Rising temperatures could reduce how far meteorologists can see into the future, study finds

By Jeremy Deaton

New research raises the uncomfortable possibility that climate change will not only make weather more severe but also harder to predict, potentially giving us less time to prepare for extreme floods, storms and heat waves in the years to come.

While scientists have long wondered whether climate change would affect forecasting, this appears to be the first study to probe for an answer. Its findings, though far from conclusive, suggest that rising temperatures could reduce how far meteorologists can see into the future.

A picture taken on October 31, 2018 shows polar bears feeding at a garbage dump near the village of Belushya Guba, on the remote Russian northern Novaya Zemlya archipelago, a tightly-controlled military area where a village declared a state of emergency in February after dozens of bears were seen entering homes and public buildings. – Scientists say conflicts with ice-dependent polar bears will increase in the future due to Arctic ice melting and a rise of human presence in the area as Moscow bolsters economic and military activity in the Arctic. An “invasion” of aggressive polar bears in inhabited areas of Arctic Russia occured for around ten days in February 2019 after the animals came to the area looking for food. Polar bears are affected by global warming with melting Arctic ice forcing them to spend more time on land where they compete for food. (Photo by Alexander GRIR / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER GRIR/AFP/Getty Images)

Computer models are guidance, not gospel, a reminder to forecasters and their users

“It seems that colder climates are just inherently more predictable than warmer ones,” said Aditi Sheshadri, an atmospheric scientist at Stanford University and lead author of the paper.

In the current climate, the practical extent of reliable weather forecasting is about 10 days, owing both to the limits of forecasting technology and to the complexity of weather itself. Even the tiniest unaccounted-for detail in a weather model — the proverbial flap of a butterfly’s wing — can introduce error.

Small errors grow into larger errors, causing the model to diverge from the actual weather over time. Knowing more about the initial conditions can make forecasts marginally more accurate, but weather is fundamentally chaotic, and beyond a certain point, the future is unknowable, at least in any great detail.

To account for errors, meteorologists will run an ensemble of weather models, inputting slightly different initial conditions into each model and then watching where the models agree and disagree. As they look deeper into the future, the models will branch further and further apart, until they bear as much resemblance to each other as to a model based on completely different inputs. This is the point of “error saturation,” when the models “lose memory” of the initial conditions, as Sheshadri wrote.

In the paper, she and her co-authors asked whether weather models would reach this point more quickly in a warmer climate. They ran a weather ensemble in computer simulations of both warmer and cooler climates, measuring the time to error saturation. The study focused on the middle latitudes — which include the United States, Europe and China — finding that, in warmer climates, storms grow more quickly and errors propagate faster.

“Its time to error saturation, which is associated with the accurate window of predictability, that time scale is just shorter in a warmer climate,” Sheshadri said.

At 5.4 degrees (3 degrees Celsius) of warming, the window for accurately predicting precipitation shrinks by about one day in the mid-latitudes, according to the study. The window closes more slowly for predictions of wind and temperature, shortening by about half a day.

“It’s an interesting idea to ask the question, ‘Are weather forecasts going to be more or less predictable in the future under climate change?’ ” said Timothy Palmer, an Oxford physicist specializing in the predictability of weather who was not affiliated with the research. He said the study perhaps raises more questions than it answers, relying, as it does, on highly simplified simulations of climate change.

In the simulations, for instance, the equator heats up faster than the poles, but, in reality, the picture is more complicated: At high altitudes, the tropics are warming faster than the poles; at the Earth’s surface, the poles are warming faster than the tropics.

2°C: Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world

Simplified, or “idealized,” simulations are useful for allowing researchers to home in on a few key variables, but in glossing over some of the complexity of the actual climate, they may not reveal all the changes that scientists would expect to see in real life.

“I think they’ve revealed some interesting sensitivities, but it would be nice to then go and test this in a way that’s less idealized,” said Isla Simpson, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who was unaffiliated with the study.

“It’s a good starting point,” she added. “And I think it will motivate other studies that look at this from a more comprehensive viewpoint.”

Simpson said that, in addition to deploying a more realistic representation of climate change, future studies should investigate whether predictability will vary by season or region. Although weather forecasts may grow less reliable in some parts of the world, they could become more reliable in others.

Future research should also investigate the different ways that climate change could frustrate weather forecasting, Palmer said. Extreme rainfall and longer dry spells are already difficult to predict several days in advance, and rising temperatures will yield more of both phenomena.

Extreme weather tormenting the planet will worsen because of global warming, U.N. panel finds

One saving grace is that improved weather forecasting could allow meteorologists to continue to produce accurate predictions even if climate change introduces more chaos into the system.

“It’s unclear whether this effect would be big enough to counteract any advances we may make as computing power becomes better or our models advance,” Simpson said. “Climate change is not the only factor that’s going to affect our skill at weather forecasts in the future.”

Pisco Hour ….. wrong country… Cocktail hour with Paul and Shawn


Paul and Shawn in the Ascension putting in for Baja

John and I had dinner with Paul and Shawn last night, before they sailed for the Baja this morning, totally clear skies and calm seas, perfect for their exit. Fun to have had them in the hood for awhile. 

Barb Wheeler

Bodhi Manda Zen Center ~Jemez Springs, New Mexico

I used to visit the retreat over the years and was in charge of cleaning the kitchen tile and grout daily for a weeks full-ride scholarship (room, board, tuition, books just like those football players at CU. On occasion Kyozan Joshu Sasaki (佐々木承周, Sasaki Jōshū), Roshi was a Japanese Rinzai Zen teacher who sought to tailor his teachings to westerners, he lived in Los Angeles and was Leonard Cohen’s Teacher) would guest-lecture and i was fortunate enough to sit with him.



The Bodhi Manda Zen Center is a Zen Buddhist retreat in Jemez Springs New Mexico providing a nourishing environment to support the spiritual growth of all committed seekers.

Our Mission is to help inquirers overcome the sense of separateness, providing people who are ready to do the work with a welcoming, safe, and caring environment where they can open up to a new experience of themselves — arising each moment in intimate relationship with the whole world.

Avalokiteśvara, the Buddha of Compassion, in the Bodhi Sutra Hall.


between jobs


Since the circle motive is so closely associated with the Zen painting practice, Kosho’s Enso is an obvious homage to his former teacher Seisetsu. And even the poem that Kosho places next to the circle echoes the distant sound of familiar sentences we often encounter in Zen related artefacts: “Winds chase clouds – And clouds follow the winds.”
Shimizu Kosho (1911-1999) 
Circle (Enso) 

JAN. 22, 1973: THE DAY THAT CHANGED AMERICA ~ The Washington Post … This is a quick but thorough SYNOPSIS of the beginning of the BIG change in contemporary America ~ rŌbert


Protesters march around the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul on Jan. 22, 1973, after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade. (AP)

By James D. Robenalt

It was a day unlike any other in U.S. history. Jan. 22, 1973, was the day Henry Kissinger flew to Paris to end the Vietnam War for the United States. It was the day the Supreme Court issued its opinion on abortion rights in Roe v. Wade. And it was the day the nation’s 36th president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, died of a heart attack in Texas at 64.

Few days have represented such a turning point in the trajectory of our history, and what happened that day started a chain reaction that turned politically nuclear, leaving us with the current landscape of unbridgeable divides.

Less than a decade earlier, the American populace had seemed as united as ever in a time of landslide elections and political consensus. The disintegration of that unity began well before Jan. 22, 1973, but no date more fully captures the end of the spirit of the ’60s and the start of a darker era of seemingly permanent political schism.

More than anything, the Roe ruling drew an enduring red line through American politics, where compromise was impossible and opponents were not only wrong but wicked. Every year since 1973, D.C. has been flooded in the days around Jan. 22 with antiabortion protesters for what has become known as the March for Life. (Last year’s events were called off because of the coronavirus, yet many still came to Washington. This year, despite the ongoing pandemic, the gathering took place Friday.) Promoters refer to the event as “the world’s largest annual human rights demonstration.”

The vaccine requirements for certain events at this year’s march sparked a vicious online battle, with many abortion opponents asserting that vaccines cause abortions or are produced using fetal cells. “It is tragic that a PRO-LIFE organization would be coerced into promoting ground-up murdered baby injections!” one person posted in the comments on the March for Life website. “This is evil.”

The radicalization of our politics would not have seemed possible to the actors who made Jan. 22, 1973, such a fateful day.

The justices of the Supreme Court in 1972, including Chief Justice Warren Burger, front row center. (John Rous/AP)

Warren Burger, chief justice of the United States, was concerned that the edition of Time magazine that hit newsstands that morning scooped the forthcoming ruling, reporting that the “Supreme Court has decided to strike down nearly every anti-abortion law in the land.” Burger was especially miffed at the article’s headline, “The Sexes: Abortion on Demand,” when his own concurrence confidently asserted, “Plainly, the Court today rejects any claim that the Constitution requires abortions on demand.”

Burger sent a letter to the other justices demanding that they find the source of the leak, even suggesting lie-detector tests for their law clerks.

President Richard Nixon met with Kissinger in the Executive Office Building next to the White House about 8:15 a.m. “You all set for your trip?” Nixon inquired, the soon-to-be-infamous tapes running. They chatted about the initialing of the accords in Paris that would finally bring an end to the long war that had ravaged Vietnam but also had torn apart the United States, especially dividing young from old. The terms would be anything but the “peace with honor” Nixon had promised. Hostile forces from the North were permitted to remain in place in the South, all but ensuring its eventual fall.

Nixon thought little about abortion and was only mildly irritated with the Roeruling later that morning. Of the four conservative justices he had nominated to the Supreme Court in his remarkable first term, three — Burger, Harry Blackmun and Lewis Powell — joined the majority in permitting abortions. (William Rehnquist dissented.)

Days later, Nixon would tell his adviser Chuck Colson that there were times when abortion was necessary. “Let’s suppose there is a Black and a White,” he offered. The casual racism that spilled forth from Nixon in the tapes infected almost all of his political thinking and was at the heart of the political counterrevolution he was leading in 1973. Black people, in his view, were entitled takers, and it was the Whites who were being taken.

Two days earlier, on Jan. 20, Nixon had been at his zenith when he delivered his second inaugural address. Riding a historic landslide in November 1972, Nixon now felt empowered to let loose on Johnson’s Great Society and his programs to end poverty. Americans were no longer to ask what they could do for their country; they were to concentrate on what they could do for themselves. “Let us remember,” he declared, “that America was built not by government but by people, not by welfare but by work, not by shirking responsibility but by seeking responsibility.”

Johnson was a man broken by the war he kept trying to win, despite its futility. His civil rights record was unmatched by any president since Abraham Lincoln, yet as Johnson predicted, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 allowed Nixon to capture the formerly Democratic South and place it firmly in the Republican column. Culture wars would replace the War on Poverty.

President-elect Richard Nixon, left and President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House in December 1968. (AFP/Getty Images)

Johnson spent the morning of Jan. 22 touring his vast ranch in Texas in a car with his aide Jewell Malechek. So advanced was his heart disease that he could barely take 10 steps without having to catch his breath. He took a nap after his lunch and was awoke by stabbing pains in his chest.

When Nixon heard that Johnson had been airlifted to a hospital in San Antonio, he declared his predecessor a hypochondriac. Once it was clear Johnson had died, Nixon’s main reaction was that he would have to delay a TV address he planned to give attacking the Great Society. “I am just not in the mood,” he told his chief of staff, “after doing another funeral on Thursday or Friday, to go on national television and kick the hell out of the Great Society and while we’re scuttling all these programs.”

Nixon offers condolences to Lady Bird Johnson at the funeral for Lyndon B. Johnson at the Capitol on Jan. 24, 1973. (Library of Congress)

As the sun set on Jan. 22, the nation was changed. Symbolically and in practice, the country’s commitment to ending racism and poverty died with Johnson in Texas, the state where Roe v. Wade had originated. The end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam presaged a superpower in decline, unable to impose its will on the world despite its stunning military superiority. The opinion in Roe, which now stands a good chance of being overruled by the current Supreme Court, supercharged a political split that was already being driven by racial resentments. It all worked together.

How Democrats managed to beat the filibuster — 58 years ago

In some ways, the political forces that led to Trumpism were born that day. Donald Trump campaigned on White working-class resentments against the social welfare state, a promise to curtail abortion access, and an “America First” disparagement of involvement in foreign wars. He wouldn’t have framed it this way, but he was more or less elected on the currents that radiated from Jan. 22, 1973, with the Roe ruling and the end of Johnson’s Great Society dream and the Vietnam War.

These issues continue to overshadow our national agenda. Jan. 22 brought a close to New Deal and Great Society notions of the government lifting those in need. It began an age of cynicism, starting with the “Me decade,” and a sense that when it comes to major political issues, the United States is a country irredeemably divided.


By James D. RobenaltJames D. Robenalt is the author of “The Harding Affair, Love and Espionage During the Great War” and “January 1973, Watergate, Roe v. Wade, Vietnam, and the Month That Changed America Forever.” He practices law in Cleveland at Thompson Hine LLP.