What exactly is a “bomb cyclone”? We’ll look into that, as well as surprising news about European emissions and a new study with ominous news about climate policy turning points.
This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news on energy, the environment, and more. For CNNBreakingNews, I’m Zack Budryk. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here or in the box below.
What is a bomb cyclone?
A massive winter storm — which some call Winter Storm Elliott — making its way across the United States is expected to intensify into a so-called bomb cyclone as it dumps extreme winter rainfall across the Midwest by the weekend.
- Bomb cyclones are hurricanes that form in winter through a process known as bombogenesis or explosive cyclogenesis. This is the meteorological term for when a hurricane in mid-latitudes
rapidly intensifies over a period of 24 hours at speeds of at least 24 millibars, the measure of atmospheric pressure.
- The phenomenon usually occurs in the winter months but has occurred in rarer cases during the summer months.
So how did it happen? Conditions for this rapid intensification often arise when a mass of cold and warm air collide. The rate of intensification may result in a drop in temperatures — in the case of the Great Plains and the upper Midwestern states, temperatures have dropped within minutes as the Arctic air mass moves south.
“In this case, we expect it to deepen over the Great Lakes pretty quickly,” Alex Lamers, meteorologist for alert coordination at the National Weather Service, told CNNBreakingNews.
And the East Coast isn’t off the hook: While the blizzard conditions caused by the storm are likely to primarily affect the Midwest, experts say bomb cyclones can also lead to extreme weather conditions at the edges. If this is the case, the storm is expected to cause rainy conditions on the east coast, and forecasters have forecast strong winds and heavy rain for the northeastern USA.
“Anytime you have a rapidly deepening storm system like this and it’s surrounded by a lot of cold air, you’re going to get really strong gusts of wind over [a] very large area, which we see pretty much everywhere, from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic coast,” Lamers said.
“We expect gusts of 40 miles per hour or stronger, and it will be stronger in some areas, particularly on the plains and then in the northeast.”
Read more about the storm here.
EU emissions fell this fall, exceeding expectations
Carbon dioxide emissions in the European Union hit a 30-year low in November this year, turning forecasts that an increase in fossil fuel imports would have the opposite effect, a new report shows.
The EU’s ongoing energy crisis, stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sparked concern that a subsequent scramble over fossil fuels would lead to an increase in the bloc’s emissions, according to the report published by the Center for Energy Research and Clean Air.
But: Nevertheless, emissions and coal consumption fell for the third time in a row in November, the Helsinki-based organization found.
The report, which was based on recording CO2 emissions within the EU in near real time, attributed these surprising developments to a “misunderstanding” about the purchase of resources and actual consumption.
- The EU increased its imports of fossil fuels from around the world to replace lost supplies after Moscow suspended natural gas exports and the bloc in turn banned Russian coal imports, the authors explained. Meanwhile, weak nuclear and hydropower production led to an increase in demand for coal and gas in early 2022.
- However, according to the report, the block also saw a dramatic drop in fossil fuel use, both in industry and in buildings.
Read more from Sharon Udasin from CNNBreakingNews.
Current heating levels can be climate turning points
a new study, destabilizing and dangerous climate tipping points are possible even with the current global warming.
The probability of the collapse of vital Earth systems rises to 50 percent when temperatures rise above 4 degrees Celsius (6.4 Fahrenheit) — even if society later successfully brings them to a safe level, according to the study in Nature Climate Change.
- Complete prevention of such a collapse is only possible if global warming is less than 1 °C (1.8 F) above pre-industrial levels, wrote the authors of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in a statement.
- The globe is now 1.2 °C above pre-industrial temperatures.
The Potsdam team investigated the effects of various forms of “overcoming,” in which global warming crosses agreed red lines, even if it is later brought under control.
- The relationship is simple, explained Potsdam’s Nico Wunderling.
- “We found that the risk of at least one dumping event occurring increases as peak temperatures rise,” he said in a statement.
Even with a brief warming of 3 °C, a third of all simulations evaluated by Potsdam led to a system collapse.
These are the circulating Atlantic current, the ice sheets of West Antarctica and Greenland, and the Amazon rainforest.
While the sensitive ice sheets are particularly vulnerable, it is more likely that the Amazon and Atlantic current—though they are more resistant to high temperatures—will fall apart at an astonishing rate as soon as the collapse begins, the scientists found.
And the collapse of a system risks triggering “cascading interactions between the four elements,” the authors wrote.
Read more from Saul Elbein from CNNBreakingNews.
❄️ BIDEN WAS NOTIFIED ABOUT THE MASSIVE WINTER STORM
President Biden was briefed on Thursday about the severe winter storm and cold wave that will affect most of the US before Christmas.
“I encourage everyone, everyone, please heed the local warnings. We have so far tried to contact 26 governors in the affected regions. For more information, visit weather.gov,” Biden said just before the Oval Office briefing. “It’s not like a snowy day when you were a child. That is serious stuff.”
Biden also said he was being briefed by officials from the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The White House had previously said it would discuss the winter storm system that is crossing the US and its effects.
In the briefing, Biden described the storm and the extreme cold, which are reflected on a map, as “dangerous” and “threatening.”
- The upcoming Christmas weekend is expected to be the coldest in decades in most states.
- The Midwest is already experiencing an arctic cold wave as well as heavy snow and wind. Millions of people in the Upper Midwest and the Plains have been warned of blizzards and winter weather.
Read more from Alex Gangitano from CNNBreakingNews.
WHAT WE READ
- The tricky matter of attaching a dollar value to a human life (Vox)
- California oil petition is being questioned (The Associated Press)
- The $52 billion plan to save low-lying areas of New York from rising sea levels and storm surges (CNBC)
- Court accuses EPA for approving a bee-killing pesticide (E&E News)
- To alleviate the looming water shortage in West Texas, oil companies have started recycling fracking wastewater (The Texas Tribune)
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That’s it for now, thanks for reading. Visit CNNBreakingNews’ energy and environment page for the latest news and coverage. I’ll see you tomorrow.