Friday, December 02, 2022

Snow Extent in the Northern Hemisphere now Among the Highest in 56 years

Global cooling?

Snow extent in the Northern Hemisphere at the end of November represents an important parameter for the early winter forecast. This year snow extent is running much higher than average and according to existing global estimates, it is now beyond the highest ever observed so far. Winter forecast, especially in its early phase and in Europe, might be strongly influenced by such a large snow extent, although many other factors need attention.

Northern Hemisphere snow extent is currently indeed very high, now at about 41 million square kilometers, according to the NOAA/Rutgers Global Snow Lab.

Looking at the below Rutgers Daily Snow Extent map, it is clearly noticeable how Russia is completely covered in snow now. Snow is also seen overwhelming all of Canada, and Alaska, as well as a good portion of the Lower 48. This is an important parameter for the early winter forecast.

You could probably forecast a colder-than-normal winter based on Autumnal Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent alone. It’s the largest snow extent in decades. Having so much snow on the ground means any arctic outbreak is going to be a little bit colder. But why should be like this?

In North America snow extent for the end of November is more south than normal, especially in the North West and North East sectors of the U.S: Small and scattered negative anomalies are less significant in the picture, mostly affecting central Mongolia, North East China, and the central U.S.

According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, also the total snow mass for the Northern Hemisphere is tracking comfortably above the 1982-2012 average. This result is based on the current Northern Hemisphere snow-water equivalent relative to the long-term mean and variability.

Snow extent grew pretty fast in the last 30 days, as it should generally be in this period of course, but 2022 is setting a clearly very favorable season for snow on the ground. In the video below you can see how fast the snow extent increased in the last 4 weeks.


Incoming Missouri State Auditor Outlines Plans to Combat ESG Policies

A newly elected official in Missouri says his emphasis in his role as state auditor will be to focus on combating left-wing “environmental, social, and governance”—or “ESG”—policies with respect to investments.

“Well, as the state treasurer, I’ve gained … a lot more exposure to ESG issue than pretty much anybody in elected office in Missouri. So, I will try to at least use that knowledge that I’ve gained, and that experience that I have being on the board of the [state] pension plan and working on these issues, to help,” Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, who was elected this month as the state’s next auditor, told The Daily Signal. He will take his new office on Jan. 9.

“There’s going to be legislation in Missouri this coming session dealing with ESG issues and proxy voting, and things like that. So, as somebody who’s been very involved in that conversation at the board level on a pension plan, as well as having been exposed to it a lot through my engagements with the State Financial Officers Foundation, with [The Heritage Foundation], with you guys, the stuff that I’ve been able to learn, I’m going to be a part of that legislative process in helping develop that legislation,” Fitzpatrick said. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

The incoming Missouri state auditor explained why he’s against the use of environmental, social, and governance policies.

Fitzpatrick explained:

Essentially, the reason I am against ESG being used as a tool for investing purposes is because it prioritizes nonfinancial factors in investment decisions, and how you’re managing people’s investments, over those financial—or what we call pecuniary—factors that should be the priority when you’re managing somebody else’s money and have a responsibility to them to generate the best return possible on their investment.

Fitzpatrick, a Republican, joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss why he is against those environmental, social, and governance policies; how he will continue his work combating those policies as state auditor; and why he thinks he was able to flip the auditor’s seat, which had been held by a Democrat for nearly seven years.


Germany’s Largest State Declares Emergency Amid Energy Crisis

North Rhine-Westphalia, the biggest state in Germany in terms of economy and population, has declared an emergency situation amid the energy crisis in order to be allowed to take on more debt.

North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), home to 20 of the 50 largest German companies, declared an “extraordinary emergency situation” to be able to access more loans which would otherwise be denied to the state because of a rule on how much debt a state can borrow, German broadcaster WDR reports.

NRW has decided to borrow another $5.2 billion (5 billion euros) to cope with the energy crisis after declaring the emergency situation that allows the state to take on more loans. The state’s government is redrafting the 2023 budget and has planned to allocate $3.6 billion (3.5 billion euros) to energy relief measures from loans previously taken for Covid relief that haven’t been used.

NRW’s regional economy has more than 700,000 small and medium-sized companies, the state said in a presentation to investors this month.

The state’s GDP slumped by 2.8% in the third quarter of 2022, the worst reading of all states in Germany, according to the Ifo institute.

Germany’s federal government hasn’t declared an emergency situation, while only Bremen and Saxony-Anhalt – apart from North Rhine-Westphalia – have resorted to emergency situations in their 2023 state budget drafts.

With the cold weather Germany risks more emergencies this winter.

Germany may have to take drastic measures such as gas rationing if levels of gas in storage drop below 40% by February 1st next year, according to the German Federal Network Agency, which will enact such measures if necessary. If gas storage levels drop to below 40% by February 1, this would be considered a critical level, Klaus Müller, the president of the German Federal Network Agency, Bundesnetzagentur, said last week.

Germany is currently in a stage-two level of alert and could go into a level-three emergency if gas stocks fall to critically low levels


Rio Tinto chief scientist Nigel Steward says hydrogen ‘hype’ faces tough tests in reality

Rio Tinto’s chief scientist has fired a shot across the bows of companies and governments banking on green hydrogen “hype” as a solution to global warming, saying the company does not see hydrogen as a serious alternative to fossil fuels as an export commodity.

Speaking at Rio’s London investor day on Wednesday, Rio chief scientist Nigel Steward said the company did not believe hydrogen could be used as an “energy carrier” in the near future, given its production costs and problems with shipping it around the globe.

“Hydrogen is much hyped, particularly as an energy carrier. We don’t see hydrogen as being used as an energy carrier,” he said.

Mr Steward’s comments fly in the face of the ambitions of Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group, which plans to spend billions in the hope of turning green hydrogen into a major seaborne commodity.

But the Rio chief scientist warned investors that recent research suggested that direct shipping of hydrogen at scale could even exacerbate global warming.

“If we want to use hydrogen as an energy carrier, and we‘re going to transport it around the world as liquid hydrogen, that’s problematic because 1 per cent of the hydrogen per day is lost to the atmosphere,” he said.

“Recent studies have shown that hydrogen actually has a global warming potential five to 16 times greater than carbon dioxide. So what this means is it is better to burn natural gas than it is to transport hydrogen around the world and then consume that later.”

Fortescue and other hydrogen hopefuls have said they plan to tackle the issue of energy loss in transporting liquid hydrogen by instead producing ammonia as a means to transport the commodity. But that would require additional chemical processes that would use even more energy, making its use less efficient.

Mr Steward said Rio believed hydrogen could have a major role to play in global energy transition, but said the mining giant believed it was best consumed where it was produced.

“We see hydrogen being used for its unique chemical properties. As a reducing agent for production of green steel, as a reducing agent for ilmenite in the smelting process to make iron and titanium, and also as a source of energy for calcining alumina in our refineries,” he said.

But even that would require a significant technological breakthrough to bring production costs down, he said, given hydrogen production requires significantly more energy to produce than even aluminium smelting.

“It’s a very, very energy intensive material. It requires four times the amount of energy per tonne to produce than aluminium – and we think of aluminium as being very energy intensive,” he said.




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