CO2 2022/2021 418.76 ppm / 415.08 ppm
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Snow will come: At present, ice covers about 3% of the Great Lakes, with scientists predicting peak ice cover of 12.3% for the winter. This will be the lowest level since 2002, when only 12% of the lakes froze over, the lowest number since record-keeping began in 1973. Warm water at the beginning of winter and a La Niña weather pattern has helped keep the water open, but this also reflects a longer-term trend of low ice cover as climate change warms the Great Lakes Basin more quickly than the rest of the country. Jia Wang, ice climatologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, says February could bring more lake effect snow as colder air picks up moisture from the relatively warm lakes. "February will be the coldest month of our winter," Wang said. "The lake-effect snow will come." (Freep)
Avoiding the MIclimate apocalypse: State officials have released a draft of the mawkish-sounding “MI Healthy Climate Plan” for achieving “net-zero” emissions by 2050 and environmental advocates have some thoughts. The plan would power all state buildings with renewable energy, set aside money for home weatherization and direct funds to communities that are most vulnerable to climate change. Tim Minotas, a legislative and political coordinator for the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club, said the plan is a step forward but needs to do more on issues like electrifying buildings and increasing methane gas efficiency. “Michigan is already experiencing the devastating effects of our changing climate, from flooding to power outages, crop failures to failing infrastructure,” said Charlotte Jameson, chief policy officer for the Michigan Environmental Council. “We know the next decade will be decisive in our effort to avoid even worse impacts.” (MLive)
World of coal: The “MI Healthy Climate Plan” (do we really have to keep typing that?) also proposes phasing out coal power generation in the state by 2035, which may sound impressive until one realizes that the state’s second largest energy supplier, Consumers, already plans to decommission its coal plants by 2025. The International Energy Agency has said that high-income countries need to phase out coal generation by 2030 in order to keep global heating below 1.5 C. In other coal news, DTE Energy’s Monroe Power Plant was named the 4th dirtiest power plant in the county by the group Find Energy, which used Environmental Protection Agency data to determine how much carbon dioxide plants emitted in relation to the energy they produced. Find Energy says that older, less efficient coal plants produce a disproportionate amount of the country’s CO2 emissions. (Michigan Advance, Freep, Guardian, Monroe News)
Atmospheric what-now?: According to a new study, atmospheric rivers are a major contributor to winter precipitation in the Upper Great Lakes, which could become more frequent with climate change. These long, thin bands of moisture draw water up from the Gulf of Mexico and are more likely to produce rain than snow in the wintertime, potentially causing rapid snow-melt and flooding. “I would encourage people to pay attention if their local forecaster tells them about an atmospheric river event,” said Marian Mateling, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and lead author of the study. “It might not sound like anything at all but it could potentially mean more precipitation than normal in any season and even if it’s freezing outside, it could mean rain.” (Toronto Star)
Greenifying: We hope you’re sitting down because guess what, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is “greenifying anywhere we can”. In other words, they’re enrolling in DTE’s MIGreenPower program, meaning they will get 10% of their power from renewable sources, with a goal of increasing this to 100% by 2030. A press release tells us this will “reduce the equivalent of the greenhouse gas emissions from 356,212 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.” Meanwhile, the tunnel’s raison d’être: the movement of 4 million mostly gasoline-powered vehicles across the U.S.- Canadian border remains unchanged. (Windsor Star)
Heatwave: While Michigan is enjoying mostly seasonally appropriate weather, much of South America is emerging from a heatwave that saw temperatures as high as 106 degrees in Buenos Aires. This is the second-highest temperature recorded in the Argentine capital in the past 115 years and 700,000 people in the city lost power as the high temperatures strained the power grid. The heat here coincided with low humidity, which poses a special threat because it causes sweat to quickly evaporate and leads to dehydration. (WaPo)
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