California Super Bloom

This winter’s exceptional rain season is leading to stunning sites sights in California.~ctm


California’s ‘Superbloom’ of Wildflowers Looks Spectacular from Space!

By Elizabeth Howell 3 days ago Science & Astronomy

DigitalGlobe satellites were able to capture this image of a super bloom in California's Walker Canyon on March 19, 2019. (Image: © DigitalGlobe)
DigitalGlobe satellites were able to capture this image of a super bloom in California’s Walker Canyon on March 19, 2019. (Image: © DigitalGlobe)

The Landsat 8 satellite, a collaboration between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, saw “an explosion” of wildflowers that covered green areas of deserts in Southern California, and DigitalGlobe satellites caught higher-resolution images of the blooms.

The wildflowers blossomed following a wet winter in the region, NASA’s Earth Observatory reported. USGS captured the images with the Operational Land Imager on the Landsat satellite looking down near the town of New Cuyama, which is about 130 miles (210 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles. The DigitalGlobe images focused on a location about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Los Angeles.

“The colorful satellite imagery shows the hillsides along Walker Canyon, filled with blooming poppies as well as hundreds of cars parked nearby and people hiking along trails in the area,” DigitalGlobe representatives said in a statement.

Full story here.

Long personal PS from ctm to follow.

The term Super Bloom, or Superbloom, seems to have not had much common usage before 2016 as you can see from this Google Trends graph.Screenshot 2019-04-03 12.44.34

I first heard of a Super Bloom in this Los Angeles Times article.

For many years I had wanted to drive through Death Valley during the early spring to see wildflowers in the desert.  I had never heard of a Super Bloom and it seemed like the perfect opportunity.  Within five hours I was on a plane bound for Las Vegas, hotels and rental car booked.  Here are some pictures from that trip.IMG_1653IMG_1710IMG_1727IMG_1751IMG_1886IMG_1888

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bill mckibben
April 5, 2019 6:02 pm

incredibly beautiful

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  bill mckibben
April 5, 2019 7:07 pm

Yes it is Bill. And one of the things that makes it possible (besides the rain) is the CO2 level in the atmosphere. Think about that.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
April 5, 2019 7:37 pm

and a warmer world has a more robust hydrologic cycle.It’s basic physical chemistry of elevated evaporation from the oceans and the Clausius–Clapeyron equation for water vapor saturation as a function of temperature.
Colder is markedly drier, as verified by the dust levels that mark the glacial periods of the Pleistocene.
Much of Amazonia was grassland during the LGM. Warmer is wetter. The Holocene Temperature Optimum was marked by robust rainfall around the world.
Why anyone thinks the recent LIA is something we want the world to return to is baffling.

Doc Chuck
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
April 6, 2019 12:14 am

Actually here in southern California we’ve been getting recurrent warm front moisture-bearing cloudiness from the eastern Pacific Ocean just to our southwest all winter (and did again yesterday), but a low pressure center must drag a subarctic cold air mass southward offshore of the continental U.S. to interface with those warm front clouds over us (as had recurred several times in recent rainy months) if we are to get much more than the trace of precipitation we’ve had over the past 24 hours, when that water vapor must await being condensed to rain where it can indeed encounter the necessary cold front elsewhere on the continent off to our east.

Reply to  Doc Chuck
April 6, 2019 1:18 am

Maybe all those Monarch butterflies will return form “extinction” now.

Richard G.
Reply to  Doc Chuck
April 6, 2019 12:46 pm

The recovery of Monarchs will happen when people stop killing milkweed with herbicides.
Monarch eggs and larvae require milkweed for propagation. One species’ ‘weed’ is another species’ vital reproductive link.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
April 6, 2019 1:28 am

Joel wrote: “a warmer world has a more robust hydrologic cycle. It’s basic physical chemistry of elevated evaporation from the oceans and the Clausius–Clapeyron equation for water vapor saturation as a function of temperature.”

Actually the situation is far more complex than that. ECS is tightly linked to changes in the hydrologic cycle. If ECS is 1.1 K/doubling, the planet is behaving like a gray body (W = eoT^4) and emitting an addition 3.3 W/m2 for every degK it warms (3.3 W/m2/K). (3.7 W/m2/doubling)/(3.3 W/m2/K) = 1.1 K/doubling. The planet’s climate feedback parameter is the increase in emission of OLR plus reflection of SWR per degK of surface warming. A climate feedback parameter of 1.0, 2.0 and 3.3 W/m2/K translates to an ECS of 3.7, 1.85, and 1.1 K/doubling, roughly consistent with the expectations of AOGCMs, EBMs, and gray bodies with no feedbacks except Planck feedback. Pick your preferred value.

What does this mean for the hydrologic cycle? If evaporation increases at 7%/K, then the flux of latent heat from the surface rises 7%/K * 80 W/m2 = 5.6 W/m2/K. However, you can’t have an increase 5.6 W/m2/K entering the atmosphere from below in response to warming when only 1.0, 2.0 or 3.3 W/m2/K are leaving through the TOA as increased OLR (depending on your preferred value for ECS.

This problem can be alleviated by letting more SWR across the TOA by reducing cloud cover. About 100 W/m2 of incoming SWR is reflected; 2/3rds by clouds. So a 1%/K reduction in clouds lets in 0.7 W/m2/K more SWR. 1%/K is fairly big change for a planet that was 6 K cooler during the LGM. 1 W/m2/K is about the maximum AOGCMs predict for positive SWR cloud feedback.

So, decreasing reflection of SWR can probably contribute up to 1 W/m2/K to closing the gap between 5.6 W/m2/K entering the bottom bottom of the atmosphere and 1.0, 2.0 and 3.3 W/m2/K leaving the top. Radiation is no help: OLR emitted from the surface and DLR arriving at the surface both increase at the same rate and cancel. So it appears energetically impossible for evaporation to increase at 7%/K unless our ideas about ECS are grossly wrong.

The rate of evaporation is proportionals to wind speed and “undersaturation” (1-RH) of the air over the ocean. In AOGCMs, the rate at which the atmosphere turns over SLOWS with warming! Trade winds associated with the Hadley circulation slow. Relative humidity over the ocean rises because vertical convection/turnover has slowed. This reduces the increase in the rate of evaporation (and precipitation) to about 2%/K = 1.6 W/m2/K. Subtract 0.6 W/m2/K of positive SWR cloud feedback and you’ve got an AOGCM with an ECS of 3.7 K/doubling.

Over land, evaporation may still increase in parallel with saturation at 7%/K. If precipitation increases only 2%/K, land could get 5%/K drier despite more precipitation.

The LGM was 6 K cooler. At 2%/K, that would be only 12% less precipitation – globally. Regional change in the Amazon could be different.

Of course, there is no reason to believe that AOGCMs correctly model this slowdown in atmospheric overturning/convection. Evaporation/precipitation could increase at 3%/K, or 4%/K, or more. If so, ECS must go down (and/or, less likely, cloud SWR feedback must be unexpectedly positive). These phenomena are linked by conservation of energy.

The C-C equation applies only to saturation vapor pressure at equilibrium, not evaporation. Evaporation depends on wind speed and undersaturation. No evaporation occurs when the air is saturated and undersaturation is 0%. Negligible evaporation occurs with no wind to turbulently mix the air. Without turbulent mixing, the only process that can transport water vapor adjacent to the surface is (absurdly slow) molecular diffusion.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
April 6, 2019 1:39 pm

you just jumped to the global button, when and where actually California is just regional.
Maybe you correct, but needs more than one small region to conclude in means of global being the same, I think.
Besides, it consist with a boost in hydrologic cycle during winter season, mostly as snow!
Just saying.


Pop Piasa
Reply to  bill mckibben
April 5, 2019 8:02 pm

Yes, the Camaro is gorgeous! 😍 (just kidding, but cool car, Charles)

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
April 5, 2019 8:53 pm

By the way, the flowers are Desert Gold (Geraea canescens). 🤓

Reply to  Pop Piasa
April 6, 2019 2:34 pm

Bah… had some kid in a Camaro cut me off and rush down the road the other day. He managed to “find” the State Trooper working radar in the construction zone. The funny bit? In Florida, speeding fines are doubled when workers are present. I just snickered and motored on by.

Stephen Singer
April 5, 2019 6:09 pm

Very Colorful Yellow flowers and shrubbery.

mario lento
Reply to  Stephen Singer
April 5, 2019 7:14 pm

Reply to  mario lento
April 6, 2019 5:51 am

It suddenly occurs to me that the Knights who go Neep? are a lot like environmentalists.

They start out with what sounds like reasonable requests that the majority of people can’t really argue against, but once they get those they escalate their demands until they are requesting things that simply are not physically possible, and then they claim your the evil person who wants to destroy the planet.

R Shearer
April 5, 2019 6:17 pm

Egads, it’s worse than I thought.

Bill Powers
Reply to  R Shearer
April 6, 2019 7:05 am

Right? Wouldn’t it be nice if the alarmists drones would stop and smell the wildflowers. The world hasn’t ended yet. Enjoy it while you can. There is a high degree of probability that this could go on for a whole lot longer than 12 more years.

April 5, 2019 6:29 pm

What’s happening in the areas that burned?

Reply to  Chris4692
April 5, 2019 8:42 pm

At least in Malibu, they are rebounding like crazy. Wildflowers and grasses everywhere, and the trees that survived are popping.

Bryan A
Reply to  ShanghaiDan
April 5, 2019 8:49 pm

Basically…Nature doing what Nature does best

Reply to  Chris4692
April 5, 2019 11:26 pm

It wouldn’t surprise me if the image of the hills covered with orange California Poppy have more to do with being burned that heavy rains. California Poppy is a classic post-fire wildflower. Maybe Jim Steele could comment?

Reply to  Chris4692
April 6, 2019 12:42 pm

The downside to this explosive vegetation growth is the certain spike in wildfires in the fall. There is a lot more fuel being produced this year.

Another big downside…those fires will all be blamed on climate change.

JimH in CA
April 5, 2019 6:34 pm

Hey, up here in the NorCal foothills, we get wildflower blooms like this EVERY year.
It has not failed to rain enough to meet our needs for the 16 years I’ve lived here and get a huge bloom of 100 wildflowers from Feb. to May..

April 5, 2019 7:17 pm

The poppies are the best. Fields of colors. If this is AGW CC then what’s the bad part?

April 5, 2019 7:49 pm

“…stunning sites in California.”

Can we get a sightation for that?

April 5, 2019 7:54 pm

Sorry to be a wet blanket, Charles the M, but according to the US National Park Service, there is no ‘superbloom’ in Death Valley this year. As of April 1st anyway, although given the day maybe the USNP is pulling our legs:

“The park is NOT experiencing a superbloom in the lower elevations of Death Valley.”

Just a regular desert blooming after a wet winter is pretty nice though and well worth a visit.

Reply to  DaveW
April 5, 2019 11:16 pm

Please delete this duplicate comment. I was clumsy this morning.

Pop Piasa
April 5, 2019 7:59 pm

In a few days here in flyover country we will be seeing our empty fields turn purple with Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) here on the Hollerback Ranch. Some of the neighboring tracts in our section turn bright yellow with Butterweed (Packera glabella), so the whole countryside tends to be an easter patchwork from the air for the time-being until planting starts. I wish I had a picture to share.
The countrysides are beautiful throughout the whole hemisphere right now and getting better.
To steal Joe Bastardi’s thunder… Enjoy the Spring, it’s the only Spring you get. 🌷🌱🌼🌺
(By the way, I have feed bags full of red Canna bulbs to give away if anybody wants some.)

April 5, 2019 8:17 pm

Sorry to be a wet blanket, Charles the M, but according to the US National Park Service, there is no ‘superbloom’ in Death Valley this year. As of April 1st anyway, although given the day maybe the USNP is pulling our legs:

“The park is NOT experiencing a superbloom in the lower elevations of Death Valley.”

Just a regular desert blooming after a wet winter is pretty nice though and well worth a visit.

Reply to  Charles Rotter
April 5, 2019 11:19 pm

Also, hillsides covered with California Poppy are also consistent with a fire the previous year. I wonder if the areas shown in the photo were burned.

Clyde Spencer
April 5, 2019 8:18 pm

Back sometime in the ’70s, I was on a field trip in Death Valley during what was a ‘superbloom.’ There was about one wild sunflower per square meter on the alluvial fans. What I personally found even more astounding was that each of the plants had at least one caterpillar that looked like a fat, tomato horn-worm. I can understand the flower seeds remaining dormant for years, but where did the caterpillars come from?

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
April 5, 2019 9:05 pm
Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
April 6, 2019 7:05 am

but where did the caterpillars come from?

Clyde S, …… the same question is asked about the Great Basin spadefoot toads.

Great Basin spadefoot toads

Spadefoot toads are especially interesting, ….. They’re one of the most successful amphibians living in areas with not much water like deserts.”

These amphibians have shovel-shaped back feet with a sharp-spade like structure. That’s how they burrow backward into the soil when the water dries up on the surface. Once they’re deep in the dirt, five to ten feet deep, they stay there until Mother Nature produces another puddle. That could be five to ten years.

Read more about these toads here

April 5, 2019 8:22 pm

Obvious this is all due to so-called Extreme Weather brought about by our profligate emissions from fossil fuels. How beautiful and horrible at the same time. The Warmists and Alarmists must be having conflicts of interests – at least during this wonderful Spring season

April 5, 2019 10:50 pm

Here’s what gets me. This is the second super bloom in three years. And everyone loves it. Hikes, photos, smell the flowers! Imagine that this was the second super hurricane/forest fire/drought in three years. Do you know that the media would be bleating? “This is the shitty world that your irresponsible actions have wrought on the earth.”
Funny that no one has mentioned “climate change” as a reason for acres and acres of beautiful flowers so vast they are visible from space.

April 5, 2019 11:40 pm

More on California Poppies and fire – I really wonder if one can believe anything one reads in the media? Anyway, attributing the ‘superbloom’ to just winter rains is likely misleading and quite possible not really true.

Winter rains in deserts do lead to spectacular wildflower displays, but deserts don’t have enough vegetation to burn well and the spectacular annual displays are primarily due to rainfall events – same in Western Australia as in the SW USA. That is my understanding.

Peta of Newark
April 6, 2019 2:13 am

Lots of scientific (also Social anthrogenic ones) points in here..
ctm – you *did* take along a little solar power meter and get some albedo estimates/measurements – I’m fair itching for when the rapeseed around here comes into flower. Its coming and I’ve still got my old welding mask handy for when it does ‘Come on song’

1.1) Poppies have come, thanks to WW1, to symbolize Death and Destruction. Seemingly, one whole tonne of high explosive – PER SQUARE METRE of ground was dropped, fired, shot, launched, thrown into onto the Somme battlefield.

1.2) That is why the poppies came. These small black seeds can and do remain viable for centuries BUT, it is not especially rain that triggers them into growth. Yes they need water obviously but the real trigger for them is exposure, no matter how brief, to light. Even moonlight is sufficient. That tells the seed it is close enough to the surface that if it does germinate, it might make it into the sun.
So, What disturbed the soil here? Possibly some VERY heavy rain or a particularly strong wind from an unusual direction. Ooops, getting too close to cAGW and or climate gas gassing change……..

2.1) The biggest trap here and lots of folks are eager to race right into it. They are talking, shouting, making news, spreading and creating Urban Myth & Legend here.
Because, let’s imagine we are 2 centuries down the line – will the folks then be talking about and using the Little Super Bloom Age and using it to pick fights with each other?
About how Floral, Super and Blooming it was.
Compare to the Little Ice Age and how Frugal, Starving and Brutish *it* was
Ah but you say, we have pictures of the LIA.

Yes we do, just like we now have pictures of the Little Super Bloom Age.
People do not take photos, paint paintings, spread excitement and create ‘news’ about the boring everyday and humdrum.

Get my point?
Maybe the Little Ice Age was nowhere near as bad as its cracked up to be.

And I’d assert, that story was riddled with fakery and exaggeration even just after the event.
Recall this recent story:
See that painting at the top of the story.
My questions…
What is a rich merchants house from 17th or 18th century Vienna doing in a situation like that. At the bottom of a mountain with a cow in the field. Bizzarre.
Next and star of the show is The Glacier.
Very lovely but where is it coming from and what is making it?
Not only is there no snow on the mountains its coming from but those mountains have greenery growing on them = even more bizarre.
The artist in there was working from an Urban Myth, story and legend.
Just as per the famous painting of the Ice Fair on the Thames in London.

Just like now and the Super Bloom, everyday boring events do not get recorded for posterity..
The Thames Ice Fair was a rare and exciting thing.

Right back to my query of ctm and taking a solar power meter to look for albedo of any all various and different landscapes, my theory goes that it is the plants which, to a very great extent, control The Climate
The man Koppen agrees with me in many places.

What especially got me going was the personal disbelief that a green growing field of wheat could have such a high albedo – up to 0.45 and actually increasing as the field seemingly gets darker thorugh application of nitrogen fertiliser. I HAD to see for myself and so it does.
Compare to a newly ploughed field with albedo of 0.1

The ploughed field is absorbing 900watts per square metre at solar noon, the green wheat field ‘only’ 550watts per square metre.
In (sun) light of that….
Are you still going to claim that differences in the output of Old El Sol, differences of less than 0.1 watt per square metre, control climate?
Is it still & really beyond belief that innocent guys with tractors, ploughs, paddy fields, fertiliser, Roundup and grazing sheep are not responsible for the presently recorded, noted, reported, adjusted, mangled, exaggerated, fretted & worried about Changes In The Global Climate?

Here was/is the chance for the Citizen Scientist to prove or disprove

Rhys Jaggar
Reply to  Peta of Newark
April 6, 2019 2:38 am

I would say the seeds were probably on the surface from the last time a plant grew and went to seed. What is going to bury them? Deserts do not have annual growth of grass do they?

So the likely explanation is that they simply lay where they fell waiting for the next time it rains. Maybe some were covered in a very thin layer of soil derived from the organic matter of the last flowers to grow.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Peta of Newark
April 6, 2019 8:06 am

Peta of Newark – April 6, 2019 at 2:13 am

1.2) That is why the poppies came. These small black seeds can and do remain viable for centuries BUT, it is not especially rain that triggers them into growth. Yes they need water obviously but the real trigger for them is exposure, no matter how brief, to light.

To the attention of the science miseducated, ……… “DUH”, seed germination is not “triggered” by phototropism.

Peta, you should be careful when posting such wild satire as you did in your above post …… because some viewers might actually believe you know what you are talking about and mimic one or more of your comments to convince others that it is factual info/data.

April 6, 2019 6:33 am

Flowers in the desert? It’s worse than we thought! 😉

April 6, 2019 10:38 am

I went for a long drive yesterday morning here in Tuolumne County, and it was truly spectacular. Wild turkeys and dear, satisfied cattle, green grass, burgeoning rivers and a myriad of wild flowers. Great blue Herons, hawks… It’s why I stay here in California. It’s a truly magnificent place.

Jim Whelan
April 6, 2019 1:39 pm

Driving from San Diego on I-15 through Elsinore last month and the Poppies made the hills look like the glow of sunset. The Golden Poppy deserves its place as California’s state flower.

April 6, 2019 2:28 pm


Stunning sites? Perhaps. Or sights.

April 6, 2019 7:24 pm

Couldn’t help myself:

Why Honey Bees Forage in California Poppies

Just the messenger.

April 6, 2019 10:08 pm

Charles the Moderator – could you please ask someone like Jim Steele who knows this habitat to comment on ‘rains=superbloom’? Walker Canyon is chaparral and coastal scrub, not desert, and it burned in September 2018 (or so Google tells me). As far as I can tell, the satellite pictures have everything to do with fire and not much to do with winter rains (although enough rain after the fire would need to have fallen – it is the clearing of the shrub cover and the flush of nutrients that produce a poppy bonanza after a fire). You can see the chaparral that didn’t burn in the sheltered canyon sides in the picture. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think the article you linked has confounded a post-fire wildflower bloom with a desert response to good winter rains. Well, I could be wrong, it is a long time since I worked in Southern California, but desert wildflower ‘superblooms’ are not the same as fire flowers.

Johann Wundersamer
April 11, 2019 5:06 am

bot. marguerite (daisy) [Argyranthemum frutescens, syn.: Chrysanthemum frutescens]

bot. common daisy [coll.] [Leucanthemum vulgare, syn.: Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, etc.]

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