Wet summer

How odd it is for me to write those words after the last few dry years. The word(s) of the last weeks has been “La Niña”, the sister phenomenon to the prolonged El Nino event that has brought us severe drought year after long bloody year. Where El Nino brings eastern Australia dry weather, La Niña brings us rain. (It works the opposite way around for the farmers of the American Midwest grain-belt.)

That’s why it’s rained and rained this month, and why we got huge thunderstorms last week.

sydney storm

I remembered La Niña was to do with the Southern Oscillation Index, as I’m sure many of you do too, but I couldn’t remember exactly what the oscillation entailed. So I looked it up, and for those wanting the Cook’s Tour, it’s all about the sea surface temperature (SST) across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean, and how the warmer or cooler water flows via the ocean currents to modify the normal climate. An El Nino/La Niña occurs when the SST deviates from normal by more than 0.5C – if the temperature goes up we get an El Nino, and if it goes down we get a La Niña.

That the deviation occurs in the equatorial region is the reason that it affects both hemispheres, and that the effect is so significant is due to the size of the Pacific Ocean, which covers a significantly larger area than the total landmass of the planet (as Wikipedia puts it, with room for another Africa to spare). That the effect on the two hemispheres either side of the equator is so different is down to the distribution of landmass, as this New Zealand site phrases it:

Note that the south pole can be seen as a continent surrounded by oceans, whereas the north pole as[sic] an ocean surrounded by continents. Because of this, these two sides of the planet are, like cheese and chalk, totally different from one another, in oceanography, climate and environment.

Some geographers ignore the equator and divide the planet into a land hemisphere and a water hemisphere:

water hemisphereland hemisphere

.. which does tend to make one think a little differently about how the weather systems work over large areas.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about the long term effects of ocean warming on how these systems will work in the future. Will Northern Europe undergo a paradoxical cooling as the oceans warm, due to the weakening or loss entirely of the thermohaline circulation of the North Atlantic Drift? Will the Southern Hemisphere’s predicted lesser response to such changes be an asset for us if the Northern Hemisphere suffers vast climate change while our climate only changes a little, or will we end up overwhelmed by climate refugees?

That’s why conferences such as this week’s one in Bali are important, or at least important in principle (whether much that could be discussed and planned does actually get discussed and planned is a different matter). Large changes are coming as the climate changes, and we need to be prepared for the inevitable refugees and rationing. Not in a panicky, put up the fences and more stringent border patrol way, but in a measured way. I don’t think it’s actually sunk in deep enough into the psyche of our world leaders yet though. It needs more than lip service.



Categories: environment, Science

Tags: , ,

7 replies

  1. if you have something to say to me say it to my face, dont go all hardcore behind my back, wow you posted it to the world, but for all you know my car is called what it is for a reason, so if your feeling hardcore enough to say it to my face, name a place and time, you may have noticed the car and the plates, but if you took one more second maybe you’d notice that girls are in the car 90% of the time, so my message to you is fuck off and get a life instead of being the sheep you are in this world following each other in fucking circles.

  2. DRKHRT sweetie, having some reading comprehension problems? Just above the comments section is a notice about how this blog has a special open thread for commenting on closed comments threads – what a pity you missed it and came onto this thread on which discussions of your ugly car are totally offtopic. For your information, macho challenges about who is and who isn’t “hardcore” interest me in an anthropological sense only – were you raised by dinosaurs?
    I have, thankfully, only seen your car once, for a few snortingly disbelieving seconds, but my opinion remains that it is one of the saddest examples of anxious masculinity I’ve seen for a long time (I posted that comment back in April, and I’ve not seen anything to compete with your car since).
    I think it’s lovely that you give your sisters and cousins lifts in it, although I’m sure they’d stop insisting on you dropping them off a block away from their destination if you just got rid of the stoopid vanity plates.

  3. you are still being a pathetic loser, yeah you said it ages ago, and your still going on shit bout it, its cuz i dont give a fuck bout other drivers on the road, probably like you, who drive in the right lane slow!, yeah you said it ages ago, but shit, sorry for being an individual, and if your a motor bike rider, hope someone side swipes you, and turns you into a quadraplegic, cuz then thats one less dick like you in life i have to deal with, im not for a fight, i just want you to vocalise your thoughts, instead of being a cry baby and typing it in the safety of your house, could be a housing comission home but im giving you the benefit of the doubt, and bout the sisters and cousin comment, like i said if you want the proof why dont you just fuckin look, dickheads like you deserve to be 6ft underground, and to be pissed on everyday, like if you have nothing to do, why take it out on me and my car, and i read the about u, your married and have 2 kids, you must be in some shit marriage in order to get on here and post shit bout me, and as for your kids, what sort of role model are you trying to show, someone thats gunna get bashed, shot and or killed, great just great,

  4. You brought the attitude mate, I’m just dancing with it because I’m a bit bored at the moment, having woken up and finding it a bit hard to get back to sleep.
    Your response to some flippant disrespectful comments about a box on wheels (that’s all cars are) strikes me as overwrought. All our public actions (like your choice of car numberplate etc) are open to public commentary from anyone who sees them, and there’s nothing wrong with commenting to other people instead of the person. Why on earth would I want to go out of my way to follow your car until you stopped somewhere where I could say something to your face? Why would I waste my time?
    One flippant comment on a blog made over 6 months ago, and now you’re upset because it’s in the top 10 Google hits on your nickname. By making these comments here now, you are guaranteed to have moved this blog up higher in the search results on your name. Good move.
    Of course, ditch the bad-leet-poet emo nickname, and no-one will ever know it was you! Go on, the world will be a better place.

  5. this world will never be a better place it will only get worse, you dont have to follow me, just the same as you dont have to type you pov bout how i choose to be different, only reason why i got a attitude is cuz im sick of putting up with dickheads like you putting shit on me cuz you feel like it, how bout you do something more constructive with your day, and emo, do you know exactly what the difference between a goth or emo is, most people dont, both have nothing to do with anything like me, so how bout you find a new hobby, cuz this childish shit you’ve caused is gunna end

  6. instead of being a cry baby and typing it in the safety of your house, could be a housing comission home but im giving you the benefit of the doubt

    Wow. Just wow.

    as for your kids, what sort of role model are you trying to show, someone thats gunna get bashed, shot and or killed, great just great,

    Death threats + easily identifiable dude = FTW!

  7. do you know exactly what the difference between a goth or emo is, most people dont, both have nothing to do with anything like me

    I do know the differences between goth and emo actually, and even if you don’t identify with either subculture the nickname still screams the trademark moody angst. You have a perfect right to advertise that you are filled with moody angst, there’s no law against it and it probably won’t give you cancer either. Observers have a perfect right to be fairly unimpressed with moody angst: you have to understand that we are considerably less interested in you than you are.

    so how bout you find a new hobby, cuz this childish shit you’ve caused is gunna end

    Another death threat? You really better hope nothing does happen to me anytime soon, because if it does you are going to be Suspect #1, and as Lauredhel notes, you really are very easily identifiable.

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