WEEKLY OCEAN NEWS
18-22 September 2017
For Your Information
- National Estuaries Week continues --The National Estuaries Week that started this past Saturday (16 September) will run through this week and conclude this coming Saturday, the 23rd. National Estuaries Week, which was first organized in 1988, is designed to celebrate promote the importance of estuaries and how the public benefits from healthy, thriving the coastal ecosystems. During this week, organizations from around the nation including the non-profit Restore America’s Estuaries member groups, NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserves and EPA's National Estuary Programs will be organizing special events, such as workshops, beach clean-ups, hikes and trips involving canoes and kayaks.
- Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2017 Campaign is underway -- The eighth in the series of GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaigns for 2017 will continue through Thursday, 21 September. 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 (Cygnus in the Northern Hemisphere and Sagittarius 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 series in the 2017 campaign is scheduled for 11-20 October 2017. [GLOBE at Night]
- The Autumnal Equinox --The Autumnal
Equinox will occur early this coming Friday afternoon
(officially at 2002Z on
22 September 2017 or 4:02 PM EDT or 3:02 PM CDT, etc.). At that time the
noontime sun will appear directly above the equator, representing one
of the two times during the year for such an occurrence, with the other
being at the vernal equinox in March. The term "equinox" arises from
the fact that this time of year represents "equal night" and equal day
essentially everywhere. Within the subsequent several days, the length
of daylight will become noticeably shorter. This decrease in daylight
will continue for another three months to the winter solstice during
the morning of Thursday, 21 December 2017.
Editor's note: John White, a meteorologist from
North Carolina involved with the AMS Education program, reported that
the geosynchronous (or geostationary) satellites make an "satellite
eclipse" of the sun near the spring and autumnal equinoxes because of
their equatorial orbit, such that these satellites pass through the
earth's shadow and the satellite is powered down when the solar array
does not receive sufficient sunlight. [For more information, consult NWS
Southern Region GOES Satellite FAQ] EJH.
If you check the sunrise and sunset times in your local newspaper or from the climate page at your local National Weather Service Office, you would probably find that early next week the length of time when the Sun is above the local horizon would be precisely 12 hours at most locations. By the end of next week, the length of night will exceed that of the length of daylight. The effects of atmospheric refraction (bending of light rays by the varying density of the atmosphere) along with a relatively large diameter of the sun contribute to several additional minutes that the Sun appears above the horizon at sunrise and sunset.
- September is National Preparedness Month -- The month of September has been declared National Preparedness Month (NPM), which aims to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies, including natural disasters. NPM is managed and sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Administration's (FEMA) Ready Campaign in conjunction with the Ad Council, A toolkit of marketing materials is provided to help promote the month and represents the lead on this campaign that was originally launched in 2004. The overarching theme for 2017 NPM is "Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.," with an emphasis on preparedness for youth, older adults, and people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.
Week 3 of the 2017 NPM (17-23 September) the theme is "Practice and Build Out Your Plans." [FEMA's Ready.gov]
- Reconstructing past oceanic conditions from marine
sediment cores -- If you would like information on how
scientists can reconstruct past environmental conditions in the oceans
from the analysis of the physical, chemical and geological data in
deep-sea sediment cores, please read this week's Supplemental
Information...In Greater Depth.
Ocean in the News
- Eye on the tropics --- During the last week tropical cyclone activity continued in the Atlantic and Pacific basins of the Northern Hemisphere:
- In the North Atlantic Basin (that also includes the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico), Hurricane Irma traveled northward along the western or Gulf Coast of the Florida Peninsula at the start of last week after making one landfall along the Florida Keys on Sunday morning and on Marcos Island and the Naples metropolitan area during the midafternoon. By early Monday morning, Hurricane Irma had weakened to a tropical storm when it was located approximately 30 miles to the north-northeast of Cedar Key, FL. By late Monday night, Tropical Storm Irma had weakened to a tropical depression as its center had reached within five miles of Columbus, GA. The NASA Hurricane Page has more information and satellite imagery on Hurricane Irma. A high-resolution geocolor image of Hurricane Irma was made from data collected by the NOAA GOES-16 satellite when Irma, a category 4 hurricane (on the Saffir-Simpson Scale) at the time, was passing across the eastern coast of Cuba during the previous weekend. A geocolor image displays standard GOES data that includes customized day/night backgrounds and makes a seamless transition from daytime (visible) to nighttime (infrared) imagery. [NASA Image Feature]
Hurricane Jose, a category 3 hurricane, was traveling toward the northwest at the start of last week, passing to the east-northeast of Grand Turk Island. During the following three days, Jose continued to weaken as it made a loop, first heading to the east, then to the southeast, south and finally to the west-northwest. As of Thursday morning Jose had weakened to a tropical storm as it was located approximately 450 miles to the east-northeast of the southeastern Bahamas. On Friday morning, Jose had intensified to become a hurricane again, as it was located approximately 640 miles to the south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, NC. Hurricane Jose continued toward the north, several hundred miles off the Atlantic coast of the US over the weekend. As of early Sunday evening, Hurricane Jose was a category 1 hurricane that was heading toward the north, approximately 335 miles to the southeast of Cape Hatteras. Current forecasts have Jose continuing northward on a projected track that would have it remain offshore of New England. Jose should remain a hurricane through Tuesday.
The NASA Hurricane Page has satellite images and additional information on Hurricane Jose.
Tropical Depression 14 (TD-14) formed over the eastern Atlantic early Friday (local time) nearly 400 miles to the south-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands. Moving generally toward the west-northwest, this system intensified to become Tropical Storm Lee by late Saturday afternoon. Traveling to the west-northwest as a minimal tropical storm during the overnight hours, Lee weakened to a tropical depression by Sunday afternoon as it was located approximately 900 miles to the west of the Cabo Verde Islands. Tropical Depression Lee was expected to continue its travels toward the west-northwest and weaken to a remnant low by late Monday. See the NASA Hurricane Page for information on TD-14 before it became a Tropical Storm Lee.
The fifteenth tropical depression of 2017 formed last Saturday afternoon approximately 700 miles to the east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles. By early Saturday evening, this tropical depression had strengthened to become Tropical Storm Maria as it traveled toward the west. On Sunday, Maria continued strengthening as it began a slow turn toward the west-northwest. As of early Sunday evening, Maria had intensified to become the seventh Atlantic hurricane of 2017 as it was moving toward the west-northwest approximately 140 miles to east-northeast of Barbados. Current forecasts suggest that Maria could strengthen possibly to a major hurricane by Monday night as it would pass across the Leeward Islands.
- In the eastern North Pacific basin (to the east of the 140 degrees west meridian of longitude), Tropical Storm Max formed from a tropical depression last Wednesday afternoon off the southwest coast of Mexico, approximately 115 miles to the west-southwest of Acapulco, Mexico. Traveling toward the east-northeast, Max strengthened to become the seventh hurricane of 2017 in the eastern North Pacific basin on Thursday morning as it was located 55 miles to the southwest of Acapulco. Continuing to the east, Hurricane Max made landfall as a category 1 hurricane (on the Saffir-Simpson Scale) along the coast of the Mexican state of Guerrero to the southeast of Acapulco late Thursday afternoon, accompanied by torrential rains. Moving inland over the high terrain of southern Mexico, Hurricane Max weakened to a tropical storm and then a tropical depression. As of early Friday morning, Max had become a remnant low 125 miles to the east of Acapulco.
Satellite images and additional information on Hurricane Max are available on the NASA Hurricane Page.
Tropical Storm Norma
formed last Thursday afternoon approximately 150 miles to the southeast of Mexico's Socorro Island. Traveling toward the north, Norma became a hurricane on Friday evening. Over the weekend, Hurricane Norma continued traveling toward the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. However, Norma weakened to a tropical storm by Saturday afternoon. By Sunday afternoon, rainbands from Tropical Storm Norma were approaching the Baja as the center of this system was approximately 140 miles to the south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, which is located at the southern tip of the Baja. The center of Norma was forecast to pass just to the west of the Baja Peninsula on Monday, bringing torrential rains, strong winds and life-threatening high surf to the Mexican State of Baja California Sur. Norma could weaken to a tropical depression by early Tuesday.
Tropical Storm Otis formed
from a long-lived tropical depression that had traveled slowly westward this past Saturday afternoon. At that time, Otis was located approximately 1200 miles to the west-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. This tropical depression had developed on the previous Monday afternoon approximately 500 miles to the west of Manzanillo, Mexico and was identified as Tropical Depression 15E (TD-15E). Otis continued to travel westward over the weekend, with some strengthening. As of Sunday, Tropical Storm Otis had made a turn toward the north. By midafternoon on Sunday, Otis had strengthened to become the ninth hurricane of 2017 in the eastern Pacific as it was situated approximately 1200 miles west of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Current forecasts indicate Otis should continue toward the north or north-northwest on Monday, with some possible strengthening before beginning to weaken. Consult the NASA Hurricane Page for additional information on TD-15E before it became Tropical Storm Otis.
- In the western North Pacific basin (to the west of the International Dateline), Tropical Storm Talim was traveling toward the west-northwest across the waters to the north of Yap at the start of last week. During the course of the week, Talim intensified to become a typhoon and then a major category 4 typhoon on the Saffir-Simpson Scale by midweek as maximum sustained surface winds reached in excess of 135 mph. Later in the week, Talim weakened to a tropical storm as it curved toward the northeast, tracking across the main Japanese islands. By late Sunday, Tropical Storm Talim was located approximately 150 miles to the north-northwest of Yokota Air Base, located near Tokyo, Japan. Current forecasts indicate Talim should continue traveling to the northeast across the northern Japanese islands over the first several days of this week.
A satellite image of Typhoon Talim obtained from the MODIS sensor on NASA's Terra satellite is available from NASA Earth Observatory.
Tropical Depression 21W formed to the east of Manila, the capital of the Philippines at the start of last week. During the next several days, this tropical depression traveled to the west and west-northwest across the Philippines and the South China Sea, intensifying to become tropical storm and then a typhoon. As Typhoon Doksuri headed for the coast of Vietnam, it intensified to become a category 3 typhoon on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. By the end of the week, Typhoon had made landfall along the central Vietnam coast, accompanied by torrential rains and strong winds. As many as four fatalities were reported. [Reuters]
Additional information and satellite images for Typhoon Doksuri are available from the NASA Hurricane Page.
- Questions asked about some possible records that accompanied Hurricane Harvey --
Deke Arndt, the Chief of the Climate Monitoring Branch at NCEI, recently posted his "Beyond the Data" blog that addresses five questions concerning the weather and climate across the nation during August 2017, focusing upon the possible records associated with Hurricane Harvey. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Deep ocean observations to be expanded due to assistance from a philanthropic organization -- Earlier this month, a public-private partnership was formed between Paul G. Allen, Microsoft co-founder and founder of Paul G. Allen Philanthropies, and NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory that is intended to deploy a large array of new deep ocean floats, which will expand ocean observations in a key area of the western South Atlantic Ocean. These new Deep Argo buoys will probe the great ocean conveyor belt or global thermohaline circulation that drive large-scale weather and climate patterns. [NOAA Media Release]
- El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion -- NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) recently released their El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion that showed ENSO-neutral conditions were observed during the month of August 2017, meaning that neither an El Niño or La Niña event was underway as near- to below-average sea surface temperatures (SST) were found across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific during this past month. In addition, near-surface trade winds were stronger in the western equatorial Pacific and convection was also suppressed across this region. Most of the forecast models indicate a continuation of ENSO-neutral conditions through the Northern Hemisphere's 2017-18 winter (December-February). However, recently run models suggest the possibility for development of La Niña conditions starting as early as this fall (September-November). Consequently, forecasters at CPC have issued a La Niña watch, which indicates an increasing chance (~55-60%) of La Niña developing during the Northern Hemisphere fall and winter 2017-18. An ENSO blog written by a CPC contractor describes the ENSO-neutral conditions that continued into early September and why her colleagues at CPC decided to post a La Niña watch for the upcoming autumn and winter months. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
A detailed and more technical El Niño/Southern Oscillation Diagnostic Discussion with supporting maps and charts is available from CPC.
Forecasters with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology recently issued an updated ENSO forecast from a Southern Hemisphere perspective. They reported continuation of ENSO-neutral conditions. However, they foresee a possible cooling, which could result in a transition to La Niña conditions by the end of the calendar year of 2017, which corresponds to Southern Hemisphere summer. [Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology]
- Phytoplankton blooms in South Atlantic seen from space -- Images of the waters of the South Atlantic offshore of the Brazilian state of São Paulo were recently obtained from data collected by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) onboard NASA's Landsat 8 satellite. These images show phytoplankton bloom appearing as thin dark strands in the otherwise turquoise Atlantic coastal waters. According to researchers at the University of São Paulo, the dark colors may be associated with a particular species of dinoflagellates. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Focus upon accomplishments of NASA's aging GRACE mission -- A feature article was recently produced that describes how the twin GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellites, which were launched in 2002 as a collaborative effort of NASA and the German Aerospace Center, DLR, have been collecting data on the Earth's gravitational field. These twin satellite orbit Earth at an altitude of 286 miles, detecting subtle gravitational changes. This article explains how the data collected by the GRACE mission have been used to identify seasonal and other long-term climate and human-caused changes in water mass between the various hydrologic reservoirs within the Earth system. [NASA Global Climate Change News]
Following a four-day loss of contact with one of the GRACE satellites due to an age-related issue, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are making plans to make an anticipated final science collection of data between mid-October and early November from the satellite mission that was only expected to last five years after its launch in 2002. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- An All-Hazards Monitor-- This Web portal provides the user information from NOAA's National Weather Service, FAA and FEMA on
current environmental events that may pose as hazards such as tropical
weather, fire weather, marine weather, severe weather, drought and
floods. [NOAA/NWS Daily Briefing]
- Earthweek -- Diary of the Planet [earthweek.com]
Concept of the Week: Variations in Marine
Sediments are particles of organic or
inorganic origin that accumulate in loose form in depositional
environments such as lake or ocean bottoms. Marine sediments, the
central focus of this week's investigations, have a variety of sources
and exhibit a wide range of composition, size, and shape. Marine
sediments settle to the ocean floor as unconsolidated accumulations but
ultimately may be converted to solid sedimentary rock via compaction
and cementation. The pattern of variations in marine sediment thickness
on the ocean floor confirms some basic understandings regarding marine
Go to the RealTime Ocean Portal and
under "Geological," click on "Sediment Thickness." This map of marine
sediment thickness in the ocean basins was compiled by the National
Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), Marine Geology and Geophysics Division
primarily based on existing maps, ocean drilling, and seismic
reflection profiles. Sediment thickness is color-coded in meters from
violet (thinnest) to red (thickest). Many factors account for the
variation in the thickness of marine sediment deposits including type
and location of sediment sources, sediment transport mechanisms, and
the age of the underlying crust.
According to the map, sediment thickness generally increases
with distance from near the central portion of an ocean basin to the
continental margin. This pattern may be explained by the principal
sediment source and/or the age of the underlying crust. Rivers and
streams that empty into the ocean slow and diverge, releasing the bulk
of their suspended sediment load in coastal environments (e.g., bays,
estuaries, deltas) and onto the continental shelf. Ocean currents
transport sediment along the coast. In some areas of the continental
shelf, massive amounts of sediment accumulate, become unstable, and
flow down the continental slope to the base of the continental rise and
beyond. However, only the finer fraction of river-borne sediment is
swept into the deep ocean waters. Thickening of marine sediments in the
direction of the continental margin may also reflect the aging of
oceanic crust with distance away from divergent (spreading) plate
boundaries where new oceanic crust forms. The older the crust the
longer is the period that sediment rains down on the ocean bottom and
the thicker is the blanket of accumulated sediment.
The map indicates that the thickness of marine sediment
deposits is greater in the continental margin along the Atlantic coast
of North America than along the Pacific coast. The Atlantic coast of
North America is a passive margin; that is, the
continental margin is not affected significantly by tectonic processes
(no plate boundary) and the principal geological processes consist of
sedimentation along with erosion by ocean waves and currents. In fact,
passive margins and relatively thick marine sediment deposits occur on
both sides of the Atlantic. (Passive margins also occur around the
Arctic Ocean and surrounding Antarctica.) On the other hand, the
Pacific coast of North America is an active margin;
that is, the continental margin is associated with plate boundaries and
is subject to deformation by tectonic stresses. Active continental
margins are relatively narrow so that sediment delivered to the coast
by rivers and streams flows directly into deeper water or
trenches--preventing thick accumulations of marine sediments from
building in the continental margin.
- 18 September 1926...The great "Miami Hurricane" produced
winds reaching 138 mph, which drove ocean waters into Biscayne Bay
drowning 135 persons. The eye of the hurricane passed over Miami, at
which time the barometric pressure dropped to 935.0 millibars (27.61
inches of mercury). Tides up to twelve feet high accompanied the
hurricane, which claimed 372 lives. (David Ludlum) (The Weather
- 19 September 1559...The first hurricane in recorded U.S. history hit Pensacola, FL. As many as seven Spanish expedition ships may have been destroyed. (National Weather Service files)
- 19 September 1957...Bathyscaph Trieste,
in a dive sponsored by the Office of Naval Research in the
Mediterranean, reached a record depth of 2 miles. (Naval Historical
- 19 September 1967...Hurricane Beulah deluged Brownsville,
TX with 12.19 in. of rain in 24 hrs, to establish a record for that
location. Hurricane Beulah made landfall on the 20th near the mouth of the Rio Grande River, where a wind gust of 135 mph
was reported by a ship in the port. (19th-20th)
(The Weather Channel)
- 20 September 1519...Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan
set sail from Spain in an effort to find a western sea route to the
rich Spice Islands of Indonesia. In October 1520, he passed through the
straits that now bear his name separating Tierra del Fuego and the
South American mainland and became the first known European explorer to
enter the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic. In September 1522 one
remaining ship from the original five that set sail returned to Spain,
to become the first ship to circumnavigate the globe. Magellan was
killed in the Philippines in 1521. (The History Channel)
- 20 September 1909...A strong hurricane made landfall in
southeastern Louisiana. A 15-ft storm surge flooded the Timbalier Bay
area. Some 350 people perished. (Intellicast)
- 21 September 1938...The "Great New England Hurricane"
smashed into Long Island and bisected New England from New Haven, CT
across Massachusetts and Vermont, causing a massive forest blowdown and
widespread flooding. Winds gusted to 186 mph at Blue Hill Observatory
in Milton, MA, and a storm surge of nearly 30 ft caused extensive
flooding along the coast of Rhode Island. The hurricane killed over 600
persons and caused $500 million damage. The hurricane, which lasted
twelve days, destroyed 275 million trees. Hardest hit were
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Long Island NY. The "Long
Island Express" produced gargantuan waves with its 150 mph winds. Waves
smashed against the New England shore with such force that
earthquake-recording machines on the Pacific coast clearly showed the
shock of each wave. (David Ludlum) (The Weather Channel)
- 21 September 1989...Hurricane Hugo made landfall on Isle of Palms, SC as a Category 4 hurricane. This storm brought strong winds to many areas of South Carolina. In Downtown Charleston, sustained winds of 87 mph were reported; along with gusts of 108 mph. Total damage from this hurricane is estimated at $10 billion, including $5.2 billion in the United States. (National Weather Service files)
- 22-23 September 1998...Hurricane Georges raked Hispaniola
leaving over 580 dead in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, due mainly
to flash flooding and subsequent mud slides in high terrain regions.
Damage estimates from the storm exceeded $1 billion (US). (The Weather
- 23 September 1551...The Grand Harbour at Valetta, Malta was
hit by a waterspout that then moved inland and caused extensive damage.
A shipping armada in the harbor about to go into battle was destroyed
by the waterspout killing at least 600 people. (The Weather Doctor)
- 23 September 1815...One of the most powerful hurricanes to
strike New England made landfall initially on Long Island, NY and then
again at Old Saybrook, CT before crossing into Massachusetts and New
Hampshire. Extensive structural damage resulted. Providence, RI was
flooded and six people were killed. This "Great September Gale" was the
worst tempest in nearly 200 years, equal in strength to the Great 1938
Hurricane, and one of a series of severe summer and autumn storms to
affect shipping lanes that year. (David Ludlum)
- 24 September 1493...Christopher Columbus set sail with 17
ships on his second expedition to the New World, reaching the Lesser
Antilles, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola before
returning to Europe in March 1496. (Wikipedia)
Return to RealTime Ocean Portal
Prepared by Ocean Studies Central Staff and Edward J. Hopkins,
© Copyright, 2017, The American Meteorological Society.