WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
22-26 August 2016
Items of Interest:
- Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2016 Campaign resumes -- The ninth in a series of GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaigns for 2016 will commence on Thursday (25 August) and continue through Friday, 2 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 2016 campaign is scheduled for 22 September - 1 October 2016. [GLOBE at Night]
- Free admission into the National Parks -- This upcoming weekend (Thursday, 25 August 2016 through Sunday, 28 August) has been designated by the National Park Service as fee-free days in honor of its 100th Birthday. This fee waiver will cover entrance and commercial tour fees in many of the national parks and monuments administered by the Park Service. [National Park Service Fee Free Days]
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the Tropics --
During the last week several named tropical cyclones (low pressure systems that form over tropical ocean waters, with near surface maximum sustained winds that intensify to tropical storm or hurricane force status) had developed in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean basins of the Northern Hemisphere:
- In the North Atlantic basin, a tropical depression formed early last week over the eastern tropical waters of the basin several hundred miles of the western coast of Africa. On late Wednesday (local time) this system intensified into Tropical Storm Fiona, the sixth named tropical cyclone of 2016, approximately 920 miles west of the Cabo Verde (or Cape Verde) Islands.
Fiona traveled generally toward the west-northwest through the rest of the week and into this past weekend with little significant intensification. As of this past Sunday afternoon, Tropical Storm Fiona was located approximately 680 miles to the northeast of the Leeward Islands. Current forecasts indicate that Fiona could weaken to a tropical depression by late Sunday as it would continue its travels toward the west-northwest. Consult the NASA Hurricane Page for more information and satellite imagery on Tropical Storm Fiona.
- In the eastern North Pacific basin, a tropical depression formed near Socorro Island off the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula, last Thursday afternoon. Early Friday morning this tropical depression had intensified to become
Tropical Storm Kay, the eleventh named eastern Pacific tropical cyclone of 2016. Over this past weekend, Kay traveled generally toward the northwest next two days with some modest intensification. As of Sunday morning Tropical Storm Kay was located approximately 325 miles to the west-southwest of Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. Current forecasts indicate that Kay should continue traveling to the northwest before curving toward the west-northwest on Monday, accompanied by a weakening into a remnant low by Tuesday. The NASA Hurricane Page has satellite images and additional information on Tropical Storm Kay.
- In the western North Pacific basin,
Tropical Storm Chanthu continued traveling to the north toward the eastern coast of Japan's main island of Honshu, accompanied by heavy rain and gusty winds. As of Wednesday (local time) Chanthu was weakening and becoming disorganized as it passed over northern sections of the island of Hokkaido.
See the NASA Hurricane Page for images and additional information on Tropical Storm Chanthu.
At the midpoint of last week the tenth tropical depression of 2016 in the western Pacific formed near Guam and then quickly became Tropical Storm Mindulle. Initially Mindulle headed toward the northeast before turning toward the north as it intensified. As of Monday (local time) Mindulle was approaching the southeastern coast of the Japanese island of Honshu. Current forecasts indicate that Tropical Storm Mindulle should make landfall in southeastern Honshu early this week and continue traveling to the north and north-northeast passing over the Tokyo and Sendai metropolitan areas. Flooding rain and gusty winds were anticipated. Consult the NASA Hurricane Page for additional information on Tropical Storm Mindulle and accompanying images.
A tropical depression formed late last week over the waters of the South China Sea near China's Hainan Island. Traveling westward, this tropical depression passed to the north of Haikou, China and then later became Tropical Storm Dianmu as it generally traveled to the west across the Gulf of Tonkin before making an eventual landfall on the northeastern coast of Vietnam near Hanoi by the end of last week. Additional information and satellite images for Tropical Storm Dianmu are available from the NASA Hurricane Page.
Another tropical depression formed late in the week
and then became Tropical Storm Lionrock approximately 600 miles to the east-southeast of Yokosuka, Japan. Over this past weekend Lionrock traveled generally toward the west-southwest. As of Monday (local time) Tropical Storm Lionrock was headed toward Okinawa during this upcoming week. Intensification to a typhoon status (equivalent of a hurricane) was possible. Satellite images and additional information are available on the NASA Hurricane Page for Tropical Storm Lionrock
Tropical Storm Kompasu formed at the start of this past weekend
to the southeast of Japan's island of Honshu. During the weekend Kompasu traveled to the northwest before making landfall Sunday night (local time) in southern Hokkaido as a tropical depression. Locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds spread across northern Honshu and eastern Hokkaido because of Kompasu.
- Hurricane season in eastern Pacific becoming more active -- A NOAA contract scientist wrote an article discussing how the eastern North Pacific basin experienced a slow start to its hurricane season, but since the start of July, ten named tropical cyclones (including tropical storms and hurricanes) have developed in the basin. The beginning of the 2016 eastern Pacific season was below-average, with Tropical Storm Agatha forming on 2 July, one of the latest starts since 1971 (the beginning of the satellite surveillance era). A record-tying number of ten named cyclones developed during the month of July. However, the recent activity has raised the 2016 hurricane season into an above-average one. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
- Global temperature and ice cover for July 2016 reviewed -- Scientists at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
(NCEI) recently reported on their analysis of preliminary weather data collected during the month of July 2016:
- The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for July
2016 was the highest for any July since sufficiently detailed global climate records
began in 1880. This record global temperature was nearly 62 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.57 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th
century (1901-2000) average.
In addition to being the warmest July on record, this recently concluded month was the warmest of any of the 1639 months that constitute the record with an average temperature edging out the previous record monthly high temperature set in July 2015 by 0.11 Fahrenheit degrees. When considered separately,
the average air temperature temperature over the world oceans for July 2016 was the highest for any July since
1880, while the temperature over land surfaces was also the highest July reading on record.
- The researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center noted the areal extent of the Arctic sea ice
for July 2016 was
the third smallest for any July since satellite surveillance began in 1979. The extent of the Antarctic sea ice was the nineteenth smallest July ice
extent in the 38-year record. [NOAA/NCEI
State of the Climate]
- A global map of Selected Significant Climate Anomalies and Events for July 2016 is available from NCEI.
- New Seasonal Climate Outlooks for fall issued -- Near the end of last week, forecasters at the NOAA
Climate Prediction Center (CPC) released their new national Three-Month
(Seasonal) Climate Outlooks new three-month seasonal national climate
outlooks for September through November 2016, corresponding to the meteorological autumn season (in the Northern Hemisphere). Specific details of
their outlooks include:
- Temperature and precipitation outlooks -- According to their temperature
outlook, all of the 48 contiguous United States along with Alaska should have a better than even chance of experiencing above average temperatures for the upcoming three months of autumn. The regions with the best chances for warmer than normal conditions would be across the southern Rockies, the Gulf Coast including the Florida Peninsula, across the Northeast and nearly all of Alaska except for the interior.
outlook calls for better than even chances of dry conditions
for the autumn of 2016 across the the Southeast, centered upon the Tennessee Valley, and across sections of Great Basin in Nevada and the Sierras of California. A large section of the northern Plains and the northern Rockies centered on eastern Montana and western North Dakota were considered to have a good chance of a wet three-month span. The rest of the 48 contiguous states should have equal chances
of below and above average autumnal precipitation.
of the prognostic discussion of the 3-month outlook for
non-technical users is available from CPC. These forecasts were based
in part that the current ENSO-neutral conditions (meaning no significant El Niño or La Niña event were occurring) were expected to begin a transition into a weak La Niña that would continue through the early winter. A description is also provided as how to read these 3-class, 3-month Outlook maps.
- Seasonal Drought Outlook -- The
forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center also released their US
Seasonal Drought Outlook last week that would run from
late-August through November 2016. Their outlook would call for
persistence of drought conditions across the West (California, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona) and the Northeast (New York State, Pennsylvania and southern New England). A large area of the Southeast (the Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and the Carolinas) could see development of drought or continuation of current drought conditions. A few scattered areas across the Southwest and the nation's midsection could experience some improvement in drought conditions. Some of these areas, especially in sections of Arizona. New Mexico and Texas could have drought conditions removed.
Note: a Seasonal
Drought Outlook Discussion is included describing the
forecasters' confidence in their Drought Outlook.
- First national water forecast model is launched -- Early last week, NOAA's National Weather Service launched and began running its "National Water Model," a new forecasting tool that is intended to simulate water flow through the nation's river ways in an effort to improve flood forecasting. This new hydrologic model, which was developed by NOAA scientists and colleagues at National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and other academic research institutions, is being run on NOAA's powerful new Cray XC40 supercomputer. Data from more 8000 USGS stream gages from the 48 contiguous United States along with Multi-Radar/Muti-Sensor System (MRMS) radar-gauge observed precipitation data serve as input information into the model that will simulate flow conditions for 2.7 million locations across the "lower 48 states" and generate hourly forecasts for the entire river network. Statistics for several additional water variables, such as soil moisture, runoff, stream velocity, and other parameters, will be generated for up to 30-day ensemble forecasts. [NOAA News]
Additional information on the "National Water Model," which is also known as the WRF-Hydro model (WRF stands for Weather Research and Forecasting), is available from the perspective of the designers at NCAR. [NCAR/UCAR AtmosNews]
- Airborne survey made of methane emissions in Four Corners area of the Southwest -- A team of scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NOAA, Cal Tech and the University of Michigan recently conducted an extensive survey of the Four Corners area of the Southwest (where Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico meet) using airborne spectrometers to determine the magnitudes of the emissions of methane gas into the atmosphere in this region. Their study found that just ten percent of the individual methane sources are contributing half of the emissions. Some sources emitted as much as 11,000 pounds of methane per hour into the atmosphere. [NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Feature]
- Meteor showers as viewed from space -- Images of several meteors passing through Earth's upper atmosphere in July were obtained from METEOR, the Meteor Composition Determination, experiment onboard the International Space Station (ISS). [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Space agency monitors the "new normal" for polar sea ice -- A sea ice scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center recently assessed the status of the areal extent of sea ice cover over the Arctic Ocean as the time when the typical occurrence of the summertime sea ice minimum approaches in late September. He contends that after relatively rapid spring ice loss through May, the rate of melt slowed in June, which could result in the extent of this year's Arctic sea ice not setting a new minimum record. However, he does note that low levels of sea ice are becoming the "new normal" as compared with even a decade ago. [NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Feature]
- New information concerning health hazards of "vog" is available --The US Geological Survey (USGS) and interagency partners from the National Park Service, the state and county of Hawaii and the United Kingdom's Durham University have produced several new informational products concerning the health hazards of volcanic air pollution known in Hawaii as "vog" (a combination of "volcanic" and "smog") that describes a visible haze containing mostly sulfur dioxide gases and acid particles. In addition to a booklet and brochure, these new products include a web-based "Hawaii Interagency Vog Information Dashboard" that provides direct links to a wide range of vog resources, including current vog forecasts and air-quality information. [USGS News]
- Assessing baseball uniforms and summer heat -- Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Director of the University of Georgia's (UGA) Atmospheric Sciences Program, former AMS President and baseball fan, recently wrote an article in which he describes some of the "odd things" about major league baseball uniforms when viewed from a meteorologist's perspective. He discussed the use of baseball pants and the dark umpire uniforms even during the hottest time of the year. Dr. Shepherd also provided links to a study involving heat illness and death in sports as well as useful information on proper hydration, the exertional heat illness warning signs and recommended actions to be taken. [Forbes Science]
- Cloth masks found to provide little protection against air pollution -- Environmental health scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst recently reported that they have found inexpensive cloth masks worn by people across Asia in an attempt to reduce their exposure to air pollution tend to vary in effectiveness and could give users in highly polluted areas a false sense of security. [University of Massachusetts Amherst News]
- Groundwater recharge in Upper Colorado River Basin projected to remain steady as climate changes -- A recently released study produced by the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the US Bureau of Reclamation projected future groundwater recharge in the Upper Colorado River Basin (upstream of Lees Ferry, AZ) between 2016 and 2099 based upon recent historical recharge data for the 1950-2015 time period using a groundwater recharge model along with down-scaled climate data from 97 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 climate projections. Currently, more than half of the streamflow in the Upper Colorado Basin originates from groundwater that is water that percolates into the soil from rain and snow. Approximately 90 percent of the streamflow in the entire Colorado River Basin originates in the Upper Basin. Simulated future Upper Colorado groundwater recharge is generally expected to be greater than the historical average in most future decades as a consequence of projected increases in precipitation. These anticipated increases would offset potential reductions in recharge that would result from projected increased temperatures. These groundwater recharge projections are important to sustainably manage both groundwater and surface water supplies in the Colorado River basin into the future. [USGS News]
- Thin mid-level tropical clouds may cool climate -- Researchers from Sweden's Stockholm University and Florida's University of Miami recently reported that thin "mid-level" clouds found at altitudes of approximately 5 km may be more pervasive across tropical latitudes than previously thought and they may have a considerable cooling effect on the climate. These conclusions were based upon analysis of observed data collected by satellites and by high-resolution numerical modeling. The researchers note that this cooling effect of mid-level clouds is currently missing in most global climate models. [Department of Meteorology Stockholm University News]
- Pondering the influence of climate change as Louisiana floods -- Adam Sobel, an atmospheric and climate dynamics professor at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory recently wrote a article in which he discusses the lack of formal attribution studies that are needed to determine if the current flooding of historic magnitude across southern Louisiana can be attributed to climate change. [Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory News]
Additional information on this flooding is available. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Damage assessment of Louisiana flooding is underway -- At the start of last week the National Geodetic Survey was beginning to collect aerial damage assessment imagery across Louisiana in the wake of the historic flooding across the state. These images are being collected in those areas that have been identified by FEMA and the National Weather Service. [NOAA National Ocean Service News]
- Changes in Pacific sea level used as a predictor of global temperature change -- Geoscientists at the University of Arizona and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently reported that the using the patterns of rise in the sea level of the Pacific Ocean can be used to estimate future global average surface temperatures. The researchers used observed sea level changes obtained from data collected since 1993 by the collection of NASA, NOAA and European satellites. They believe that sea surface height provide a more accurate reflection of the heat stored in the entire ocean water column than sea surface temperatures. [University of Arizona News]
- Venus may have been habitable in ancient past -- Scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) recently reported that their computer modeling simulations of Venus' ancient climate indicates that the planet may have a had a shallow liquid-water ocean along with habitable surface temperatures during as much as the first two billion years of its existence. These simulations were run using a model similar to the one used to predict future climates on Earth. [NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies 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]
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Prepared by Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., email email@example.com
© Copyright, 2016, The American Meteorological Society.