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Author Topic: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California  (Read 39589 times)

Diane Whitehead

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Re: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #300 on: December 08, 2019, 05:22:13 PM »
Robert,

Do you pull weeds out, or just observe them?

Diane
Diane Whitehead        Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
cool mediterranean climate  warm dry summers, mild wet winters  70 cm rain,   sandy soil

Robert

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Re: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #301 on: December 09, 2019, 07:42:01 PM »
Robert,

Do you pull weeds out, or just observe them?

Diane


Hello Diane,

Thank you for taking an interest in the diary.

I am hoping that I understand your question correctly.

No, I do not pull weeds.

Later today I will be conducting my weekly snow survey. Recent storms have delivered a great deal of snow to the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada Mountains (my study region-Crystal Range) during the past week. Unfortunately, at the mid-elevations much of the precipitation fell as rain, severely eroding the existing snow pack. Currently at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) there is no snow. This is well below the 30-year average (I will have the exact numbers on this later).



Climate change is impacting our region of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. For example, the above chart plots the average number of days with low temperatures ≤ 32 F (0 C) each year for the 13-year period, 2006-2007 through 2018-2019 at 6,700 feet (2,042 meters) in the Sierra Nevada. In our region, the winter of 2018-2019 was one of the coldest and snowiest in the last few decades. During the 2018-2019 season there were 204 days with temperatures ≤ 32 F (0 C). The 13-year average is 195.4, with last year’s 204 day total being well within the standard deviation (17.8 - ) over this same time period.



Comparing the Sierra Nevada site data with the same data from the Placerville farm is useful in creating an accurate analysis of the relatively sort-term data from the Sierra Nevada site. The above chart plots the average number of days with low temperatures ≤ 32 F (0 C) each year for the 31-year period, 1988-1989 through 2018-2019 at the Placerville farm. During the 2018-2019 season there were 34 days with low temperatures ≤ 32 F (0 C). Over the 31 year period, the average number of days with low temperatures ≤ 32 F (0 C) each year is 47.8, with a standard deviation of 13.0. The 34 days of last season are well below average and barely within the standard deviation!

From the above data one can understand how the snow/albedo feedback loop influences low temperatures at the 6,700 feet elevation site. In addition, there is a clear trend; the number of days with low temperatures ≤ 32 F (0 C) in our region is decreasing dramatically both at 6,700 feet in the Sierra Nevada and at 1,425 feet in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

At the 5,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where the number of snow cover days is decreasing rapidly, many changes are taking place that alter the seasonal water hydrology and the natural patterns within ecosystems. Detrimental human activity within this region is accelerating the climate change processes now taking place. A few months ago, I gave a tour of this area to some veteran scientists. Their comment on the human activity in this area was that it looked risky and questionable.

As long as “business as usual” can continue to function nothing is going to change. The need for change is now (from my perspective 50 years ago i.e. it is already far too late the avoid very undesirable changes to the Earth’s systems). In the U.S.A. trying to transform public opinion on this subject is very counterproductive and will never work, so I will continue to “preach to the choir”.  :)
« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 07:49:45 PM by Robert »
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #302 on: December 12, 2019, 01:41:57 PM »


I conducted a mid-elevation snow survey the other day. It was easy as there was no snow below 5,600 feet (1,707 meters). Currently precipitation is running about 117% of average to date, however both snow cover days and accumulated snow is running well below average to date, specifically at the mid-elevations.

I am still working off the older version of my dynamic forecasting model. Out 30 days, temperatures look to be average to slightly above average, with precipitation running slightly below average. Cold weather looks to be shunted into the eastern portion of the U.S.A. and our best chance for large amounts of precipitation are from the subtropics, however currently the chances of this occurring appear to be low. Siberian air masses need to be watched. It appears that this air will continue to be funneled back to the north and then into the eastern U.S.A. My track record with precipitation has not been very good, so I am just adding my human judgment into the equation. The improved version of the forecasting model will not be operational any time soon; there are plenty of other things that need to be done.

Now to see how this works out.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

ian mcdonald

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Re: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #303 on: December 12, 2019, 03:00:00 PM »
Robert, I agree with your "business as usual" comment. It is the same in the UK. Big business runs the country, not the peoples elected representatives.

Robert

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Re: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #304 on: December 13, 2019, 07:11:01 AM »
Hello Ian,

I have to confess that I am very cynical, as in pessimistic, skeptical, distrustful. It is a bad habit that I acquired a long time ago. It would be nice if I could learn to be charming and a gentleman, as in Jane Austen’s character, Mr. Bingley. I have a long way to go on that one!

For me, the concept of “Business as usual” encompasses much more than business interests. But, this is off point! For me the real issue is what I see as the wholesale destruction of the Earth by humans. It is everywhere in our portion of California, the cities, the mountains, etc. I feel cut to the heart by what I see happening and wish to do something about it. Blaming business, government, or something else evades the issue, and just adds to the abuses taking place on this planet.

In my mind, if I want to change the situation, I need to change myself. I understand this avenue is 100% ineffective, so the real issue becomes one of living with personal integrity. My passion for my current project (How climate change is impacting plants and ecosystems in the Sierra Nevada Mountains) is motivated by my desire to live authentically, true to myself. I put forth my whole vital force into my training and work, and continue to push myself to higher levels of excellence. I do all of this knowing full well that I will change nothing on this planet except myself.

This diary is about one person attempting to make the best with what they have to work with. I have made large strides of progress in the last year, however I have a minimum of 6 more years of intense training before I will be ready to truly take on my assignment (the climate change project). Things like my forecasting model are really just training tools preparing me for the larger task of the project. Climate change is impacting all of our gardens. Here and there, hopefully there are helpful ideas and concepts within this diary that are useful for gardeners.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #305 on: December 16, 2019, 05:19:16 PM »
I am now completing and reporting on my first full year working on my new project. There has been a large shift in the readership of this diary during the past 3 to 6 months. Most of those responding to the diary (direct via email) are “locals” (people in which I have personal contact). The format of this diary will shift, reflecting the nature of my work and the majority interest of those that respond to the diary. At this point the diary is a challenging balancing act between sharing appropriate information (there is much I cannot share), simplifying information that can often be very complex and detailed, and finding relevant connections between the nature of my work and the interest of gardeners and gardening.

I enjoy writing this diary and wish to continue well into the future. Atmospheric science – climatology and the relationships with plants/ecosystems is a passion. My wife and I also delight in our beautiful garden.  I hope that I can continue to balance these two passions through this diary in a way that a diversity of readers can enjoy.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Hoy

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Re: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #306 on: December 16, 2019, 08:05:58 PM »
Robert,

I also hope you will balance the two passions! Although I read both your weather reports and garden/outings reports with interest I like the last ones best! Your weather/climate reports are probably more important though. Your observations are the same to what we observe here (I rely on the official statistics, not my own measurements  ;)  but I use my eyes and my memory (which isn't always reliable). Both my memory and this figure tell the same story, change.

Years with a white Christmas in a 30 year period (1961-1990 and 1988-2017):

Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

François Lambert

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Re: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #307 on: December 17, 2019, 12:10:01 PM »
Hello Trond & Robert.

Another illustration of the warming climate is the 'eflstedentocht' in the Netherlands.  Translated : 'the eleven cities journey', where you will go to all eleven cities of the province of Groningen in The Netherlands, only by skating on natural ice.

The last edition of this marvelous event was in 1997.  Since then there has never been enough ice on the frozen canals to be able to organize the tour.

En have a look at the history of the event :

First one on 2 january 1909
7 february 1912
27 january 1917
12 february 1929
28 february 1929
16 december 1933
30 january 1940
6 february 1941
22 january 1942
8 february 1947
3 february 1954
14 february 1956
18 january 1963
21 february 1985
26 february 1986
4 january 1997

The last 22 years there was no elfstedentocht, where on average in the period 1909 -> 1997 there was one every 5 to 6 year on average.  Between 1963 & 1985 there have also been 22 years without elfstedentocht.  I remember the two winters of 1985 & 1986 - in both winters we had more than a month uninterrupted frost of about -10C by day.  This shows that since the golden sixties winters tend to be less harch on average.  Of course, there may be one winter to come, where if we get a month of frozen air directly from Siberia the canals will once again be frozen solid enough to allow for the event to take place.  And that will also be the winter that kills many slightly too tender plants in our gardens.  But the trend shows the average winter is getting warmer.
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Robert

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Re: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #308 on: December 18, 2019, 06:50:36 AM »
Trond – Francois

Thank you for sharing the interesting charts and statistics.

This is the big question I keep asking myself concerning Global Climate change:

Given our starting point as of today, has the world started on a comprehensive and inclusive program to produce an energy dense, low carbon energy source? Currently, solar and wind energy generally have relatively low EREI ratios and are not reliable energy sources (i.e. nighttime, overcast weather, a calm wind day). Are the EREI ratios of solar and wind energy great enough to sustain a desired rate of economic growth (i.e. the desired life styles within developed countries)? Breeder reactors have an energy dense fuel; however currently there is resistance to this course of energy production.

So let’s say the world started on this huge project today and followed the path of “Green Energy” (including the above, biofuels, etc.) and breeder reactors. Some progress has already been made in this regard, however to date it has not been enough to slow the 2% growth rate in atmospheric CO2. But lets say the world gets started today with this program and can achieve a carbon neutral state in 20 years (just consider the inconceivable costs, let alone, how many can afford this, even in the developed world, and there are many, many, other enormous obstacles to over come, and the world needs to cooperate together – does any of this seem likely?). At the end of this time we are still left with an Earth with atmospheric CO2 concentrations of well over 400 ppm. This level has not occurred on this planet since the Eocene Epoch, 40 million years ago. It has been estimated that during the Eocene Epoch global temperatures averaged 9 to 14 C warmer than today. There was no Arctic ice, and little or no Antarctic ice. Sea levels were much higher than today. It took millions of years for CO2 levels to drop to levels measured before the start of the industrial revolution. Humans have increased global atmospheric CO2 concentrations from pre-industrial revolution levels to over 400 ppm in just a few centuries.

At this time an enormous amount of atmospheric carbon needs to be sequestered and placed somewhere (old coal mines?). Humans have destroyed much of the Earth’s natural capabilities to sequester carbon. Currently there is no viable alternative, however if one is found, how much space will this require, and/or how much energy will be required, how long will this take to implement, and how much will this cost?

Currently, global radiative forcing has surpassed a planetary boundary. The momentum toward continued climatic warming is almost inconceivable. Climatic warming has progressed much more rapidly than forecasted 20-30 years ago. The question now is, has the rate of climatic change increased, or was the rate just greater than forecasted? If the rate of change is accelerating, have we passed some planetary threshold(s)? The latest World Climatic Summit just ended with no agreement on anything. As stated “time for action is quickly running out”.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2019, 06:56:10 AM by Robert »
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Hoy

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Re: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #309 on: December 18, 2019, 08:03:20 AM »
François,

you reminded me of something I had seen many years ago! The elfstedentocht was always reported in Norwegian TV :)

Robert,

You don't seem to be too optimistic regarding the ongoing climate change. I am not either. Our societies need energy and I can't see any way to produce the amount of energy needed in the near future without emitting CO2. In my opinion things like electric cars are just moving the emissions from one country to another. The mining needed to extract the rare earths and metals needed destroy a lot of vegetation. Building wind turbines also destroy a lot of vegetation. Vegetation that could bind CO2. Breeder reactors and other energy production depending on fission are very unpopular now. I do not see any easy way out of this dilemma.

I am sorry that the politicians can't agree but I am not astonished.
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Hoy

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Re: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #310 on: December 18, 2019, 08:07:28 AM »
Just to show an optimist!

In the garden a few days ago (it is still there trying to open the flower in the dull weather we have): Gentiana verna

655572-0
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

François Lambert

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Re: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #311 on: December 18, 2019, 12:08:29 PM »
Fortunately, there is a new technology arriving : solar panels making directly hydrogen out of atmospheric humidity.  It's still waiting for the first commercial production, but scientists of the Leuven University have build the first prototypes which already have a good yield.  They claim 15 of their panels covers the domestic energy needs of one Belgian household, double that and it also covers energy needs for transportation.  We will see if this new technology will break through, but it has major advantages : storing and transporting hydrogen is easier then for electricity, definitely the storing.  No rare earth metals are needed in these solar panels, and fuel cells also only need a fraction of rare metals compared to batteries.
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Robert

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Re: 2019 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #312 on: December 18, 2019, 09:00:51 PM »
Francois

Very cool.  8)   8)   8)

This is great news!  :) I have read about the development of artificial photosynthesis, but did not know that so much progress had been made. It will be even better when the production of hydrogen can be bypassed. A photosystem II type system that produces a proton gradient that can drive an artificial ATP synthase-like enzyme/catalyst to produce an ATP – ADP-like energy that can be stored for later use, as well as be recycled (something similar to the ATP –ADP arrangement in all life forms on Earth). In addition, there will be a flow of electrons (i.e. an electric current)! My hope is that such a system will have a relatively high EREI ratio, has a minimal need for toxic metals and substances for its functioning and production, has a very long useful operational cycle, and is easily recycled or reprocessed for reuse.

If there is an English language web site that further explains their progress to date, I would be extremely interested.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

 


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