Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Wind farming could be badly affected by CLIMATE CHANGE

I would be hard-pressed to find anything more ironic. Wind power is going to save us from global warming but if there is too much warming the turbines won’t work.

Climate change could devastate wind farming

10 December, 2017

Watch out, windmills.

A new report published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience warns that wind farming could be seriously affected by climate change, as high rates of carbon emissions lead to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus trapping more heat on the Earth's surface. The resulting increased temperatures would reduce wind output in the global north while likely increasing it in the south, the scientists explain.

Using climate models and projections employed by the U.N., the researchers predicted that Japan, the central United States, and the U.K.'s wind energy industry would see significant losses in wind output if carbon emissions continued at high rates. The central U.S. would lose nearly 20 percent of its power alone, while Japan and the U.K. would lose 10 and 5 percent respectively.

The study did note "substantial regional variations" in its calculations, explaining that the "northern mid-latitudes" experienced more "robust responses" to carbon emissions, while wind power in the southern hemisphere was less distorted by climate change. The Guardian notes that wind in the northern hemisphere is fueled by severe temperature differences between the cold Arctic region and the warmer tropics, which means that a warmer Arctic would reduce wind output.

In the southern hemisphere, however, climate change could actually lead to more wind in regions like eastern Australia, eastern Brazil, and West Africa because of the temperature increase of coastal lands in comparison to ocean waters.

"We found some substantial changes in wind energy, but it does not mean we should not invest in wind power," said Kristopher Karnauskas, an assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Read the fullstudy at Nature Geoscience. Kelly

Who supported moving US embassy to Jerusalem

Bernie Sanders along with 90 other Senators unanimously voted to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in June

Italy hatches plan to leave the EU

Eurozone CRISIS: Italy hatches shocking plan to 'LEAVE euro' – and ECB 'APPROVES'

ITALY is secretly hatching plans to sideline the euro and set up a parallel currency

Silvio Berlusconi supports an alternative currency
11 November, 2017
In a move that will spark fears across the EU of an “Italexit”, three of the country’s political parties are backing the introduction of “Fiscal Credit Certificates” as an alternative to the euro.
The complex plan has the approval of the European Central Bank.

Among the parties backing it is Silvio Berlosconi’s Forza Italia, which has enjoyed an astonishing comeback in the polls.
The revelation comes as Martin Schulz, the leader of Germany’s Social Democratic party who is tipped to become Chancellor Angela Merkel’s deputy, last week called for the creation of a United States of Europe by 2025.
Silvio Berlusconi supports an alternative currency.

The certificates, known as CCFs, give workers and businesses tax breaks to boost income and productivity.

Although not legal tender, everybody can use them to pay taxes, buy government services or exchange them for goods or euros.

According to a report by global analyst GEFIRA, “It is highly likely that commercial operators, such as shops, will accept CCFs as an alternative to the euro.

"They can be used as a parallel currency.”

Independent MEP Diane James said: “If Italy does manage to leave the single currency, it is only a matter of time until it formally leaves the EU and the whole house of cards comes crashing down.”

And Brexit...

Major storm in the North Atlantic

Hurricane-like storm forming - 125mph wind gusts/50ft waves possible

The geopolitics of the war in Syria

Syria - ISIS Is Defeated - The U.S. Is Next In Line

Moon of Alabama,
9 December, 2017

December 09, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - The Islamic State in Syrian and Iraq is officially defeated. The UN resolution which allowed other countries to fight ISIS within Syria and Iraq no longer applies. But the U.S. military, despite the lack of any legal basis, wants to continue its occupation of Syria's north-east. The attempt to do so will fail. Its Kurdish allies in the area are already moving away from it and now prefer Russian protection. Guerrilla forces to fight the U.S. "presence" are being formed. The U.S. plan is shortsighted and stupid. If the U.S. insists on staying there many of its soldiers will die.

Two days ago the Syrian Arab Army closed the last gaps on the west bank of the Euphrates. Having fought all the way from Aleppo along the river towards the east the Tiger Force reached the liberated Deir Ezzor from the west. All settlements on the way are now controlled by the Syrian government. The remaining Islamic State fighters were pushed into the desert where they will be hunted down and killed.

Two days ago the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, declared a "complete victory" in Syria:

Two hours ago, the (Russian) defense minister reported to me that the operations on the eastern and western banks of the Euphrates have been completed with the total rout of the terrorists,” Putin said.

Naturally, there could still be some pockets of resistance, but overall the military work at this stage and on this territory is completed with, I repeat, the total rout of the terrorists,” he said.

Today the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi declared victory and the 'end of the war' against ISIS on the Iraqi side:

"Our forces are in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border and I therefore announce the end of the war against Daesh (IS)," Abadi told a conference in Baghdad.

North of the Euphrates the U.S. proxy force SDF had recently negotiated another agreement (42) with the remaining Islamic State fighters there. ISIS allegedly handed over a border crossing with Iraq to the SDF and in exchange was guaranteed free passage through SDF controlled areas. This agreement came after an earlier one in which the U.S. and SDF let 3,500 ISIS fighters flee from Raqqa to fight the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor. That was a U.S. attempt to delay or prevent the victory of Syria and its allies. It failed.

Shortly after the claimed new ceasefire between the U.S. SDF proxies and ISIS, Russian officers met with officials of the Kurdish YPG, the central force of the SDF. The talks completely changed the situation. In a joint press conference the Kurds and the Russians committed to work together to fight ISIS east of the Euphrates. It seems that the YPG is no longer convinced that the U.S. is willing to do so. The Russians took command and the Russian air forces has since supported the YPG in its fight against ISIS in Deir Ezzor governate on the eastern bank of the river:

A joint operative staff has been created in the town of Es-Salhiya to provide direct control and organize the cooperation with the popular militia units. Apart from Russian advisors, representatives of the eastern Euphrates tribes are taken part in it,” Poplavskiy said, noting that in the “coming days” the entire territory east of Euphrates River will be free from terrorists.
Mahmoud Nuri, a representative of the Kurdish YPG, stated that the militia “battled ISIS under Russian command very effectively.” Kurdish forces have also expressed readiness to ensure the safety of the Russian military specialists operating on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

The U.S. is seriously miffed that the Russians are suddenly supporting the U.S. proxy in Syria's north-east. The U.S. wants to claim the area for itself. (It probably also wants to protect the rest of ISIS there to reuse it when convenient.) The U.S. claims that the Russian air support for the Kurds is violating "coalition airspace".

The U.S. is not invited to Syria but now claims airspace above the country? The Russians, allied with the Syrian government, are invited to fly there. It is obvious who has a sound legal justification to be in the area and who has not. But the U.S. military hates to confront its own malice, and a competent adversary who knows how to play chicken:

In one instance, two Air Force A-10 attack planes flying east of the Euphrates River nearly collided head-on with a Russian Su-24 Fencer just 300 feet away — a knife’s edge when all the planes were streaking at more than 350 miles per hour. The A-10s swerved to avoid the Russian aircraft, which was supposed to fly only west of the Euphrates.
Since American and Russian commanders agreed last month to fly on opposite sides of a 45-mile stretch of the Euphrates to prevent accidents in eastern Syria’s increasingly congested skies, Russian warplanes have violated that deal half a dozen times a day, according to American commanders. They say it is an effort by Moscow to test American resolve, bait Air Force pilots into reacting rashly, and help the Syrian Army solidify territorial gains ahead of diplomatic talks aimed at resolving the country’s nearly seven-year-old war.
ISIS is gone. There is no justification for any "coalition airspace". Where please is the "deal" that allows the U.S. to indefinitely occupy north-east Syria as it now officially demands?

The Pentagon plans to keep some U.S. forces in Syria indefinitely, even after a war against the Islamic State extremist group formally ends, to take part in what it describes as ongoing counterterrorism operations, officials said.
There are approximately 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, along with an unspecified number of contractors supporting them. Last month, the U.S. military withdrew 400 Marines from Syria, which U.S. forces first entered in the fall of 2016.

Officials earlier this week disclosed the plans for an open-ended commitment, known as a “conditions-based” presence.
The Pentagon has said the forces will target parts of Syria that aren’t fully governed by either regime or rebel forces. The military says it has the legal authority to remain there.

The U.S. military has lots of fantasies about "legal authority" and "deals". We had already noted that such a "presence" in Syria is obviously illegal. The fig leaf of a UN resolution 2249 to fight ISIS no longer applies. Putin intentionally emphasized the "total rout of the terrorists" and the "complete" victory to point that out. There is absolutely no justification for the U.S. to stay. Moreover - the presence there is unsustainable.

The commander of the paramilitary forces which support the Syrian and Iraqi government sent a note to the U.S. to let it know that any remaining U.S. forces in Syria will be fought down:

[T]he commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp Brigadier General Haj Qassem Soleimani sent a verbal letter, via Russia, to the head of the US forces commander in Syria, advising him to pull out all US forces to the last soldier “or the doors of hell will open up”.

My message to the US military command: when the battle against ISIS (the Islamic State group) will end, no American soldier will be tolerated in Syria. I advise you to leave by your own will or you will be forced to it”, said Soleimani to a Russian officer. Soleimani asked the Russian responsible to expose the Iranian intentions towards the US: that they will be considered as forces of occupation if these decide to stay in north-east Syria where Kurds and Arab tribes cohabit together.

In 1983 U.S. and French military barracks in Beirut were blown up after their forces had intervened on one side of the Lebanese civil war. Several hundred soldiers died. After the attack the U.S. pulled out of Lebanon. U.S. soldiers staying in north-east Syria can now expect a similar fate.

The U.S. claims that it has 2,000 soldiers in north-east Syria. This after it had claimed that the number was 500. This new number was announced after it had already pulled out 400 marines and it is still way too low:

The updated figure does not reflect troops assigned to classified missions and some Special Operations personnel, Mr. Pahon said.

The U.S. had for months claimed that it only had 500 soldiers in the area. It did not even mention the contractors that follow its troops everywhere. The real number of U.S. personnal must have been ten times as high as the official one. The new official number is "2,000 and some". The real new number is likely still above 3,500 plus several thousand contractors. This revelation confirms again that the U.S. military lies whenever and wherever it can.

The now remaining "more than 2,000" will need tens of tons of supplies each day and the U.S. has no secured supply line into north-east Syria. It is arrogant idiocy to keep the troops there in place. A few roving guerillas can easily choke those supplies. Each of the camps those troops occupy will be a target of external and inside attacks.

The YPG Kurds are already skipping out of their coalition with the U.S.. They are now making friends with the Russians who provide them with air-support where the U.S. wants to keep ISIS alive. How much longer will the U.S. soldiers in the YPG controlled areas be able to trust their "allies"?

The Pentagon says that the presence in Syria is “conditions-based” but it does not name any condition that would have to be fulfilled for ending it. General Soleimani seems to believe that a few hundred body bags arriving at Andrews airbase near Washington, DC might be enough condition fulfillment to do the trick.

The situation in other parts of Syria is largely unchanged. The various Takifiri groups in Idelb governate continue to slaughter each other. The Syrian forces will likely hold back their planned attacks into the area as long as their enemies there are devouring each other. But a year from now Idelb, and north-east Syria, will likely be back in the Syrian government's hand.

This article was originally published by Moon Of Alabama -


Murdoch's the Times uses Grenfell Towers to attack RT

The Times newspaper uses Grenfell Tower disaster to attack RT… again

11 December,2017

The Times newspaper uses Grenfell Tower disaster to attack RT… again


Six months after one of Britain’s worst post-war disasters in which dozens died and hundreds lost their homes, the Times newspaper has attacked activists seeking justice for victims, and chucked in another swipe at RT for good measure. Because why not?
The Times gets off to a strong start in its RT story with the line “A Kremlin-controlled TV station seized on the Grenfell Tower fire to try to foment ‘class war’ in Britain.” It’s a scary accusation, albeit an inaccurate one. RT only aims to foment class war in the early spring. A quick glance around the office shows you’re more likely to find staff fermenting grapes than fomenting class war.

But RT has become so helpful for The Times in filling its pages it should be sending over a cheque for advertising revenue. Make it out to a Mr V. V. Putin.
When a story goes in this strong, it’s hardly surprising that reality and facts cower in the burning glow of feigned indignation. The use of the word ‘seized’ is interesting. You could replace it with, for example ‘reported on.’ Hard to say what RT UK as a news organization was supposed to report in the wake of such a massive story. Perhaps The Times’ newsdesk can check RT’s stories before they go out, to make sure none of Rupert Murdoch’s minions are offended.
The paper usefully quotes “class war,” but it’s not really obvious where that quote is from. Top investigative reporter Dominic Kennedy wasn’t in the mood to make that clear. The word ‘foment’ is not part of a quote - that is The Times’ own little addition. So essentially it appears RT is accused of putting the words ‘class’ and ‘war’ together... and saying them out loud!!!
If RT is trying to “foment class war” with its coverage of Grenfell (I asked around, and it’s not) you have to wonder what kind of war The Times is trying to ‘foment’ with its unending, sensationalist and misleading coverage of anything linked to the word Russia.

If this did happen, and it probably did because we have to trust that The Times has studied the hell out of the coverage in order to squeeze out any accusation it can, could it be that the RT reporter made a mistake? Or is it really more likely Vladimir Putin is micro-managing RT UK’s coverage of the Grenfell Tower disaster from a comfortable chair in the Kremlin? When it comes to reports accusing RT or Russia, there are no mistakes. There is no human error. There are no humans. There is only ‘fomenting.’
The article goes on: “An RT reporter said: ‘£10 million was spent on cosmetic changes to the outside of the building to make it look better for rich residents who live near by.’ In fact the £10 million figure was the cost of the entire refurbishment between 2014 and 2016, not just the cladding.
You’ll notice the story is more concerned with a misquoted figure rather than the more serious suggestion that people perished because of cladding added to improve the view for the wealthy.
Then the article gets really personal. “Afshin Rattansi, one of the channel’s presenters, asked if ‘state-backed neglect, corruption and cuts to services had led to social cleansing at Grenfell.’”
Someone asked a question. A question! The same question more or less everyone in Britain across the media was asking in the aftermath of the Grenfell disaster. Including some commentators in publications as well-respected as... oh… the Times.
But generally, The Times doesn’t like those questions about people less fortunate than its average reader, and its coverage of Grenfell 6 months on has more than a hint of class activism itself, although it’s probably fighting for the class of people living in the other parts of Kensington and Chelsea beyond Grenfell. You’ll find them in the big houses that come equipped with gardens, nannies and sprinkler systems.
Activist groups,” ”a volunteer network for victims,” “a woman who accused the local council of having blood on its hands,” are all attacked by The Times alongside RT, every one of them assigned their own little conspiracy theory, while being accused of being conspiracy theorists.   
These are groups working for the good of people caught up in a humanitarian disaster, but of course they don’t deserve your trust like The Times deserves it. Because this is the newspaper of the establishment don’t you know!
Towards the end of the report is this scathing revelation.
The channel’s [RT] reporting is influential in the Grenfell Tower neighbourhood, Lucy Knight, a volunteer in the area, told the Times. ‘People get their news from all kinds of places such as Al Jazeera and RT,’ she said. ‘There’s a sort of general feeling that the BBC don’t have quite the approach they used to in terms of journalism. The international people are more aware of the other stories that are out there.’”
Dominic! Why isn’t this the lead!? People feeling let down by the BBC are having to go elsewhere, perhaps to outlets that ask the difficult questions. Where’s the article about that?
In another expose running alongside the attack on RT, Kennedy reports on accusations that an activist fighting for Grenfell has been accused of anti-Semitism. Well in the interests of transparency, Kennedy was once forced to apologize for a tweet which said the following.
So many of the VIPS accused of being pedophiles are Jewish or gay. Maybe we could have a system to identify these people: triangles, stars ..”
The Times should stop throwing stones in its glass house and perhaps expend some effort asking why no one has been prosecuted over a disaster in London’s richest borough which cost the lives of 71 people.

Australia's war against the Truth

Strange to see this coming from the liberal Buzzfeed. As one of the main publications pushing the Russiagate agenda I would see them as an enemy of Wikileaks and other truthtellers.

Australia Seeks New Gag Laws That Could See Journalists And Whistleblowers Jailed for 20 Years

Organisations such as WikiLeaks and disclosures from whistleblowers like Edward Snowden appear to be the target.

11 December, 2014

Australian government and intelligence whistleblowers – and potentially even journalists – may face up to 20 years in jail for disclosing classified information, under the most sweeping changes to the country’s secrecy laws since they were introduced.
The Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a broad package of reforms aimed at curbing foreign interference from countries including China and Russia.
The legislation was introduced by Turnbull in the House of Representatives immediately after marriage equality passed on Thursday evening, and the otherwise full House of Representatives was emptied as celebrations were underway.
While the reforms have been flagged for many months, they were only introduced on the last sitting day of parliament this year, and go much further than previously believed.
Unexpectedly, the reforms include sweeping changes to longstanding secrecy laws, which are modelled on Britain’s Official Secrets Act.
The regime raises fresh concerns for prospective whistleblowers, journalists, and also mass leak publication sites such as WikiLeaks. A series of “aggravating” offences will also hamper large-scale leaks like those from former US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Currently, a single offence under the Crimes Act prohibits disclosures of almost any information by Commonwealth officers. This has been roundly criticised by news organisations and human rights groups, and the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has recommended changes to curb the scope of information captured by the offence. A further “official secrets” offence also potentially criminalises any disclosure, although the threshold for this offence is high and it has been rarely invoked.
Under the proposed new regime, both offences will be repealed entirely and replaced by several new offences inserted into the Commonwealth Criminal Code. While a seven-year jail sentence is the maximum available under the existing laws, this will be radically increased to up to 20 years for the most serious aggravating in the proposed laws.
The new laws will apply to anyone, not just government officials. They could easily apply to journalists and organisations like WikiLeaks that “communicate” or “deal” with information, instead of just government officials. They will also close a longstanding gap around contractors working on behalf of government agencies, who will also be subject to the new offences.
The bill’s explanatory memorandum highlights that it seeks to prevent the publication of almost any information from intelligence agencies, giving the example of salary information of officers.
“Even small amounts of such information could, when taken together with other information, compromise national security, regardless of the apparent sensitivity ... For example, even seemingly innocuous pieces of information, such as the amount of leave available to staff members or their salary, can yield significant counterintelligence dividends to a foreign intelligence service,” it said.
It lists an example of a set of circumstances particularly similar to Snowden for the aggravating offence.
Journalists will have a defence available to them if publication of information is considered to be in the public interest and is “in the person’s capacity as a journalist engaged in fair and accurate reporting”.
However, they bear an evidential burden for proving their conduct satisfies the defence.
No definition of journalist is provided in the bill, and it is unlikely to capture organisations or individuals who play a less traditional role in news gathering, such as WikiLeaks, independent bloggers, or intermediaries who pass information along to journalists but are not the original source.
It places news organisations in the position of potentially having to justify their reporting in court if a prosecution is brought against them.
An aggravated offence will also be introduced that could see a journalist or whistleblower jailed for up to 20 years. Factors for this offence include whether the information is classified as secret, if it is marked with a codeword, or if it involves the dissemination of more than five records with a security classification. That classification could be as low as "protected", a marking used broadly across hundreds of Australian government agencies.
This offence appears to be squarely targeted at curbing organisations like WikiLeaks that publish large caches of documents. It would also capture whistleblowers like former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. While the laws will not apply retrospectively, they are likely to render any future attempts by news organisations to report on highly classified matters increasingly difficult.
At first glance the proposed laws do appear to limit the type of information that could lead to a prosecution of a journalist or a source. Several of the offences are focused on protecting “inherently harmful information”.
The explanatory memorandum of the bill mentions the confusion and uncertainty around the application of the existing offences, and cites approvingly the ALRC’s review into secrecy laws.
But the proposed regime goes substantially further than the ALRC’s recommendations to wind back and simplify the offences.
Conduct defined as “inherently harmful” is extremely expansive; it includes all security-classified information, information that would or could reasonably cause harm to Australia’s interest, and certain information provided to government agencies.
This poses particular problems because of the overclassification of information within Australian government agencies. Agencies such as the Immigration Department routinely classify large amounts of information as “protected” or “confidential”, with no clear basis and limited systems of review.
It could even include, according to the explanatory memorandum, information provided to the Australian Tax Office materials or Australian Securities Investments Commission.
Further offences will also criminalise the communication or dealing with information that “causes harm to Australia’s interests”, which won’t just include information about law enforcement operations but much broader types of information as well. This includes a broad suite of information about civil and criminal law enforcement that goes far beyond just law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The explanatory memorandum of the bill acknowledges that this part of the new regime “goes beyond the ALRC’s recommendation”.
“The inclusion of the concepts of preventing, detecting, investigating, prosecuting and punishing Commonwealth criminal offences and contraventions of Commonwealth civil penalty provisions is intended to reflect the fact that the effective enforcement of the law and the maintenance of public order require the undertaking of a wide range of activities,” it said.
The definition of harming Australia’s interests is so expansive it could include disclosures that lessen the cooperation of law enforcement, cause “intangible damage” to Commonwealth and state relations, or cause a loss of confidence or trust in the federal government.
Whistleblowers who make disclosures to journalists or other individuals may be able to gain protection under the Public Interest Disclosure scheme. However, that scheme strongly favours internal disclosures and places substantial barriers and risks for people who are considering making external disclosures.
While the new regime purports to replace the offence for Commonwealth officers, it also preserves an almost identical mirror provision. The basis for this offence, according to the explanatory memorandum, is that it will take time to determine whether there is any separate information not covered by the new offences.
This means that the existing broad regime that criminalises disclosures of all criminal information will remain in place, and effectively be enhanced by the proposed offences.
Australia has faced criticism in the past for its hostility towards whistleblowers. The UN's special rapporteur for freedom of expression David Kaye has previously warned that Australians' rights and freedoms are at risk of being “chipped away.”
These secrecy offences have previously been used to target the sources of Australian journalists. Australia’s immigration department has referred journalists’ stories about the immigration detention regime on a number of occasions for investigation by the Australian Federal Police.
The Australian Federal Police has in turn admitted to accessing journalists' phone and email records without a warrant in order to attempt to track down their sources.

Drought is returning to the United States

After a Brief Respite, Climate Change Enhanced Drought is Returning to the U.S.

11 December, 2017

Unseasonable warmth across the American West and overall dry conditions across the South is causing drought to expand throughout many parts of the United States.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, most of the southern half of the United States is presently experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions. Meanwhile, an intense drought that has remained in place over the Dakotas and Montana for multiple months continues to persist.
Severe drought conditions are now present in the south-central U.S. with exceptional and extreme drought expanding through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Missouri. Deepening drought in California and Texas are notable due to the fact that Southeast Texas recently experienced record rainfall due to Hurricane Harvey and California experienced a very wet winter and spring period from 2016 to 2017. Somewhat milder drought is also spreading through the Southeast.
Re-expanding Southern California drought is also enhancing record wildfire activity in that state.
Much Warmer than Normal Temperatures
A strengthening La Nina in the Equatorial Pacific is helping to generate a drought tendency for the Southern U.S. However, various climate change related features including above normal temperatures and a persistent high pressure ridge in the West are lending intensity to the rising drought regime.
(U.S. 30 day average shows much warmer than normal conditions for the lower 48 with extreme warmth prevalent over the American West. Image source: Global and Regional Climate Anomalies.)
Over the past 30 days, temperatures for the U.S. as a whole have been 1.52 C above average (see image above). Much of this excess heat has been concentrated over the West, with mountain and Pacific regions seeing between 4 and 5 C above average temperatures.
Excess heat of this kind helps to speed the drying of soils and vegetation by increasing the rate of evaporation. A condition that can lead to flash drought — whose incidence has been expanding in lock-step with the human-forced warming of the globe.
A Ridiculous Ridge
Linked to the western heat and drought is a strong and persistent high pressure ridge. One that has hita very intense 1041 hPa pressure as of Monday afternoon over the U.S. Mountain West.
(Very intense high pressure ridge over the U.S. west is presently locking in both warmer than normal and drier than normal conditions. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)
Persistent ridging of this kind was a key feature of the recent 2012 through 2017 California drought. Some climate studies have identified a tendency of these kinds of strong western ridges to form as Arctic sea ice recedes. And during the past decade, strong high pressure ridges have been a rather consistent and significant climate feature for the U.S. West. It is also notable that formation of more powerful ridging features during the fall and winter help to strengthen the Santa Ana winds — which fan California wildfires.

Present drought is nowhere near as intense as it has been during recent years. Especially in California which during 2017 has experienced a bit of a respite. However, with La Nina gaining traction in the Pacific, with global temperatures now in a range between 1.1 and 1.2 C above 1880s averages, and with persistent ridging again taking hold over the U.S. West, the risk of a return to intense drought — especially for the Southwest — is increasing.