WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
12-16 March 2018
This is Break Week for the Spring 2018 offering of this course. This Weekly Weather and Climate News and the Historical Weather Events files contain new information items, but the Supplemental Information ...In Greater Depth files are repeated from last week.
Items of Interest:
- Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2018 Campaign for March is underway -- The third in the series of GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaigns for 2018 will continue through Saturday, 17 March. 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 with the seven magnitude/star charts of progressively fainter stars. These constellations are Leo for latitudes equatorward of 30 degrees latitude in the Northern Hemisphere and Canis Major for all latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere. Activity guides are also available. The GLOBE at night program is intended to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution. The fourth series in the 2018 campaign is scheduled for 6-15 April 2018. [GLOBE at Night]
- Flood Safety Awareness -- Many locations around the nation annually experience spring floods that cause large monetary losses and occasionally the loss of life. Check the website http://www.floodsafety.noaa.gov/ for information concerning flooding caused by excessive rain events, rapid snowmelt, ice jams and debris flow, along with useful flood safety and mitigation measures. Georgia, New York and the New England States (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) are observing their Flood Safety Awareness Week during this week (11-17 March).
- Tsunami Preparedness -- Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are observing Tsnumani Preparedness Week between 11 and 17 March 2018.
- Cherry Blossom Watch
in Washington, DC -- Many tourists descend upon Washington, DC during the
spring to view the sights, including the blossoming cherry trees that
line the Tidal Basin along the Potomac River. This year marks the
90th anniversary of the first Cherry Blossom Festival.
The National Park Service
operates a website that reports the status of the cherry blossoms in anticipation of the timing of peak bloom. According to their most recent forecast, experts expect that the trees should be
at peak bloom between 17-20 March 2018. The 2018 National Cherry Blossom Festival will start on Tuesday, 20 March, and run through Sunday, 15 April 2018. The current dates of anticipated bloom are earlier than the average peak bloom date of 2 April. This website also has
a listing of the phenological observations for past bloom dates over the past 26 years.
A four-minute video "Climate Change and Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC" is available on the National Park Service website and describes how the earlier blossoming of cherry trees indicate a changing climate.
A graph of the occurrence of the dates of peak cherry blossom occurrence in Washington, DC beginning in 1921 and running through last year is also available. Examination of this graph indicates that the anticipated peak bloom could rival the record earliest occurrence on 15 March 1990.
- Update on Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race -- After the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage one week ago Saturday, the official start of the race was in Willow last Sunday. As of early Sunday some of the mushers had left the Kaltag checkpoint, headed for Unalakleet. The winner of the Iditarod race is expected to reach Nome early this week.[Fairbanks Daily News-Miner]
A website is maintained for teachers and students interested in following the progress of the Iditarod and a 5th-grade teacher from Virginia, who is the "2018 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail™." Current weather conditions and weather forecasts for this year's checkpoint stations are available.
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the tropics --- Organized tropical cyclone activity was confined to the South Indian Ocean basin during the last week as the end of astronomical spring in the Southern Hemisphere approaches. Three tropical cyclones were reported across the basin during last week.
Cyclone Enawo, the ninth named tropical cyclone of the 2016-17 season in the South Indian Ocean, traveled toward the west-southwest at the start of last week, making landfall along the eastern coast of Madagascar on Tuesday. Enawo, which had intensified to become major category 4 tropical cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Scale before landfall, as maximum sustained surface winds reached at least 140 mph. After making landfall, Enawo turned toward the south and weakened, bringing heavy rains and strong winds to Madagascar.
Over the next day Enawo traveled southward over the island before emerging off its southeast coast on Thursday as a tropical storm. As of last Friday, the remnants of Enawo were located approximately 530 miles to the northwest of St. Denis, Reunion. The NASA Hurricane Page has additional information and a satellite image on Cyclone Enawo.
At the start of last week the short-lived Tropical Storm Blanche traveled across the waters of the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf in the eastern section of the South Indian Ocean basin and made landfall along the Kimberly coast of Western Australia approximately 200 miles to the west-southwest of Darwin, Northern Territory of Australia. Additional information and satellite imagery for Tropical Storm Blanche are available on the NASA Hurricane Page.
The third tropical cyclone of last week developed last Wednesday approximately 580 miles to the south-southwest of Diego Garcia in the western sections of the South Indian Ocean basin. This short-lived system was identified as Tropical Storm 11S as it was the eleventh tropical cyclone of the 2016-17 season in that basin. Tropical Storm 11S traveled an erratic path, initially traveling toward the west-northwest, then to the east and finally toward the south before being torn apart by wind shear late Friday after slightly more than 48 hours after formation. At that time, this tropical storm was located approximately 800 miles to the east-northeast of Mauritius. Check the
NASA Hurricane Page for satellite images and additional information on Tropical Storm 11S.
- Updated El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion is released -- Late last week forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) released their monthly El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion. They reported that the La Niña was weakening during February, although sea surface temperatures (SST) across the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean remained below average. Furthermore, atmospheric conditions typical of La Niña were also weakening. Most of the prediction models used by the forecasters indicate that La Niña should continue weakening and transition into ENSO-neutral conditions (with neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions) during this meteorological spring season in the Northern Hemisphere (March, April and May). The forecasters have continued their La Niña advisory, noting an approximately 55 percent chance that a transition from La Niña to ENSO-neutral conditions would occur during this Northern Hemisphere meteorological spring, then continuing into the second half of 2018. [NOAA Climate Prediction Center]
An ENSO blog was written by a contractor with NOAA's CPC describing how the La Niña conditions that prevailed at the end of 2017 and during the first month of 2018 appear to show a transition into ENSO-neutral conditions across the equatorial Pacific. She provides several informative graphics to supplement her discussion. [NOAA Climate.gov News]
Forecasters with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology reported that La Niña conditions were waning as warming was occurring in the central equatorial Pacific. They suggest that the current phase of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) could hasten the demise of La Niña and a transition to ENSO-neutral conditions. [Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology]
- Following the advance of spring with phenological maps -- The USA-National Phenology Network (NPN)is producing a variety of maps of the 48 contiguous United States that show the advance of spring northward across the nation. Two “Status of Spring” maps, called the “Spring Leaf Index Anomaly” and the “Spring Bloom Index Anomaly” are generated on a weekly basis based upon the USA-NPN’s model called the Spring Leaf and Bloom Indices. The timing of leaf-out, migration, flowering and other seasonal phenomena in many species are phenological events that are closely tied to local weather conditions and broad climatic patterns. These maps are anomaly charts showing how the calculated indices for each week compare with the corresponding 30-year averages (for 1981-2010) and provide a means of comparison of this spring with “normal” conditions. [USA-National Phenology Network Spring]
USA-NPN is also generating some pilot Pheno Forecast maps that are based on their 6-day Accumulated Growing Degree Day (AGDD) forecasts. These Pest-detection, management, and treatment Maps are available for five pests: apple maggot, emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid, lilac borer and winter moth. The treatment window for these pests are displayed as it approaches, based on predicted life stage. [USA-NPN Pheno Forecasts]
- Sediment plume from Mississippi River seen to be entering Gulf of Mexico -- An image generated from data collected early last week by the MODIS sensor on NASA’s Terra satellite shows a plume of sediment entering the waters of the Gulf of Mexico from the lower Mississippi River. This sediment plume was the result of flooding along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers along with their many tributaries that was caused by snow melt and torrential rains across these watersheds. The structure of the plume off the Mississippi Delta shows some interesting features due to winds and water currents. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Extent of Arctic sea ice during this February is smallest since 1979 -- A map of the sea ice concentration in the Arctic basin during this past February shows that the extent of sea ice was the smallest since satellite surveillance commenced in 1979. A “winter warming event” appears to be responsible for the decline in ice over the Bering and Chukchi Seas. A map displaying the February air temperature anomaly (arithmetic differences between observed and long-term average monthly temperatures) shows positive anomalies associated with above average temperatures across a large section of the Arctic basin. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Satellite-based solar telescope provides new view of the Sun -- The Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) that is onboard NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite has been providing images of the Sun’s atmosphere in the extreme ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum since the satellite was launched into a geosynchronous orbit in November 2016. NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) are releasing images of the Sun made from the SUVI to the scientific community. The recently launched GOES-S satellite is also carrying a SUVI sensor. [NOAA NCEI News]
- Recent nor'easter also batters Outer Banks of North Carolina -- The powerful winter storm that became a destructive "nor'easter" along the Middle Atlantic and New England coasts over the previous weekend was felt as far south as North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Large waves generated by the strong winds surrounding this storm caused significant beach erosion and ocean overwash along the Outer Banks to the north of Cape Hatteras. Portions of State Highway 12 were impassable. [The Outer Banks Voice]
The high winds and heavy seas caused at least 70 cargo containers to fall from the cargo ship Maersk Shanghai approximately 17 miles off Oregon Inlet. [The Outer Banks Voice] (Editor's Note: Special thanks are extended to Terri Kirby Hathaway, Certified Environmental Educator and Marine Education Specialist with the North Carolina Sea Grant for these articles. EJH)
- An update on gas hydrates is made from a modern perspective -- The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently published two new fact sheets on methane hydrates and related USGS research activities. Methane hydrates are crystalline solids that look like ice and are formed from water and gas, often containing large quantities of the greenhouse gas methane. These gas hydrates are found hidden in sediments on every continent including in Arctic permafrost and in marine sediments directly below the sea floor. One of the USGS fact sheets contains up-to-date information about naturally occurring gas hydrates, including their global distribution, the amount of gas trapped in these deposits, and the technology used to find them. The other fact sheet describes the USGS Gas Hydrates Project, a collaborative effort with other U.S. federal agencies, international partners, and academic researchers to enhance understanding of the resource potential of gas hydrates and the interaction of gas hydrates with the changing environment. [USGS News]
- Carbon can be unleashed from far northern permafrost within decades -- Scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Alaska Fairbanks recently determined that permafrost in the coldest northern Arctic will thaw sufficiently to become a permanent source of carbon to the atmosphere during the 21st century, with the peak transition occurring in 40 to 60 years. On the other hand, warmer, more southerly permafrost regions are not expected to become a significant carbon source until the end of the 22nd century, warmer, more southerly permafrost regions will not become a carbon source until the end of the 22nd century, even though they are presently thawing. The researchers based their conclusions on data on soil temperatures in Alaska and Siberia and output from a numerical model from NCAR that calculates changes in carbon emissions as plants grow and permafrost thaws in response to climate change. [NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Feature]
- Tree mortality would increase on a warming planet -- An international team of scientists recently reported that several factors are contributing to an increase in the mortality rate of trees in the moist tropics, with trees in some regions dying at double the rates 35 years ago. The researchers studied the tree health in tropical areas of South America, Africa and Southeast Asia, as well as analyzing several factors affecting these trees such as rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels, droughts, fires, more potent storms and insect infestation. Apparently, increased air temperatures reduces the ability of trees to absorb carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and intensify their loss of water. [Pacific Northwest National Laboratory News]
- A "wet lab" experiment is used to model prehistoric ocean conditions -- A laboratory experiment was conducted by an international team of scientists involving a modified graduated cylinder that was used to model Earth's prehistoric ocean with conditions like that of the Archean Era, approximately 2.5 billion years ago. Cyanobacteria were included since these organisms are assumed to have helped fix oxygen into the early atmosphere. The researchers were evaluating the reduction of iron in prehistoric oceans in conditions under which iron-rich sedimentary rock was formed. They found that despite the oxygenation by the cyanobacteria, much of the iron did not remain oxidized but was reduced again into its dissolved form, yielding a larger amount than anticipated. [Iowa State University 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]
Return to RealTime Weather Portal
Prepared by Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., email firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright, 2018, The American Meteorological Society.