WEEKLY CLIMATE NEWS
- Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2017 Campaign is underway -- The eleventh in the series of GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaigns for 2017 will continue through Sunday, 19 November. GLOBE at Night is a worldwide, hands-on science and education program designed to encourage citizen-scientists worldwide to record the brightness of their night sky by matching the appearance of a constellation (Pegasus in the Northern Hemisphere and Grus in the Southern Hemisphere) with the seven magnitude/star charts of progressively fainter stars. Activity guides are also available. The GLOBE at night program is intended to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution. The next and final series in the 2017 campaign is scheduled for 9-18 December 2017. [GLOBE at Night]
- Teachers invited to join the 2018 NOAA Planet Stewards Education Project Stewardship Community -- Now called NOAA Planet Stewards Education Project, educators across the United States working with elementary through university-age students are invited to learn more about climate change and climate resilience by applying to become part of the NOAA Climate Stewards Education Project (CSEP) Stewardship Community for the 2018/19 academic year. Selected educators who meet project requirements will be eligible for:
mini-grants up to $2500 to support a climate stewardship action project;
travel reimbursements to attend select workshops and/or national conferences;
special professional development opportunities; and additional monetary and educational resources. Applications are due by midnight, Monday 27 November 2017. For more information, go to the NOAA Climate Stewards Education Project Web Site and then to the Stewardship Community Applications Page.
- Celebrate Geography Awareness Week and GIS Day -- This week (12-18 November 2017) has been identified as Geography Awareness Week. National Geography Awareness Week, launched by presidential proclamation in 1987, is designed to draw attention to geo-literacy and "the importance of geographic understanding in ensuring our nation's economic competitiveness, national security, environmental sustainability, and the livability of our communities in the 21st century." This year's Geography Awareness Week theme is “The Geography of Civil Rights Movements” designed to help educators shed light on the historical and contemporary struggles of historically disenfranchised groups who have faced and fought discrimination on the basis of age, class, disability, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
In conjunction with Geography Awareness Week, this Wednesday (15 November 2017) has been designated GIS Day, which commenced in 1999 and "provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society."
This year's theme "Discovering the World Through GIS." [ GIS Day]
- Watching a meteor shower -- This year's Leonid meteor showers should peak during the predawn hours of this coming Friday night and Saturday morning (17-18 November 2017). The Leonid meteor showers, which appear to emanate from the constellation Leo, occur in November as Earth passes through the debris trail from Comet Tempel-Tuttle. As many as 10 to 15 meteors per hour are expected this year. A new moon should provide a sufficiently dark sky for viewing, unless city lights or clouds block the sky. The shower's radiant, or originating point, will be in the eastern sky after sunset and then will shift to the west after local midnight. [EarthSky]
- A Long Polar Night -- After being above the horizon for only 52 minutes this Friday,
the sun set at 1:38 PM Alaska Standard Time (18 November 2017) at Barrow, the northernmost city in Alaska, for the last time this year. The next time the sun will rise above the local horizon in Barrow will be at 1:26 PM AST on 22 January 2018. On that date, the sun will remain above the horizon for 27 minutes. While the sun will be below the horizon for the next 65 days, residents of this city will have roughly three hours of some diffuse sunlight each day that is equivalent to civil twilight, provided the cloud cover is not too thick. To check the sunrise and sunset times of Barrow or any location in the United States go to the US Naval Observatory's on-line, interactive service for the entire year.
- Watching the seasons -- phenology observations
and climate change -- For centuries, interested citizens and
scientists have been recording the dates of recurring biological and
other natural events that appear to be related to the seasons. This
tracking of these natural cyclic events, called phenology, if extended
over many years, can be used to document how long-term changes in these
seasonal events change in response to long-term changes in climate. For
more information on recent efforts to establish a nationwide
phenological observation network and how it could be used for studying
climate change, see this week's Supplemental
Information...In Greater Depth.
- International report claims that 2017 set to be in top three hottest years, with record-breaking extreme weather -- The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently published a report entitled "The World Meteorological Organization’s provisional Statement on the State of the Climate" that has been submitted to the twenty-third session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) currently being held in Bonn, Germany. This WMO report notes that while 2017 appears to be slightly cooler than the record setting 2016, this current year appears to be on a track that may make it one of the three warmest years on record. In addition to increases in the concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases, sea level continues to rise and the sea ice extent in both the Arctic Ocean and around Antarctica has been decreasing. The report identifies several significant extreme weather and climate events in 2017 that include a very active North Atlantic hurricane season, major monsoon flooding across the Indian subcontinent and continuing severe drought in sections of east Africa.
[World Meteorological Organization Press Release]
- Low-level ozone pollution is tracked by satellite that monitors key ingredients -- Researchers at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and their colleagues at other research centers in the US, the Netherlands and Belgium have used a combination of computer models and space-based observations over sections of eastern North America, northwestern Europe and East Asia during the summer months, to determine how volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) change. While satellites do not detect low-level ozone because of stratospheric ozone, the satellites can track the VOCs and NOx [NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Feature]
- Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations reach new record levels in 2016 -- The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently released its "WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin" describing the state of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere based upon global observations through 2016.
This bulletin reported that the globally averaged atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration had reached its highest level of 403.3 parts per million by volume (ppmv) in 800,000 years. This increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide above the 400 ppmv reported in 2015 was driven by a combination of human activity and a strong El Niño event that continued into early 2016. The report also notes a 40-percent increase in radiative forcing has occurred between 1990 and 2016, which represented a warming effect on the planetary climate because of record or near record levels of other long-lived greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities. [World Meteorological Organization Media Centre]
- Recent nuisance flooding in Florida caused by "king tides" and sea level rise -- A meteorologist with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center wrote an article for ClimateWatch Magazine explaining why many coastal areas in Florida experienced minor flooding during the first weekend of November. Interestingly, the flooding occurred on sunny days that had calm conditions. This flooding was due primarily to the occurrence of a "king tide", or a relatively high astronomical tide caused by enhanced gravitational pull due to the occurrences of a full moon and perigee (close approach of Moon to Earth). In addition, relatively warm ocean waters during the fall, a slow-moving Gulf Stream and rising sea levels also contributed to this recent nuisance flooding. A plot of the maximum daily water levels near Miami, FL during the highest tide of the year (king tides) for the period between 1994 and 2017 shows a long-term rise in sea level. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion & La Niña advisory outlook updates released -- Late last week forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) that showed La Niña conditions had developed in October and early November as below average sea surface temperatures (SST) were found across most of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. SST values ranged from between one half and two Celsius degrees below normal across this region. Consequently, the CPC forecasters released their monthly El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion in which they maintained their La Niña advisory, as they envision the present La Niña conditions to persist through this upcoming Northern Hemisphere winter (December through February). They gave the La Niña an approximately 65 to 75 percent chance of continuation for the next three to four months. A technical description of the forecasters' reasoning is provided. [NOAA Climate Prediction Center]
An ENSO blog written by a contractor for CPC provides a non-technical description of how the CPC forecasters arrived at their determination of La Niña conditions through an explicit decision-making process. She also describes how the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) can influence future weather conditions across the tropical Pacific. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
Forecasters with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology recently issued an updated ENSO forecast from a Southern Hemisphere perspective. They reported a decline in sea surface temperatures across the tropical Pacific, which has stalled slightly by MJO. However, all climate prediction models indicate a continuation of La Niña conditions through the remainder of the calendar year of 2017. Therefore, they will maintain the Bureau's ENSO Outlook status at a La Niña WATCH. La Niña WATCH means approximately a 50% chance that a La Niña will form by the end of the year. [Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology]
CLIMATE AND SOCIETY
- International climate change conference is underway -- The twenty-third session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) and the thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 13) is currently being held through this Friday (17 November 2017) in Bonn, Germany. [UN Framework Convention on Climate Change]
At the opening session of COP 23, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary General Petteri Taalas showcased climate science by presenting reports on atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and the state of the Earth's climate. [World Meteorological Organization Press Release]
- Earthweek -- Diary of the Planet [earthweek.com]
Concept of the Week: Human health and
Climate scientists and other experts studying the projected
changes in the global climate have been concerned that these changes
can have potentially adverse effects upon human health. The specific
health outcomes are highly uncertain. However, according to the U.S.
Global Change Research Program's (USGCRP) Global
Climate Change Impacts in the United States Report,
several key health-related issues on the national level that could be
affected by climate are: heat issues and heat waves, air quality,
extreme weather events, heat associated diseases, pollen effects, and
One of the more obvious consequences of changes in climate is
the increased incidence of temperature-related illnesses and deaths,
especially those that would occur with heat waves, or episodes of
extreme heat. Projected increases in air temperature and rising
humidity levels across the nation during the 21st century would also be
accompanied by increased frequency and intensity of heat waves, where
air temperature and heat indices would exceed certain threshold levels
for several days. In the United States, recent heat waves have resulted
in numerous deaths, especially in large metropolitan areas. The
elderly, the poor in urban areas and those with underlying health
issues (such as diabetes and hypertension) appear to be the most
susceptible to higher air temperatures and extended heat waves. Some
models indicate that mortality rates would increase more rapidly in
northern cities, where populations are less accustomed to the
less-frequent heat waves. Using a model that includes a high emissions
scenario, the average annual number of heat-related deaths in the
Chicago (IL) metropolitan area could reach 700 by 2050 and 1200 by 2100.
Exposure to air pollution that would include a variety of gas species
and particulate matter could result in health-related problems,
especially those people with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Changes in climate could increase air pollutant exposure in several
ways. Large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns resulting in heat
waves are often stagnant, which reduce dispersion and create
environmental conditions for photochemical reactions that increases
ground-level ozone concentrations. Increased ozone has been shown to
cause reduction in lung function. These heat waves associated with
stagnant weather patterns would also increase fuel combustion for power
generation needed for air conditioning. Changes in climate could also
affect emissions of natural air pollutants and airborne allergens.
Certain health effects would be related to extreme weather
events. In addition to above-described heat waves, increases in
injuries and deaths could occur if extreme weather events such as
tropical cyclones (hurricanes or tropical storms) and floods would
increase in frequency. The disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina on New
Orleans, LA and the Gulf Coast in 2005 could serve as an example.
Water-borne diseases can be related to water contamination caused by
heavy precipitation events. A Cryptosporidium outbreak in Milwaukee, WI occurred in 1993 in which 54 people died when
the municipal drinking water supply became contaminated by sewage that
was not properly treated because of overtaxed storm sewers. Some
climate models suggest an increased incidence of extreme weather events
across the nation during a warmer 21st century, especially in the
frequency of excessive precipitation events. If improvement in the
sewerage and water treatment facilities are not made, projected increases in intense precipitation events could pose an increased health
risk to many people, especially in the Northeast and Midwest. Chicago
could have sewer overflow events going up by 50 to 120 percent in the
future. In addition to the casualties that would be directly related to
the natural disasters, such as drowning, some secondary effects to
these disasters have been suggested, including problems with public
health infrastructures and with post-traumatic stress disorder
following the event.
Increases in those infectious diseases borne by insects, ticks
and rodents could be possible with future changes in climate.
Temperature appears to serve as a major constraint on the range of
microbes and vectors, meaning that some diseases could be spread
poleward with higher temperatures. While malaria, yellow fever and
dengue fever have been nearly eradicated across the nation, some other
diseases, such as Lyme disease and encephalitis, transmitted between
humans by blood-feeding insects, ticks and mites, may occur in some
areas as the result of extended spells of warm wet winters, cold
springs. Rising temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations appear
to increase pollen production and lengthen the pollen season.
Consequently, highly allergenic pollen could pose an increased health
risk to many people.
The report also cautions that particular groups of people
could be especially vulnerable to future climate change, highlighting
the increases in the incidence of diabetes and obesity, which make
individuals more susceptible to disease or air quality or heat.
While a range of negative health impacts would be possible from future
climate change, adaptation would likely help protect the majority of
the nation's population. This adaptation would entail maintenance of
the public health and community infrastructure across the nation.
Adequate water treatment systems would help curb waterborne diseases,
while health care facilities and emergency shelters would help minimize
the impacts of heat stress, air pollution, extreme
weather events, and diseases transmitted by insects, ticks, and
- 13 November 1933...The first dust storm of the Great Dust
Bowl era of the 1930s occurred. The dust storm, which had spread from
Montana to the Ohio Valley the day before, prevailed from Georgia to
Maine resulting in a black rain over New York and a brown snow in
Vermont. Parts of South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa reported zero
visibility on the 12th. On the 13th,
dust reduced the visibility to half a mile in Tennessee. (David Ludlum)
(The Weather Channel)
- 16 November 1958...More than six inches (6.4 inches) of
snow fell at Tucson, AZ, one of the biggest ever for that location.
(David Ludlum) (The Weather Channel)
- 16 November 1959...The most severe November cold wave in
U.S. history was in progress. A weather observing station located 14
miles northeast of Lincoln, MT reported a reading of 53 degrees below
zero, which established an all-time record low temperature for the
nation for the month of November. Their high that day was one degree
above zero. (David Ludlum) (The Weather Channel)
- 17 November 1953...The temperature at Minneapolis, MN
reached 71 degrees, their warmest reading of record for so late in the
autumn. (The Weather Channel)
- 18 November 1955...An early season cold snap finally came
to an end. Helena, MT experienced 138 consecutive hours of subzero
temperatures, including a reading of 29 below zero, which surpassed by
seven degrees their previous record for the month of November.
Missoula, MT broke their November record by 12 degrees with a reading
of 23 below zero, and Salt Lake City, UT smashed their previous
November record of zero degrees with a reading of 14 degrees below
zero. Heavy snow in the Great Basin closed Donner Pass, CA and total
crop damage from the cold wave amounted to eleven million dollars.
- 19 November 1957...Nineteen inches of snow covered the
ground at Cresco, IA, a record November snow depth for the state. (The
- 19 November 1996...A 24-hour maximum precipitation record
for the state of Oregon was established when 11.65 in. of rain fell at
Port Orford. (NCDC)
- 19 November 2009...Adelaide, Australia reported a
temperature reading of 109 degrees, which set an all-time record high
for the month of November, Elliston had a 111-degree reading, which was
its all-time record for any day. The month of November 2009 was the
warmest November on record for Australia. (Accord Weather Guide
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Prepared by Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., email firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright, 2017, The American Meteorological Society.