State of the Climate – Give yourself a update in climate knowledge

❝ An international, peer-reviewed publication released each summer, the State of the Climate is the authoritative annual summary of the global climate published as a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

❝ The report, compiled by NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at the National Centers for Environmental Information is based on contributions from scientists from around the world. It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice, and in space.

❝ This is the twenty-seventh issuance of the annual assessment now known as State of the Climate [large .pdf]. Surface temperature and carbon dioxide concentration, two of the more publicly recognized indicators of global-scale climate change, set new highs during 2016, as did several surface and near-surface indicators and essential climate variables. Notably, the increase in CO2 concentration was the largest in the nearly six-decade observational record.

No jokes about light reading. Reports designed for peer review are heavy on scientific citations. But, I still feel good about the research I went through at the turn of the Millennium with documents published by the Max Planck Institute as they worked their way towards a definitive response to discussions about climate change.

Here’s a chance to keep up with one of the best American-based global sources.

Hurricane season officially started — Republicans, Trump, still have no one in charge at FEMA or NOAA

❝ This year marks the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, the last Category 5 storm to hit Florida

The 2017 hurricane season started last Thursday without anyone in charge at the two federal agencies most involved in dealing with hurricanes…

❝ Five months after Donald J. Trump was sworn in as president, no one has taken the reins at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is in charge of preparing for and then dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane. The last FEMA boss was a Florida man, W. Craig Fugate, who departed in January after seven years on the job. Fugate previously served as the head of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Trump finally nominated someone at the end of April, but he has yet to be confirmed.

Trump meanwhile has made no move to appoint a new boss at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency in charge of the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service, which provide hurricane forecasts and hurricane warnings in advance of a storm.

❝ Incidentally, NOAA Is predicting an above-average hurricane season this year. Trump’s proposed budget has targeted both agencies for cuts.

Trump’s obeisance to Neo-Cons who couldn’t win an election on their own is notorious. Policies he wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole while campaigning are rolled out daily. Cutting services protecting as many lives as the National Hurricane Center was predictable for experienced cynics. True Believers are still clustered in prayer circles hoping for deliverance even while the anti-science brigade continues to undercut human needs.

Reality of falling oxygen levels in Earth’s oceans is worse than expected

❝ A new analysis of decades of data on oceans across the globe has revealed that the amount of dissolved oxygen contained in the water – an important measure of ocean health – has been declining for more than 20 years.

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology looked at a historic dataset of ocean information stretching back more than 50 years and searched for long term trends and patterns. They found that oxygen levels started dropping in the 1980s as ocean temperatures began to climb…

❝ The study, which was published April in Geophysical Research Letters, was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The team included researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Washington-Seattle, and Hokkaido University in Japan.

Falling oxygen levels in water have the potential to impact the habitat of marine organisms worldwide and in recent years led to more frequent “hypoxic events” that killed or displaced populations of fish, crabs and many other organisms.

❝ Researchers have for years anticipated that rising water temperatures would affect the amount of oxygen in the oceans, since warmer water is capable of holding less dissolved gas than colder water. But the data showed that ocean oxygen was falling more rapidly than the corresponding rise in water temperature.

“The trend of oxygen falling is about two to three times faster than what we predicted from the decrease of solubility associated with the ocean warming,” associate professor Taka Ito said. “This is most likely due to the changes in ocean circulation and mixing associated with the heating of the near-surface waters and melting of polar ice.”

RTFA to see where and when this leads. Unless you’re one of those Trumpkins who sucks up fake news like sugary drinks through a fat plastic straw.

Scientists are by definition and practice a cautious and conservative lot. I’m never surprised when bad news exceeds their predictions. Or, for that matter,when the cowards in Congress and the White House ignore even conservative advice.

Latest NASA Night Lights Maps


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NASA scientists are releasing new global maps of Earth at night, providing the clearest yet composite view of the patterns of human settlement across our planet.

Satellite images of Earth at night — often referred to as “night lights” — have been a gee-whiz curiosity for the public and a tool for fundamental research for nearly 25 years. They have provided a broad, beautiful picture, showing how humans have shaped the planet and lit up the darkness. Produced every decade or so, such maps have spawned hundreds of pop-culture uses and dozens of economic, social science and environmental research projects…

In the years since the 2011 launch of the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, Román and colleagues have been analyzing night lights data and developing new software and algorithms to make night lights imagery clearer, more accurate and readily available. They are now on the verge of providing daily, high-definition views of Earth at night, and are targeting the release of such data to the science community later this year.

Wow. Worth looking forward to.

Just HOW EARLY is spring arriving in your neighborhood?


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❝ How do you know when spring has begun? Is it the appearance of the first tiny leaves on the trees, or the first crocus plants peeping through the snow? The Spring Leaf Index is a measure of these early season events in plants, based on recent temperature conditions. This model allows us to track the progression of spring onset across the country. The map shows locations that have reached the requirements for the Spring Leaf Index model (based on NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction Real-Time Mesoscale Analysis temperature products).

Click through to the article and a dynamic model of this map.

NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite sends down its first images of Earth


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Since the GOES-16 satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral on November 19, scientists, meteorologists and ordinary weather enthusiasts have anxiously waited for the first photos from NOAA’s newest weather satellite, GOES-16, formerly GOES-R.

The release of the first images today is the latest step in a new age of weather satellites. It will be like high-definition from the heavens

The pictures from its Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument, built by Harris Corporation, show a full-disc view of the Western Hemisphere in high detail — at four times the image resolution of existing GOES spacecraft. The higher resolution will allow forecasters to pinpoint the location of severe weather with greater accuracy. GOES-16 can provide a full image of Earth every 15 minutes and one of the continental U.S. every five minutes, and scans the Earth at five times the speed of NOAA’s current GOES imagers.

Remember when our government and pretty much every American citizen was proud of our science, our achievements in space? Think about the creeps in charge of the White House and Congress who would rather shut this work down and go back to forecasting weather events with the entrails of chickens. Think about the fools who vote for even bigger fools who don’t want your kids to learn any science.

June set another global temperature record – in case you didn’t notice

This June has joined every other month of this year so far in setting an all-time monthly record for global temperatures, according to two separate federal science agencies — though the globe was not as extremely warm last month as it was earlier in the year.

“Warmer to much-warmer-than-average conditions dominated across much of the globe’s surface, resulting in the highest temperature departure for June since global temperature records began in 1880,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Globally averaged temperatures in June were 0.9 degrees Celsius (1.62 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the average across the 20th century, according to NOAA. That slightly surpassed temperatures measured in the prior record June of last year…

Overall, the data suggest the fading strength of the dramatic 2015-2016 El Niño event is slowly taming the record-breaking spike in global temperatures. Current Pacific Ocean conditions are neutral, with a shift into La Niña conditions expected later this year, according to NOAA…

Nonetheless, it has been a staggering run for the planet of late. “This was also the 14th consecutive month the monthly global temperature record has been broken — the longest such streak in NOAA’s 137 years of recordkeeping,” NOAA reported. Both NOAA and NASA have rated every month this year so far as a record-breaker…

Right now, 2016 is running far ahead of the prior record year, 2015, for temperatures. In a press conference Tuesday, NASA’s Gavin Schmidt, who directs the agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, provided a temperature analysis not just for June of 2016, but for the first six months of this so-far record warm year.

“This is the first time that we’re doing an analysis mid-year, mainly because the average temperatures for the first half of this year are so in excess of any first part of the year that we’ve seen,” Schmidt said.

Increases in temperature are Yuuge – except where Republicans and other Know-Nothings control the media, perception of reality for folks who don’t read beyond sports scores.

Massive array of robotic ocean probes in line for upgrade


Deploying a Deep Argo probe – click to enlarge – Core Education Ltd

Oceans can be monitored with increasing scope and quality with the use of Argo floats.

The Southern Ocean guards its secrets well. Strong winds and punishing waves have kept all except the hardiest sailors at bay. But a new generation of robotic explorers is helping scientists to document the region’s influence on the global climate. These devices are leading a technological wave that could soon give researchers unprecedented access to oceans worldwide.

Oceanographers are already using data from the more than 3,900 floats in the international Argo array. These automated probes periodically dive to depths of 2,000 metres, measuring temperature and salinity before resurfacing to transmit their observations to a satellite. The US$21-million Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling Project is going a step further, deploying around 200 advanced probes to monitor several indicators of seawater chemistry and biological activity in the waters around Antarctica. A primary aim is to track the prodigious amount of carbon dioxide that flows into the Southern Ocean…

Scientists estimate that the oceans have taken up roughly 93% of the extra heat generated by global warming, and around 26% of humanity’s CO2 emissions, but it is unclear precisely where in the seas the heat and carbon go. A better understanding of the processes involved could improve projections of future climate change.

SOCCOM, which launched in 2014, has funding from the US National Science Foundation to operate in the Southern Ocean for six years. Project scientists’ ultimate goal is to expand to all the world’s oceans. That would require roughly 1,000 floats, and would cost an estimated $25 million per year…

Meanwhile, another set of researchers hopes to extend the existing Argo array beyond its current 2,000-metre limit. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admini­stration is spending about $1 million annually on a Deep Argo project to monitor ocean temperature and salinity down to 6,000 metres. The agency deployed nine Deep Argo floats south of New Zealand in January, and is planning similar pilot arrays in the Indian Ocean and the North Atlantic.

The deep-ocean data will be particularly useful in improving how models simulate ocean circulation, says Alicia Karspeck, an ocean modeller at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. “From a scientific perspective, it’s a no-brainer,” she says — noting that the new floats are a low-risk investment compared with spending money on developing models without additional oceanographic data…

…Ship surveys — which are done on average every ten years — cannot follow how heat is taken up by the deep ocean. By contrast, Deep Argo would allow researchers to continually watch heat move through the oceans. That could lead to a better understanding of how the oceans respond to global warming — and how the climate responds to the oceans.

Sooner or later, we have to hope our Congress is revitalized by the introduction of sensible, productive politicians instead of the current predominance of do-nothings and know-nothings. There can be a time when the United States resumes the leading role we offered the world for decades.

Much of that work continues. Witness this article by Jeff Tollefson. For now, the best parallel is a schoolhouse that holds bake sales for pencils and paper when the need is for computers, tablets and broadband.

Oh.

Thanks, @jefftollef

February smashes Earth’s global heat record

On Saturday, NASA dropped a bombshell of a climate report. February 2016 has soared past all rivals as the warmest seasonally adjusted month in more than a century of global recordkeeping. NASA’s analysis showed that February ran 1.35°C (2.43°F) above the 1951-1980 global average for the month, as can be seen in the list of monthly anomalies going back to 1880. The previous record was set just last month, as January 2016 came in 1.14°C above the 1951-1980 average for the month.

In other words, February has dispensed with this one-month-old record by a full 0.21°C (0.38°F)–an extraordinary margin to beat a monthly world temperature record by. Perhaps even more remarkable is that February 2015 crushed the previous February record–set in 1998 during the peak atmospheric influence of the 1997-98 “super” El Niño that’s comparable in strength to the current one–by a massive 0.47°C (0.85°F).


Our march toward an ever-warmer planet — Click to enlarge

Because there is so much land in the Northern Hemisphere, and since land temperatures rise and fall more sharply with the seasons than ocean temperatures, global readings tend to average about 4°C cooler in January and February than they do in July or August. Thus, February is not atop the pack in terms of absolute warmest global temperature: that record was set in July 2015. The real significance of the February record is in its departure from the seasonal norms that people, plants, animals, and the Earth system are accustomed to dealing with at a given time of year…

El Niño and La Niña are responsible for many of the one-year up-and-down spikes we see in global temperature. By spreading warm surface water across a large swath of the tropical Pacific, El Niño allows the global oceans to transfer heat more readily into the atmosphere. El Niño effects on global temperature typically peak several months after the highest temperatures occur in the Niño3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific.

The weekly Niño3.4 anomalies peaked in mid-November 2015 at a record +3.1°C, so it’s possible that February 2016 will stand as the apex of the influence of the 2015-16 El Niño on global temperature, although the first half of March appears to be giving February a run for its money. We can expect the next several months to remain well above the long-term average, and it remains very possible (though not yet certain) that 2016 will top 2015 as the warmest year in global record-keeping.

Stay tuned, folks. We’ll be here as long as the fibre to the house doesn’t melt. And RTFA for more details, more links to folks keeping us up-to-date on climate change still denied by fools and the foolhardy.