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Bear Versus BMW

 Our little Florida Black Bear (Ursus americanus floridanus) left a couple of big sloppy paw prints on the BMW.

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 This really is not what one wants to find on their expensive new car. . .   
how does one explain this to the insurance agent without endangering the bear?

The bear seems to like this spot.  I often find him sitting by the car.  No longer do I walk the grounds at night without a large torch light for fear of bumping into . . . bear.

Christmas Palm Trees

The Queen Palms (Syagrus romanzoffiana) are decked out for Christmas with all white lights this year.  There has been no cool weather this season.  The almost full, setting moon makes for a warm Florida holiday scene in this long exposure.
More moon shots with Queen Palms
Below:  The African Date Palms (Phoenix reclinata) are now huge.  If we do have cool weather I am not sure how we might go about covering them.  This species of palm tree is easily burnt by frost.
Below:  A few years ago I could easily cover the date palms with tarps.

Above:  Queen Palms with setting moon.

Below:  The Queen Palms with a rising moon in 2010.  Most of the plants around the palms were already burnt from frost in 2010.  Queen Palms are cold hardy down to at least 20° F (-7° C).  We've never experienced temperatures lower than 20° F.
Below:  The moon through the bare branches of a Common Persimmon Tree.  Clouds are starting to stream in from the west.  These clouds are part of the massive cyclone moving across North America that has put most of the continent into a deep freeze.  Florida, however, will not experience any cold weather from this approaching system.  We might have a chance for much-needed rain, but the chances are slim as has been the case since early October.
For more photos of Christmas Palm Trees go to

 Yes, the Arctic is warming fast, but what about the rest of us?
In Florida temps are still in the mid-80°s (29°-30° C) as we approach 
the new year, and worse yet it virtually hasn't rained since last May.
Photo and commentary:  ©Phillip Lott, phillipsnaturalworld.com


The Arctic saw the warmest temperatures ever recorded in 2016, according to an The Arctic Report Card:  Tracking recent environmental changes relative to historical records, released December 14, 2016 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Air temperatures were 2° Celsius — 3.6° Fahrenheit — higher than their 1981-to-2010 average in the months between October 2015 and September of 2016, a time period that coincided with a strong El Niño event, NOAA reported. According to the agency, since 1900, temperatures have risen even than that in the Arctic: 3.5° C (6.3° F). All of this means temperatures in the region continue to climb at double the rate of the planet as a whole.

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Intense Florida Sun
December 2016
Photo:  ©Phillip Lott, phillipsnaturalworld.com
“The average surface temperature in the Arctic from January until September of 2016 was by far the highest we’ve observed since 1900,” said Jeremy Mathis, who directs NOAA’s Arctic Research Program. “And this is a critical point, there were record temperature highs set in January, February, October, and November of 2016.”

“The story in the Arctic has been warming in the summertime, you have this big loss of sea ice in the summer….but now we’re seeing temperature records being shattered in the wintertime,” Mathis continued. “And so we’re seeing that this persistent heat is now staying around year round. The fact that we’re breaking temperature records on the warm side in the winter months is what’s really indicating that these trends are what’s here to stay.”

Unprecedented Warm Air and Ocean Surface Temperatures in 2016

The report, which is peer reviewed for its statements up through September, included a special non-peer reviewed addendum to cover the months of October and November of 2016 — perhaps because they were so extraordinary, featuring record low levels of Arctic sea ice heading into deep winter. (The Artic is the region of the planet north of 60° latitude.) Here, the document noted the “record breaking delay in the freeze up of the sea cover in Fall 2016 is associated with unprecedented warm air and ocean surface temperatures.”

In 2016 overall, warm Arctic temperatures led to the second lowest level of Arctic sea ice ever recorded at the summer minimum in September (many individual months saw all-time record lows), the second earliest beginning to the melt season for the Greenland ice sheet, low snow cover, and much else.
Intense Florida Sun
December 2016
Photo and commentary:  ©Phillip Lott, phillipsnaturalworld.com

“The 2016 Arctic Report Card further documents the unraveling of the Arctic and the crumbling of the pillars of the global climate system that the Arctic maintains,” said Rafe Pomerance, who is chair of the group Arctic 21 and sits on the Polar Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. “Governments must urgently work together to establish a future Arctic that minimizes ever greater warming from the loss of sea ice and snow cover and thawing permafrost, and massive sea level rise from the shrinking Greenland ice sheet and other Arctic glaciers.”


Weather Extremes Magnified by Weakening Jet Stream

One of the most watched — and most controversial — aspects of this rapid Arctic change involves the jet stream. There’s a prominent theory, advanced by Rutgers University’s Jennifer Francis, that the decreasing temperature difference between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes as the Arctic warms is slowing this stratospheric air flow and causing it to take a more elongated and loopy path, which can in turn lead to more weather extremes as weather systems become stuck in place for longer.

NOAA isn’t officially endorsing this theory yet, but it is studying it closely, Mathis said. “As the Arctic destabilizes, these cold air masses can start sliding down into the lower 48 that can give us extreme weather,” he said.

All of this is happening due to global warming resulting from the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But in the Arctic itself, the NOAA report notes, permafrost soils currently contain twice as much buried carbon as resides in the air. And one of the most striking parts of the NOAA report is that this region “appears to be releasing net carbon to the atmosphere,” even after an increase in plant growth in the Arctic that partially offsets soil losses.

Trump Nominates Oil Man to be Secretary of State

The news about the record warm Arctic comes as president-elect Trump has named Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil, as his secretary of state. As head of the world’s largest private oil company, Tillerson and Exxon “had begun a drilling program in the Arctic’s Kara Sea, where Exxon made a find, and had agreed to explore shale oil areas of West Siberia and deep waters of the Black Sea,” note Steven Mufson and two Washington Post colleagues today. But this was halted by sanctions on Russia.

The irony is that if Arctic drilling goes forward, the resulting fossil fuels will surely make global warming even worse — but global warming, by reducing the amount sea ice, will also have also made drilling easier to pull off. Add to that Trump seems bent on pushing a policy of maximum population growth which is the ultimate driver of global warming as a growing population consumes more resources. By vowing to eliminate abortion rights and appointing social conservatives to key government positions Trump has signaled that population growth is a paramount goal of his administration.


Arctic/Antarctic Links

Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP)

Antarctic Treaty System Handbook

The Arctic Council

Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS)

The Byrd Polar Research Center

Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Directory of polar and cold regions organizations

International Arctic Research Center — University of Alaska Fairbanks

International Arctic Science Committee

International Council for Science Statement on Polar Research (pdf)

International Permafrost Association


International Polar Year 2007-2008 Links:
US National Committee to the International Polar Year (National Academies) 
US Government IPY site (archived)
International IPY site

NASA Cryospheric Sciences Branch

National Science Foundation — Office of Polar Programs

National Institutes of Health — National Library of Medicine's Arctic Health

National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Arctic Theme Page

The Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, U. of Washington

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research

US Arctic Research Commission

Photo:  ©Phillip Lott, phillipsnaturalworld.com
We've Read

Progressives have felt a call to arms, finally.  We need to be outspoken.

The theory doesn't explain the horribly bleached blond females (think Kellyanne Conway) who gravitate to the President-elect, but it is a start to explaining rampant racism in the ignorant backwoods of America.


There’s been great thirst this election cycle for insight into the psychology of Trump voters. J.D. Vance’s memoir Hillbilly Elegy offers a narrative about broken families and social decay. “There is a lack of agency here — a feeling that you have little control over your life and a willingness to blame everyone but yourself,” he writes. Sociologist Arlie Hochschild tells a tale of perceived betrayal. According to her research, white voters feel the American Dream is drifting out of reach for them, and they are angry because they believe minorities and immigrants have butted in line.

Cramer’s recent book, The Politics of Resentment,” offers a third perspective. Through her repeated interviews with the people of rural Wisconsin, she shows how politics have increasingly become a matter of personal identity. Just about all of her subjects felt a deep sense of bitterness toward elites and city dwellers; just about all of them felt tread on, disrespected and cheated out of what they felt they deserved.

We're Following
A minimum of 27.1°C (80.8°F) was recorded in Australia's largest city early Wednesday, December 14, 2016 according to the Australian Bureau of Meterology.  Records have been kept at Sydney's Observatory Hill weather station since 1859.  Later in the day the temperature topped 38°C (100°F).  Some handle the heat better than others.


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