 2000, aquifers were also affected by climate changes, with less rain and snow filtering underground to replenish what was being pumped out, Konikow said in a telephone interview from Reston, Virginia.
Depletion of groundwater can cause land to subside, cut yields from existing wells, and diminish the flow of water from springs and streams.
Where is all the groundwater going?
View from my window today. Got some nice, sloppy snow. Probably the last of the season.
Snow storm to hit New England Monday evening/Tuesday morning. Prepare for messy commuting.
Winter weather - http://bo.st/ZvwUqA
Great slide show. The horse is ridiculous.
The Dark Snow Project is about 50% funded. Scientists believe that increased droughts are causing more wildfires. These fires emit soot and ash into the air, called ‘black carbon.’ This black carbon circulates through the atmosphere and is deposited (in part) on glaciers and sea ice.
Scientists are finding that the black carbon absorbs heat from the sun, in turn causing the ice to melt faster than expected. The effect of melting ice is faster sea level rise, which will impact (in the least) coastal cities around the world.
The unique part of this project is that it is mostly funded by citizens like you. Really good project and highly recommend visiting their website, darksnowproject.org.
Dark Snow Project: Climate Change and Citizen Science in Greenland
For the dark snow project to succeed, your help is needed.
Please visit darksnowproject.org and consider a tax deductible donation to this unique citizen science initiative, and helping expand the boundaries of knowledge in this critical area of climate science
by Peter Sinclair.
I just left South Carolina a few days early (in part) because of this storm. Airports are getting packed on the east coast, just an FYI.
Lumbering coast to coast, a winter storm hammered the Great Plains on Thursday, and more than a dozen more states were forecast to be hit in coming days.
To many climatey folks, bigger snow storms in winter is a no brainer. But to the rest of the world more snow is an utter contradiction. Indeed, climate deniers exploit this ignorance as a means to protect their own profits. Notorious climate denier congressman James Inhofe (R-OK) receives nearly 90% of his campaign contributions from oil companies, so he is happy to sell his soul to continue protecting his donors from climate legislation. He knows that, to the general public, “global warming” should mean warmer winters, and therefore less storms. It’s the perfect way for a politician to prey on his constituents.
Of course, more snow in winter does not disprove climate change. Indeed, it confirms what climate science has been saying for decades - more intense storms throughout the year.
More moisture in the air means larger precipitation events, regardless the time of year - winter or summer. The best lay-analogy I’ve heard is that climate change works like steroids - storms are “juiced,” making for stronger storms. Pretty simple, to my mind. But how this “juicing” works is a bit more complicated. Physics, computer models, atmospheric science, geography, temperatures, weather cycles, etc., all act together as the “steroid.”
Explaining why there will be bigger snow storms in winter is, therefore, one of the biggest challenges amongst climate researchers and science journalists who aim to inform the public.
USA Today gifted us this fine report explaining how winter storms will become more intense. The clarity is perfect:
Global warming could lead to more blizzards but less overall snow.With scant snowfall and barren ski slopes in parts of the Midwest and Northeast the past couple of years, some scientists have pointed to global warming as the culprit.
Then when a whopper of a blizzard smacked the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow in some places earlier this month, some of the same people again blamed global warming.
How can that be? It’s been a joke among skeptics, pointing to what seems to be a brazen contradiction.
But the answer lies in atmospheric physics. A warmer atmosphere can hold, and dump, more moisture, snow experts say. And two soon-to-be-published studies demonstrate how there can be more giant blizzards yet less snow overall each year. Projections are that that’s likely to continue with man-made global warming.
— The United States has been walloped by twice as many of the most extreme snowstorms in the past 50 years than in the previous 60 years, according to an upcoming study on extreme weather by leading federal and university climate scientists. This also fits with a dramatic upward trend in extreme winter precipitation — both rain and snow — in the Northeastern U.S. charted by the National Climatic Data Center.
— Yet the Global Snow Lab at Rutgers University says that spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has shrunk on average by 1 million square miles in the last 45 years.
— And an upcoming study in the Journal of Climate says computer models predict annual global snowfall to shrink by more than a foot in the next 50 years. The study’s author said most people live in parts of the United States that are likely to see annual snowfall drop between 30 and 70 percent by the end of the century.
“Shorter snow season, less snow overall, but the occasional knockout punch,” Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer said. “That’s the new world we live in.”
Ten climate scientists say the idea of less snow and more blizzards makes sense: A warmer world is likely to decrease the overall amount of snow falling each year and shrink snow season. But when it is cold enough for a snowstorm to hit, the slightly warmer air is often carrying more moisture, producing potentially historic blizzards.
Great read via the underrated USA Today
It’s Climate Science Communications Week at Climate Adaptation! For the entire week of Feb. 18 - 23, I’ll cover how climate change is discussed by the media, scientists, researchers, academics, and politicians. If you have sources or ideas on communicating climate change, send to: http://climateadaptation.tumblr.com/submit
This is an amazing shot of a snowflake with a skull in the middle. Must be seen to be believed!
We pile our snow in the street cuz that’s how we roll. That goofy, architectural identity-crisis is our City Hall, where I worked in the planning department for a few years mentored by this guy… (pic via a FB friend).
Nemocalypse, around Northampton, Mass. A couple interesting things about these.
The first pic is of our city’s beloved Forbes Library. A nice man was using a tractor with a snow blower attachment to clear a path. The snow made a nice, fluffy arch and I couldn’t resist taking the shot, clogging the side-walk while I was at it. He stopped the tractor to let us pass.
I just liked the colors, shapes, and textures in the second, third, fourth, and fifth shots. The sixth shot of the street (South 10, bottom right of the pic) is so hilarious to me. Plows in Northampton push the snow into the middle of the road. This allows cars to park in front of the shops. It also makes for an interesting adventure while crossing the street - you’re basically crossing through a 5-foot snowbank with a punched-out doorway.
And the last pic is of a red bike under two sets of wrought-iron stairs. I think a standard bike tire is 26 inches in diameter. So, this non-windblown snow under a structure hit close to 2 feet. Amazing storm to experience.