Friday, August 26, 2011

Texas' Changed Climate, the Texas Drought & The Texas Grid

The state climatologist for Texas, John Nielsen-Gammon, is quoted in Greenwire as saying that Texas is 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than in the 1970s and "by the middle of the century it should be another 2 to 3 degrees warmer, give or take."

Lost in Governor Perry's recent climate comments was his acceptance that the climate has changed.  Instead all the focus went to the Governor's denial that human beings had caused the change and his charge that  many climate scientists were engaged in a massive fraud.

All the data confirm that Governor Perry is correct that the climate has changed, and it is hotter. 

The higher heat and record temperatures have increased air-conditioning loads and electricity demand peaks,  pushing the Texas grid almost beyond the breaking point this summer, with frequent power emergency declarations, and with power prices rocketing to an incredible $3 per kilowatt-hour or $3,000 per megawatt-hour.

But what about the record drought now threatening water supplies, including cooling water for power plants, in Texas?  Is the drought affected, caused, influenced by the already changed climate?

Again quoted in Greenwire, David Brown of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said:
"We can't say with certainty whether this particular drought is in and of itself a product of climate change."

Few things can be said with certainty.  But it can certainly be said that Texas's climate has changed and a changed climate impacts daily weather and seasonal trends and averages.

In fact, the Texas climatologist says about 80 per cent of the models run for the 2007 report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predict declining precipitation for Texas.

Texas had better get a power system capable of dealing with higher temperatures and less water.  Right now it is not ready for its already changed climate.

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