Well, its official heat waves are really more now than just heat waves! Because the U.S. government has acknowledged that the U.S. is in the worst drought in over 60 years. That’s since December 1956 and well it’s about 58 percent of the contiguous U.S. is in moderate to extreme drought. This is NOT good for power production!

First of all and even back in 2012 this was being reported. All according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Climatic Data Center’s “State of the Climate Drought July 2012” report. Yet even in 2012 but most noteworthy even in 2019. I mean on the website EVEN TODAY doesn’t look good!!

So their Palmer Drought Index is severe to extreme drought. All affected about 38 percent of the contiguous United States. That’s about 57 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories.

Heatwaves create drought

According to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor said 63% of USA in drought. Yes folks about 63 percent of the contiguous U.S. is also classified experiencing moderate to exceptional (D1-D4) drought!

Much business writing on the effects of the drought have focused on its agricultural aspects. Yet the hottest and the driest summer since 1936 is the scorching Midwest. It diminished projected corn and soybean crop yields in the U.S. for a third straight year. All to their lowest levels in nine years.

Heat waves affected prices of corn and soy

Accordingly, the price of a bushel of corn has jumped 62 percent since 15 June. Also soybeans gained 32 percent in the same period.

But yes consumers fret about the inevitable rise in food prices to come. However the drought is unveiling. It’s bringing another, darker threat to the American lifestyle. One as it is now threatening U.S. electricity supplies.

Why?

Because virtually all power plants, except solar and wind uses water. So whether they are nuclear, coal, or natural gas-fired. I mean they are completely dependent on water for cooling.

Ok, let’s start with hydroelectric plants requiring continuous water flow. All to operate their water based turbines. Now add in droughts. Now many facilities start overheating. So utilities are therefore shutting them down. As well as running their plants at lower capacity.

Water and power don’t go well with heat waves

Few Americans know or up to this point have cared about water. Only when there are heat waves. I mean that the country’s power plants account for about half of all the water used in the United States.

So take every gallon of residential water used in the average U.S. household. That water is now five times more used to provide that home with electricity. Unless it’s Green!

Another reason why we must move toward wind, solar, tidal, energy efficiency, geothermal and energy storage.

Now again all via hydropower turbines and fossil fuel power plants use water. That’s roughly 40,000 gallons each month.

Michael Webber is associate director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. He is under no such illusions, stating that the summer’s record high heat and drought have worked together to overtax the nations electrical grid,

Modeling study suggests feedback loop will amplify heat waves during droughts

Droughts are recurrent, disruptive weather events whose impacts are often compounded by extreme and prolonged heat waves. Now a new NOAA study in the Journal of Climate warns that in the already warm and frequently dry southern Great Plains and Southwest, climate change will make these “hot droughts” significantly hotter – and longer – than they used to be.

Power needs water

The research, led by CIRES scientist Linyin Cheng, now at the University of Arkansas. Linyin assessed how; and by how much, human-caused climate change affects things. More over compound drought and heat wave events over the contiguous United States.

So they ran multiple simulations. All using a sophisticated climate model; comparing the response of heatwaves to an underlying drought in our current atmosphere. As well as the atmosphere of the 19th century. You know, before appreciable global warming.

Consequently they found that in the southern Plains and southwest especially, soil moisture vanishes during severe droughts. This also results in amplification of the surface warming and hotter heat waves.

The paper further notes that this supercharging of drought-related heat waves is a factor separate from, and additive to, the overall rise in global temperature as a whole. All certainly which acts to further increase temperature in virtually all weather regimes, drought or not.

Most noteworthy, nuclear is the thirstiest power source.

According to the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, West Virginia, the average NPP that generates 12.2 million megawatt hours of electricity requires far more water to cool its turbines than other power plants.

NPPs need 2725 liters of water per megawatt hour for cooling.

Coal or natural gas plants needs usually 1890 and 719 liters respectively. All to produce the same amount of energy.

Now back again to 2019 and NOAA adding.

The authors caution that their results are based on a single climate model. That means certainly it will need to be compared to results from other models running comparable scenarios. All though one other recent study did find that compound drought-heat waves are becoming more frequent in parts of the U.S.  Especially including the semi-arid Southwest.

That’s why they would also like to determine whether the sensitivity of compound drought-heat waves. All to climate change can be identified in historical weather records.

Then a new report states from the American Meteorological Society:

Although the link between droughts and heat waves is widely recognized. The question is however does climate change affect this link remains uncertain.

Here we assess how, and by how much. I mean how much human-induced climate change affects summertime hot drought. Then creating compound events over the contiguous United States.

Results are derived by comparing hot drought statistics in long simulations. Certainly in a coupled of climate models (CESM1) and subjected to year-1850 and year-2000 radiative forcings.

Within each climate state, a strong and nonlinear dependency of heat-wave intensity on drought severity is found. Certainly in water-limited regions of the southern Great Plains and southwestern United States.

That’s where heat-wave intensity is also found to be insensitive to drought severity. Especially like in energy-limited regions of the northern and/or northeastern United States. Then determined the water-limited areas of the southern Great Plains. Also southwestern United States and things get consequently amplified. Meaning as a result, the intensity of extreme heat waves. All during severe droughts.

Then NOAA evaluated temperatures in the Texas-Gulf Basin. That’s where a heat wave during a moderately severe summer drought in the 1800s would typically be amplified by 2.7 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (F) by the absence of cooling evaporation. In the 21st century, model runs showed heat waves during drought were amplified by 5.4 to 6.3 degrees F.

If the background trend of increasing temperatures due to climate change is factored in, a compound heat wave-drought in the 21st century could end up being between 7.2 and 9.9 degrees F hotter than a similar drought in 1850.

But ocean water as a coolant is not necessarily the answer either.

According to the Connecticut Herald News and on 12 August Dominion Resources’ Millstone NPP. It situated on Connecticut’s Niantic Bay on Long Island Sound. It was forced to shut down one of two reactor units because seawater used to cool down the plant was too warm.  That’s averaging 1.7 degrees above the NRC limit of 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Consequently, the Millstone NPP, which provides half of all power used in Connecticut and 12 percent in New England. It was only restarted twelve days later.

The federal government is hardly known for its scaremongering tactics, but it would seem that Mother Nature is forcing Americans to belatedly consider making some lifestyle changes, as the choice seems to be devolving into energy conservation, turning down the air conditioner and digging deeper into the wallet for food costs.

It might also be time for serious national discussion about renewable energy, including wind and solar.

If the sun stops shining, all bets are off.

Extreme heat may not trigger the same visceral fear as a tornado, but according to NOAA’s natural hazard statistics, it causes nearly twice as many fatalities in the United States each year – more than any other weather hazard. As the climate continues to warm, that number could rise dramatically in the U.S. and around the world.

Since the late 1800s, human-caused climate change has warmed the Earth’s average temperature by around 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit). That doesn’t sound like much, but a relatively small warming of the average temperature results in a large jump in extreme heat.

Sources: http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/The-U.S.-Drought-and-Electricity-Generation.html, Yale Connections and American Meteorological Association, Connecticut Herald News, NOAA, National Geographic

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