Tagged: NOAA

Earth has its warmest May and warmest YTD on record

May 2015 was Earth’s warmest May since global record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information…NASA rated May 2015 as the 2nd warmest May on record. May 2015’s warmth makes the year-to-date period (January – May) the warmest such period on record, according to both NOAA and NASA, and it is likely that 2015 will be Earth’s second consecutive warmest year on record. Five of the ten warmest months in recorded history have occurred in the past six months, according to NOAA:

NOAA’s top ten warmest global monthly departures from average
1) 0.89°C, Mar 2015
1) 0.89°C, Feb 2015

3) 0.88°C, Jan 2007
4) 0.87°C, May 2015
4) 0.87°C, Feb 1998
6) 0.84°C, Dec 2014
6) 0.84°C, Mar 2010
8) 0.83°C, Nov 2013
9) 0.82°C, Apr 2010
10) 0.81°C, Jan 2015

Global ocean temperatures during May 2015 were the warmest on record, and global land temperatures were tied for warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures in May 2015 for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the 5th or 4th warmest in the 37-year record, according to the University of Alabama Huntsville and Remote Sensing Systems, respectively.


Click to enlargeImage credit: National Centers for Environmental Information

Departure of temperature from average for May 2015, the warmest May for the globe since record keeping began in 1880. Record warmth occurred across most of Alaska, parts of tropical South America, much of southern Africa and The Middle East, and parts of northwestern Siberia. Only part of the central United States, far west central Australia, Iceland, and part of Far East Russia observed temperatures characterized as “cooler than average” for May.

Please RTFA for lots more detail. Visiting here and reading the sources I try to reference for information on climate change puts you a couple of lightyears ahead of the papier mache, let’s-pretend-to-be-skeptics that populate the sites of conservative know-nothings who most of all fear diminishing margins for fossil fuel profiteers.

Check over on the blogroll sidebar of sites I recommend and try realclimate and 350.org.

We don’t know enough about quake, tsunami hazards, along Southern California

While their attention may be inland on the San Andreas Fault, residents of coastal Southern California could be surprised by very large earthquakes – and even tsunamis – from several major faults that lie offshore…

The latest research into the little known, fault-riddled, undersea landscape off of Southern California and northern Baja California has revealed more worrisome details about a tectonic train wreck in the Earth’s crust with the potential for magnitude 7.9 to 8.0 earthquakes. The new study supports the likelihood that these vertical fault zones have displaced the seafloor in the past, which means they could send out tsunami-generating pulses towards the nearby coastal mega-city of Los Angeles and neighboring San Diego.

“We’re dealing with continental collision,” said geologist Mark Legg of Legg Geophysical in Huntington Beach, California, regarding the cause of the offshore danger. “That’s fundamental. That’s why we have this mess of a complicated logjam…”

The logjam Legg referred to is composed of blocks of the Earth’s crust caught in the ongoing tectonic battle between the North American tectonic plate and the Pacific plate…The mostly underwater part of this region is called the California Continental Borderland, and includes the Channel Islands.

…What they were searching for are signs, like those seen along the San Andreas, that indicate how much the faults have slipped over time and whether some of that slippage caused some of the seafloor to thrust upwards.

What they found along the Santa Cruz-Catalina Ridge Fault are ridges, valleys and other clear signs that the fragmented, blocky crust has been lifted upward, while also slipping sideways like the plates along the San Andreas Fault do. Further out to sea, the Ferrelo Fault zone showed thrust faulting – which is an upwards movement of one side of the fault. The vertical movement means that blocks of crust are being compressed as well as sliding horizontally relative to each other-what Legg describes as “transpression…”

As Southern California’s pile-up continues, the plate movements that build up seismic stress on the San Andreas are also putting stress on the long Santa Cruz-Catalina Ridge and Ferrelo Faults. And there is no reason to believe that those faults and others in the Borderlands can’t rupture in the same manner as the San Andreas, said Legg…

NOAA was working on complete high-resolution bathymetry of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone – the waters within 200 miles of shore – until the budget was cut, said Legg. That left out Southern California and left researchers like himself using whatever bits and pieces of smaller surveys to assemble a picture of what’s going on in the Borderland, he explained.

“We’ve got high resolution maps of the surface of Mars,” Legg said, “yet we still don’t have decent bathymetry for our own backyard.”

Just in case our readers in the Southland didn’t have enough to worry about. :)

RTFA for the scary details.

NOAA’s newest highest-resolution weather forecast


Click to enlarge

This image, made with NOAA’s newest weather model, shows ground temperature readings at a 2 mile resolution. Each pixel is shaded according to the temperature, ranging from 113 degrees F (the brightest yellow) to freezing (white).

This colorful map of ground temperature shows the tapestry of American weather on September 30. Undeniably beautiful, it owes its rich color gradient to a powerful new scientific tool for modeling the weather for incredibly small chunks of both time and space.

After five years of work, NOAA unveiled the new model, called High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR), on September 30. Like its predecessor, HRRR will update every hour. But, HRRR fine tunes the forecast every 15 minutes by constantly digesting radar reports, so that the hourly update is as accurate as possible. Each forecast starts with a 3-D radar snapshot of the atmosphere that it modifies with data from NOAA’s vast network of weather stations, balloons, and satellites…

The graphic below shows the same weather system in HRRR (right) and its predecessor (left). In the old model, the front appears to be one, big, splotchy storm. HRRR shows that the front is actually a patchy group of storm cells, a picture that is much closer to reality.

resolution comparison

I am a weather geek in an extended family of weather geeks. Pretty much everyone including my wife has been a pilot one time or another – but me. We compare weather apps on our assorted cpus. And I can’t wait till one is available with this resolution.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

NOAAWatch — Excessive heat #1 killer weather in USA


August 2013

Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. In fact, on average, excessive heat claims more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined. In the disastrous heat wave of 1980, more than 1,250 people died. In the heat wave of 1995 more than 700 deaths in the Chicago area were attributed to heat. In August 2003, a record heat wave in Europe claimed an estimated 50,000 lives.

North American summers are hot; most summers see heat waves in or more parts of the United States. East of the Rockies, they tend to combine both high temperature and high humidity; although some of the worst heat waves have been catastrophically dry.

NOAA has a page [here’s the link] explaining warning levels and including suggestions. Read it. Save the link. Most places in the United States you will need this info sooner or later.

Thanks, Mike

Scientists preparing for major El Niño — just politicians and pundits unready

The weather is preparing to go wild, and will wreak havoc and death around the globe later this year. An El Niño, a splurge of warm water in the Pacific Ocean, is coming. It will unleash floods in the Americas, while South-East Asia and Australia face drought. Yet little is being done to address these consequences.

An El Niño begins when warm water near Indonesia spreads eastwards and rises to the surface of the Pacific. The warm water carries rain with it, so El Niño takes rain from Asia and Australia and dumps it on the Americas…

The effects can be deadly. A big El Niño in 1997-98 killed 20,000 people and caused almost $97 billion of damage.

Meteorologists contacted by New Scientist all expect an El Niño at the end of this year. And it looks like a big one, says Wenju Cai of CSIRO, Australia’s national research agency, in Melbourne. The more heat in the Pacific, the bigger the El Niño, and right now, 150 metres below the surface, a ball of warm water is crossing that ocean. “It’s huge,” says Cai.

Yet official forecasts remain cautious. As recently as 5 May, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration only said the odds of an El Niño would exceed 50 per cent this year.

The reason I’m getting round to posting this is that NOAA’s El Niño/Southern Oscillation diagnostic discussion has climbed to 65% likelihood.

Most El Niño researchers say forecasters are being too conservative. “One thing I hear over and over again is ‘we do not want to create a panic’,” says Axel Timmermann. There is a reason: forecasting a big El Niño would cause a spike in food prices. “But it may be better to have this reaction at an early stage, when farmers can still adapt, rather than later.”

The good news is that El Niño is a known quantity. “We already know what happens when a big El Niño hits,” says Zafar Adeel of the United Nations University in Hamilton, Canada. That means vulnerable populations can be identified and emergency plans put in place. But not everywhere has a plan

Wild weather is coming in 2014/15 with storms and floods, droughts and wildfires expected from region to region; but little is being done to protect people on the front line. Australian meteorologists are among the best in the world. Their government will want to prepare by cutting taxes for corporate miners, their answer for everything. India, Pakistan face the potential of a weak monsoon season which harms domestic farming. The United States faces a range of weather from drought to floods – states like California have appropriate disaster plans while the Confederacy treats weather projections almost as much of a liberal plot as they do climate change.

Frankly, the last El Niño here in New Mexico in 1997/98 brought us a lot of useful precipitation. That was before recent years’ wildfires destroyed lots of forest and natural cover which would limit flooding. And we, too, have a governor who thinks the answer to every question is tax cuts for corporations.

The coming year could be longer than expected.

Thanks, Mike

Nine maps showing ways climate change already affecting the United States

Temperature changes over the past 22 years (1991-2012) compared to the 1901-1960 average, and compared to the 1951-1980 average for Alaska and Hawai‘i. NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC.

This map is the simplest way to see global warming in action. Since the 19th century, average US temperatures have risen by 1.3°F to 1.9°F. (Note, though, there have been some fluctuations here and there: in the 1960s and 1970s, temperatures dipped, partly due to the cooling effect of sulfate pollution that was eventually cleaned up.)

Recent decades have been even hotter: since 1991, every region in the United States has been warming, with the biggest temperature increases occurring in the winter and spring.

Continue reading

Space Weather Prediction Center [Beta]

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center is pleased to debut its new website. This completely redesigned site leverages the latest web technologies to reach the broadest possible audience. As a Beta release, the site incorporates the look-and-feel of the final site with major functions and content included. It is still in development and we are adding new content and capabilities nearly every week.

The most immediately visible change is a new home page with more timely information and a more dynamic set of graphics and links. The home page is aimed at the general public rather than the experienced user.

Also, users won’t have to hunt for current conditions. A scrolling bar at the top of the home page and every other page shows the past, current and future space weather conditions using the three NOAA scales.

For experienced users and interest groups, there are direct links to pages of critical interest. These include Aviation, Electric Power, Satellite Operators, Radio Communications, Satellite Navigation, Emergency Management, etc…

Finally, we are investing substantial effort to ensure that the site is mobile-friendly. Users with portable devices will always be able to get their space weather fix.

Please, take some time and wander about. Push buttons and prod scientists with questions. It’s what they respond to. :)

Thanks, Mike

El Niño monitoring system in the eastern Pacific is failing


Nearly half of the buoys in the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean array have failed

An ocean-monitoring system that extends across the tropical Pacific is collapsing, depriving scientists of data on a region that influences global weather and climate trends.

Nearly half of the moored buoys in the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO) array have failed in the last two years, crippling an early-warning system for the warming and cooling events in the eastern equatorial Pacific, known respectively as El Niño and La Niña. Scientists are now collecting data from just 40% of the array.

It’s the most important climate phenomenon on the planet, and we have blinded ourselves to it by not maintaining this array,” says Michael McPhaden, a senior scientist at…NOAA. McPhaden headed the TAO project before it was transferred out of NOAA’s research arm and into the agency’s National Weather Service in 2005.

…Researchers from around the world will meet next week at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, to discuss possible solutions. NOAA has indicated that the agency will put additional resources into the program this coming year, but few expect that this will be enough to fully restore the array.

Wouldn’t it be a pleasant change if we repopulated Congress, the White House and relevant agencies with science-literate folks to a point where projects like this received adequate funding as readily as, say, subsidies for tobacco farmers or Exxon-Mobil?

I doubt if even a virtual sperm whale would be capable of holding its breath long enough to live to see that happen.

Southwest Airlines planes gathering weather data for NOAA

Every 12 hours, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launches weather balloons from approximately 70 locations across the US. While these do provide valuable data, a lot can change between those intervals and those locations. That’s why a new project is taking advantage of something that’s already going up in the sky on a much more frequent basis and in a higher number of locations – Southwest Airlines jets…

So far, 87 of the airline’s Boeing 737s have been fitted with Water Vapor Sensing Systems (WVSS-II) made by SpectraSensors. These are the same sensors already used on balloons, to measure moisture distribution throughout the atmosphere. By observing how that distribution changes over time, aviation weather forecasters are able to make predictions regarding things like “location and timing of fog, cloud formation and dissipation, and altitudes of cloud ceilings.”

The newly-deployed sensors will make measurements hundreds of times in one flight, as each aircraft ascends and descends through the atmosphere during take-off and landing. Readings will be automatically transmitted to the headquarters of Aeronautical Radio Incorporated, then processed and relayed to the US National Weather Service (part of NOAA) for use in weather forecasts and warnings.

The project seems to be doing well enough that it will be expanded throughout more of the Southwest fleet as part of NOAA’s Weather Ready Nation initiative.

Bravo!