Brown ocean effect

What maps would look like if they showed only solid land. The light blue indicates swamps, marshes, and wetlands.

Hurricane Ida grew quickly powerful after just a couple of days before roaring ashore and inundating people who have seen it before and likely will again:

By the time Hurricane Ida made landfall in Port Fourchon, La., on Sunday, it was the poster child for a climate change-driven disaster. The fast-growing, ferocious storm brought 150-mile-per-hour wind, torrential rain and seven feet of storm surge to the most vulnerable part of the U.S. coast. It rivals the most powerful storm ever to strike the state.

“This is exactly the kind of thing we’re going to have to get used to as the planet warms,” said Kerry Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies the physics of hurricanes and their connection to the climate.

And the recent UN Climate report aside, scientists have been talking about this for years:

previous NASA-funded research by Theresa Andersen and J. Marshall Shepherd making the case that a “brown ocean effect” — evaporation from moist warm soils — can energize tropical systems.

A NASA news release on the 2013 research explained:

Before making landfall, tropical storms gather power from the warm waters of the ocean. Storms in the newly defined category derive their energy instead from the evaporation of abundant soil moisture – a phenomenon that Andersen and Shepherd call the “brown ocean.”

“The land essentially mimics the moisture-rich environment of the ocean, where the storm originated,” Andersen said.

The map above says it all, and when we look at the photos from Sunday-Monday, listen to what we tell ourselves about what we see.

Image via the New Yorker

What You See

De Stael

‘… is what you get’ is a thoroughly misunderappreciated construct, especially if considered in terms of ‘what you look at’. While you’re here, let me try to explain.

What if your biggest decision this year was about choosing a piece of artwork for your home? No, really. What if your, let’s say, sixth largest investment for the year, this year, was to be made in a painting? No really, people do this, and not just millionaires – well, especially not them. What sort of re-ordering of priorities would it take to make this a viable scenario? Even better, imagine the necessary priorities already reflect yours; what would go into the decision? Being able to afford just whatever it was in first place, of course; but what about the work itself. Deciding on something that you like today but would also be able to live with far into the future adds certain premiums to the work, maybe includes some things you didn’t know you cared about – or maybe just not that much. But… the importance of the work to your state of mind and general well-being would be well-understood; the decision itself invests you with a non-trivial amount of higher order consideraion for what you see and do, think and feel. And, one might suppose, this is how it should be.

Because so many things are or require this kind of consideration; the work you are considering bringing into your home for the long term would be necessarily bled of concepts and ideas, which would grow stale over time. Instead the work would need to be a living part of what you do, say and feel, reliably fading into the background that forms your surroundings as easily as it elevates itself for further consideration, at times. At whose choosing? Well, yours, when you decide to bring the work into your home.

So now that you’re there – here – consider this: making choices on a scale that the atmosphere might someday notice.

image: “Nice”, 1954, by Nicolas de Stael. One of the works the Obamas borrowed from the Hirshhorn Museum and other places, for their private residence in the White House.