WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
12-16 August 2013
Items of Interest:
- Use Twitter to ask questions of forecasters at NOAA's National Hurricane Center -- The public is invited to ask the staff of NOAA's National Hurricane Center via Tweet Chat questions concerning hurricane forecasting and preparedness this coming Tuesday, 13 August 2013. The season will begin at 2 PM EDT on the @NOAALive Twitter feed using hashtag #HurriChat. [NOAA News]
- How volcanic eruptions impact climate and aviation -- A fact sheet was produced by "Earth Gauge" (an initiative by the National Environmental Education Foundation and the American Meteorological Society) that identifies how volcanic eruptions impact climate and human activity, such as aviation. This sheet also provides links to live webcams for some of the potentially active volcanoes that are found along the Cascade Range extending from northern California northward into southern British Columbia and in Hawaii. Links are also provided to the US Geological Survey's Volcano Alerts network. [Earth Gauge]
- NOAA's Barrow (AK) Observatory celebrates 40 years of monitoring carbon gases in Arctic -- In late July, NOAA's atmospheric observatory at Barrow, AK celebrated its 40th anniversary for taking measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide with a continuous analyzer. These measurements, which are made at the nation's northernmost city, provide a record of the increases in carbon dioxide that are slightly higher than those made at NOAA's other measurement sites, such as at Hawaii's Mauna Loa and at American Samoa. [NOAA News]
- Revised Statement on Climate Change published by American Geophysical Union -- The American Geophysical Union (AGU), a professional organization of more than 61,000 geophysicists in 146 countries, recently revised its position statement on climate change that was adapted in December 2003 and subsequently revised and reaffirmed in 2007 and 2012. The current revised statement, which is based upon recent data analysis and research, indicates that humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years and that this change requires urgent action. This AGU statement advocates for a set of policy priorities that include both climate adaptation and mitigation planning and activity. [NOAA News]
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the tropics --- During the last week the weather across the tropical North Atlantic basin was relatively quiet with no organized tropical cyclone activity, while several tropical cyclones were moving across the eastern, central and western sections of the North Pacific:
- In the eastern North Pacific Basin, tropical depression Gil continued its westward travels at the start of last week. At the end of the previous week, Gil had become the fifth hurricane of the season in the eastern Pacific and was rated a category-1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. By last Tuesday, Tropical Depression Gil moved across longitude 140 degrees West, the boundary between the eastern and central basins of the North Pacific. At that time, Gil intensified, briefly becoming a tropical storm before it turned into a post-tropical cyclone approximately 935 miles to the east-southeast of Hilo, HI. For additional information along with satellite images on former Hurricane Gil, see the NASA Hurricane Page.
Tropical Storm Henriette intensified to become a category 2 hurricane by midweek as it traveled initially to the west-northwest and then west across the eastern North Pacific. By late in the week, this hurricane entered the central North Pacific basin as it gradually turned to a direction that was toward the west-southwest. By this past weekend, Henriette weakened to a tropical storm and then to a tropical depression before becoming a post-tropical cyclone as it passed within 430 miles to the south-southwest of South Point on the Big Island of Hawaii on Sunday afternoon. The NASA Hurricane Page has additional information on Hurricane Henriette, including a satellite image that shows two other low pressure areas were being watched for further development.
- In the western North Pacific, Tropical Storm Mangkhut formed at the start of last week over the waters of the central South China Sea between the Philippines and the central coast of Vietnam. Taking a track that was slightly to the south of what Tropical Storm Jebi took the previous week, Mangkhut traveled to the northwest passing to the south of China's Hainan Island and into the northern Gulf of Tonkin before making landfall in the northeastern provinces of Vietnam approximately 90 miles south of Hanoi by midweek. Satellite images and additional information on Tropical Storm Jebi can be found on the NASA Hurricane Page.
During the second half of last week, Tropical Depression 11-W formed at least 780 miles to the east of Manila in the Philippines. By the weekend, this depression quickly intensified to a tropical storm and then a typhoon called Utor as it traveled to the west-northwest toward the Philippine Island of Luzon. By Sunday (local time), Typhoon Utor had become a super typhoon as maximum sustained surface wind speeds were nearly 150 mph as it was approaching Luzon. Forecasts indicated that Utor would pass across Luzon and then continue across the South China Sea early this week, possibly reaching the southern China coast near Hainan Island by midweek. The NASA Hurricane Page had some preliminary information on Super typhoon Utor while it was Tropical Depression 11-W.
- NOAA updates its Atlantic hurricane season outlook -- Late last week, forecasters at
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center(CPC) issued their updated Atlantic hurricane season outlook, which calls for a 70 percent chance of an above-normal season for named tropical cyclones across the North Atlantic basin that also includes the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. This update is similar to their earlier outlook made in the "pre-season outlook" made in May and includes the activity that has occurred this season to date due to Tropical Storms Andrea, Barry, Chantal, and Dorian. Specifically, the updated outlook calls for 3 to 19 named tropical cyclones (maximum sustained surface winds of 39 mph or higher), including 6 to 9 hurricanes (maximum winds of 74 mph or higher), of which three to five could be major hurricanes (Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, with winds of at least 111 mph). These ranges are above the 30-year seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. The August outlook update continues to project an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season because of high sea surface temperatures, low wind shear, and above normal convection in western Africa. However, the update contained a slight reduction in the upper range in the number of anticipated major hurricanes made in May (three to six). This reduction was motivated by the decreased likelihood for development of La Niña conditions that would have reduced wind shear; the lack of hurricanes through July; more variability in the wind patterns across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and slightly lower hurricane season model predictions. [NOAA News] Note: A satellite derived image shows the distribution of sea-surface temperatures across the entire North Atlantic basin in early August. [NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory]
- El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion-- NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society recently released their El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion in which they found a persistence of ENSO-neutral conditions (with neither an El Niño nor La Niña event) during July 2013 as near-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) continued across the central and east-central equatorial Pacific, while slightly below-average SSTs were detected in the eastern Pacific. Since the ENSO-neutral conditions were anticipated to continue (60 percent chance or greater) through this upcoming Northern Hemisphere autumn (September through November 2013), NOAA's ENSO Alert System Status remains "Not Active." [NOAA CPC/NCEP/NWS and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society]
- State of the climate examined for 2012-- Last week, NOAA, in coordination with the American Meteorological Society, released a peer-review report entitled the 2012 State of the Climate that reported the globally averaged land and ocean temperature for 2012 was being ranked as either eighth or ninth highest, with the ranking depending upon the temperature time series used. Furthermore, the United States and Argentina reported their warmest year on record. This 23nd annual State of the Climate report was complied by an interdisciplinary team of 384 scientists from 52 nations and is based on the measurements collected by a global network of environmental monitoring stations and instruments onboard satellite platforms of global scale climate data sets and not upon model projections. Therefore, the report provides a detailed update on numerous global-scale climate indicators, notable weather events and other data. Summaries of the annual climate were prepared for more than 120 countries and territories. The scientists reported that the end of a weak La Niña event and unprecedented warmth in the Arctic influenced climate conditions across the globe in 2012. In addition to the temperature and precipitation trends and patterns, the report noted that many extreme events occurred at regional and local levels, including historic drought, record flooding, major heat waves and numerous tornado outbreaks. [NOAA News]
- NOAA's Annual Greenhouse Gas Index shows 2012 was a record year
-- Scientists at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory recently reported that the NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI) continued to increase in 2012, resulting in a record year with a value of 1.32. The AGGI is a dimensionless index, based on measurements of the concentrations of various greenhouse gases from the agency's global air sampling network, . The AGGI determines the direct climate influence of many long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that are added to the atmosphere by human activity, measured as a percentage of the base or "index" year of 1990. Consequently, the 2012 AGGI value of 1.32 means the combined heating effect of long-lasting/human-caused emissions with that of existing gases trapped in the atmosphere has increased by 32% since 1990. [NOAA Research News]
- Montreal Protocol yielded unforeseen climate benefits -- A recent study reports that the implementation of the 1987 Montreal Protocol designed to phase out the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in order to limit the destruction of the Earth's protective stratospheric ozone layer has also prevented a disruption of global rainfall patterns because of potential changes in the atmospheric circulation regimes associated with a diminished ozone layer. [The Earth Institute, Columbia University]
- "Ozone hole" appears to contribute to slight warming of planet Earth -- A team of scientists from Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and other research institutions have run computer models indicating the reduced amounts of stratospheric ozone especially over the polar caps commonly called the "ozone hole" result in a slight increase in the global average temperature because of the effect of the diminished ozone upon the winds. The researchers claim that the presence of the Antarctic "ozone hole" has been responsible for shifting wind patterns that push clouds farther toward the South Pole, which would result in increases in absorbed solar radiation as less is reflected by the clouds. [AGU Press Release]
- NASA's "Firestation" to study lightning from International Space Station -- An instrument developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center called "Firestation" was recently sent to the International Space Station by a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's transfer vehicle called Kounotori-4. Once mounted on the outside of the Space Station by the end of the month, Firestation will help study lightning in the Earth's atmosphere and its relationship to huge gamma ray bursts called terrestrial gamma ray flashes (TGFs) that may occur as frequently as 500 times per day worldwide. [NASA Goddard Space Flight Center]
- Human activity appears to muddy causes of Texas floods -- Scientists from the University of Iowa and Princeton University claim that the periodic flooding found in Texas over the last 70 years cannot be firmly linked to changing climate as the presence of numerous dams and other structures constructed by humans have affected the catchments and river regulation, and thus the record of flood peaks. The Lone Star State is one of the most flood-prone states in the nation, leading the country in flood-related deaths and injuries between 1959 and 2005. More than 7,100 permitted dams are found in Texas, with some 2,000 of them designed for flood control. [Iowa Now]
- Soil organic carbon is "blowing in the wind" Down Under -- An international team of experts in wind erosion and dust emission recently calculated the extent of the organic carbon compounds that are being emitted into the atmosphere from carbon- and nutrient-rich topsoil by wind erosion and dust storms. The study determined that in Australia, an estimated 1.6 million metric tons of carbon are lost by these dust emissions per year. Some of the carbon returns to the ground, while the rest leaves the continent with most falling into the ocean. The researchers point to the underestimation of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by this process. They also noted that in the Northern Hemisphere, the redistribution of soil organic carbon by soil erosion could be substantial in countries such as China and the United States [CSIRO News]
- Past climate is a key to predicting future climate ....-- Scientists at the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science and their colleagues from Yale University and the University of California system have been studying fossil records to determine how changes in climate in ancient times (10,000 years ago or earlier) have caused various plant and animal species to interact with one another, which would ultimately help the scientific community identify ways to predict future changes in species interactions. [Appalachian Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science]
- An All-Hazards Monitor-- This Web portal provides the user information from NOAA on
current environmental events that may pose as hazards such as tropical
weather, fire weather, marine weather, severe weather, drought and
- Earthweek -- Diary of the Planet [earthweek.com] Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.
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Prepared by Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., email firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright, 2013, The American Meteorological Society.