WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
28 November-2 December 2016
Items of Interest:
- Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2016 Campaign is underway -- The twelfth in the series of GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaigns for 2016 will continue through Wednesday, 30 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 (Perseus 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 2016 campaign is scheduled for 20-30 December 2016. [GLOBE at Night]
- Beginning of meteorological winter season -- The winter meteorological season
in the Northern Hemisphere starts on Thursday (1 December). Recall that
climatologists and meteorologists have elected to use a standard three-month grouping to
identify each meteorological season. Hence,
the months of December, January and February are considered the winter meteorological season. You
will note that the winter solstice, marking the day where the length of
daylight is least in the Northern Hemisphere is still three weeks away,
falling on Wednesday, 21 December 2016. Since the lowest temperatures
typically fall in mid to late January, the meteorological winter tends
to be centered on the coldest time of the year in the Northern
In addition, Wednesday (30 November) marked the end of the official 2016
hurricane seasons in the North Atlantic, which includes the Gulf of
Mexico and the Caribbean, along with the eastern and central North
- Winter Awareness -- Kansas will observe Winter Weather Awareness Day on Thursday, 1 December 2016. Residents of the Jayhawk State should review the winter weather safety rules issued by their local National Weather Service Offices.
- High-quality maps of December temperature and precipitation normals across US available -- The PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University's website has prepared high-resolution maps depicting the normal maximum, minimum and precipitation totals for December and other months across the 48 coterminous United States for the current 1981-2010 climate normals interval. These maps, with a 800-meter resolution, were produced using the PRISM (Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model) climate mapping system.
- December weather calendar for a city near you -- The Midwestern Regional Climate Center maintains an interactive website that permits the public to produce a ready to print weather calendar for any given month of the year, such as December, at any of approximately 270 weather stations around the nation. (These stations are NOAA's ThreadEx stations.) The entries for each day of the month includes: Normal maximum temperature, normal minimum temperature, normal daily heating and cooling degree days, normal daily precipitation, record maximum temperature, record minimum temperature, and record daily precipitation; the current normals for 1981-2010.
- It's Sure Dark! -- Have you noticed
that the sun is setting early these days? During the first ten days of
December, many locations throughout the country will experience their
earliest sunset times of the year. The exact day for the earliest
sunset depends upon the latitude, so you may want to check the date in
your locale from the sunrise tables appearing in an on-line,
interactive service available for the entire
year at most cities in the United States. The reason for the
earliest sunsets occurring in early December rather than on the winter
solstice (during the early morning hours of Wednesday, 21 December 2016) is
that the sun is not as precise a timekeeper as our watches. Because of
a combination of factors involved with Earth's elliptical orbit about
the sun and the tilt of Earth's spin axis with respect to the plane of
the ecliptic, the sun appears to "run fast" by as much as 15 minutes as
compared with clock time in November. However, with the approach of the
winter solstice and perihelion (the smallest earth-sun distance during
the morning of 4 January 2017), the apparent sun slows during
December and finally lags the clock by 12 minutes in February.
Consequently, a noticeable and welcome trend toward later sunsets can
be detected by the end of December, especially by those residents in
the northern part of the country. However, the latest sunrises occur at
most locales in early January, meaning that early risers will continue
seeing dark and dreary mornings for another month.
- "Coldest day of the year" is on the horizon -- NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) produced a set of "Coldest Day of the Year" maps for the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico showing the dates of the lowest daily minimum temperatures of the year as calculated from the 1981-2010 climate normals. Many places across the West will experience their lowest daily temperatures starting during the next two to three weeks in early December. On the other hand, some areas across the West will not reach their lowest daily temperatures of the year until late January. [NOAA NCEI News]
[Notes: (1.) According to the seasonal variations in the long-term average or "normal" temperatures, many locations across the nation not along the coasts typically have their lowest normal daily high and low temperatures during the third week of January, nearly one month after the winter solstice. However, areas across the West have their lowest temperatures during the month of December, with elevation becoming an influence.
(2.) For comparison purposes, check the corresponding NCEI map for the "Warmest Day of the Year" that shows the dates of occurrence of the highest maximum temperatures. EJH]
- SKYWARN™ recognition -- Next Saturday
3 December 2016 (starting at 00Z or 7:00 EST PM on Friday night) has been
Recognition Day, a day in which the National Weather Service
and the American Radio Relay League celebrate the contributions made by
volunteer SKYWARN™ radio operators during the past year's Severe
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the Tropics -- During the last week, a tropical cyclone developed over the southwestern Caribbean Sea in the North Atlantic basin and then after passing over Central America entered the eastern North Pacific basin near the end of week. A tropical depression formed during the predawn hours of last Monday morning over the waters of the southwestern Caribbean (a portion of the North Atlantic basin) approximately 300 miles to the east of Bluefields, Nicaragua. By early Monday afternoon, this nearly stationary tropical depression had intensified to become Tropical Storm Otto, the fifteenth named Atlantic tropical cyclone of 2016. Slightly more than 24 hours later (mid Tuesday afternoon, 22 November), Otto became the basin's seventh hurricane of the year as maximum sustained surface winds reached 75 mph as it remained roughly 300 miles off the Nicaraguan coast. By last Thursday morning Otto had intensified to become a category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale before making landfall on the southern Nicaraguan coast near the town of San Juan de Nicaragua during the early afternoon. After landfall Otto weakened to a tropical storm as of mid Thursday evening. Moving westward across Nicaragua and Costa Rica, Otto produced torrential rainfall that resulted in flooding across these two countries with a loss of at least nine lives. [CNN] Early Friday morning emerged as a tropical storm from Costa Rica and out over the waters of the eastern North Pacific. According to Dr. Phil Klotzbach, Otto was the fifth named tropical cyclone on record to have crossed from the Atlantic to the eastern North Pacific. [The Weather Channel] On Saturday morning Otto was downgraded to a tropical depression as it was located nearly 700 miles to the west-southwest of Liberia, Costa Rica. The
NASA Hurricane Page has additional information and satellite images on Hurricane Otto.
In the western North Pacific basin, a tropical depression formed late last week over the Leyte Gulf just to the east of the Philippine Islands. Traveling toward the west-northwest west across the central Philippine Islands, this tropical depression intensified to become Tropical Storm Tokage. Over the past weekend Tokage curved toward the northwest and then to the north-northeast as moved out across the South China Sea. As of early Monday (local time), Tropical Storm Tokage was located approximately 230 miles to the northwest of Manila. Philippines. Forecasts indicate that Tokage would travel westward across the South China Sea before dissipating on Tuesday near the Paracel Islands.
- Australian tropical cyclone season outlook issued -- Forecasters at the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology recently released an outlook for the upcoming 2016-17 Australian tropical cyclone season that typically begins in November and runs through April. These forecasters foresee an above-average tropical cyclone activity in the five regions that surround that continent, with the best chances for the above-average numbers of tropical cyclones being in the Australian region in the south central section of the country (with a 67- percent chance) and the Northwestern sub-region (63-percent chance). Their outlook for a more active season is based upon a transition from ENSO-neutral to weak La Niña conditions across the tropical Pacific Ocean, together with warmer than average ocean waters located to the north and east of Australia. Typically, the waters around Australia experience more tropical cyclones during La Niña events.
[Australian Bureau of Meteorology]
- Efforts made to improve communication of flood risk to the public -- As part of its effort to build a "Weather-Ready-Nation", NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) has funded a study along with NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research that investigated how residents in two eastern Pennsylvania communities perceive and respond to risk communication in flood forecast products issued by NWS. This study revealed several tools and thought processes that the people would use to make decisions about their safety, in response to floods. The study also made several suggestions as to how NWS could adapt its flood products and messages to motivate people to take action. [NOAA Weather-Ready-Nation News]
- Satellite data used to analyze recent excessive rainfall event in Hispaniola -- Scientists have been analyzing data collected by sensors onboard NASA's The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite to determine the heavy rainfall rates that were reported across the northern Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola during the week of 14 November. A slow moving frontal boundary and a tropical wave interacted and created widespread heavy rainfall over northern sections of Hispaniola. According to NASA's Integrated Multi-satellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG), more than 9 inches of rain fell over northeastern Dominican Republic during the span between 8 and 15 November. [NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Feature]
- Review of October 2016 global temperatures and sea ice cover -- Preliminary data analyzed by scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) indicated that the global combined land and ocean average surface temperature for the October 2016 was 1.31 Fahrenheit degrees above the 20th century average (1901-2000) for the month. Therefore, last month's global combined temperature tied the temperature for October 2003 for being the third highest October temperature since global temperature records began in 1880. When considered separately, the monthly average temperature over the global oceans for October 2016 was 1.30 Fahrenheit degrees above average, the second highest October ocean temperature in 137 years of record. The monthly average temperature of the land surface for this recently concluded month was 1.37 Fahrenheit degrees above average, which represented the 16th highest October land surface temperature on record. The global combined temperature for October 2016 was 0.47 Fahrenheit degrees lower than the record high global temperature for the previous year (October 2015) when a major El Niño event was peaking, with large-scale warming of the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean.
Although October temperatures had dropped slightly, when considering the combined land-ocean global temperature for the year to date (January-October 2016), this temperature was the highest global temperature for the first ten months of any year since 1880, exceeding the previous record high temperature for the corresponding ten-month interval set only one year ago by 0.18 Fahrenheit degrees. [NOAA/NCEI State of the Climate]
A global map of Selected Significant Climate Anomalies and Events for October 2016 is available from NCEI.
According to satellite data collected by National Snow and Ice Data Center, the sea ice over the Arctic Ocean during October 2016 was the smallest areal extent for any October since satellite-derived ice records began in 1979. The sea ice around Antarctica was the second smallest October ice extent in the last 38 years. Globally, the sea ice extents in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere was the smallest October global sea ice extent on record. [NOAA/NCEI Global Snow & Ice]
- New insights into global warming trends are provided -- A research paper was recently published by a team of scientists from the University of Delaware, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and several other institutions addressed the phenomenon that has been referred to as the "global warming hiatus" in which a temporary slowdown in the global average surface temperature warming trend was observed between 1998 and 2013. The researchers discussed a new understanding of this phenomenon, concluding the phenomenon represented a redistribution of energy within the Earth system, with Earth's ocean absorbing the extra heat. They also noted that "the rate of global surface warming can fluctuate due to natural variations in the climate system over periods of a decade or so." Furthermore, they called for continued support of current and future technologies for ocean monitoring to reduce observation errors in sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. [NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Feature]
- United Nations climate change conference adjourns with promise of continued action -- The twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22), the twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12), and the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1) were held recently in Bab Ighli, Marrakech, Morocco from 7-18 November 2016. The Conference appears to be successful in that a constructive spirit of multilateral cooperation on climate change continues with participating countries presenting a united front with a pledge to forge ahead in the fight against climate change. They also issued a call to President-elect Donald Trump to join them. While climate finance remained an unresolved issue, nearly 200 countries have agreed to develop an emissions reduction rule book by 2018 and 47 of world’s poorest countries pledged to meet all their domestic energy needs from renewables as rapidly as possible. Big emitters such as Britain and Australia ratified the Paris Agreement during COP22, bringing the total to 111 countries with 77 percent of world’s emissions now officially backing the deal. [United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change COP22]
- Decoding signals of climate change where trees meet tundra -- Scientists from Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and other institutions are engaged in a long-term project in north central Alaska near the Brooks Range that is designed to determine what allows trees to survive in the borderline environment between the boreal forest and open tundra. Since temperature is known as a driving environmental factor in ecosystems, changes in temperature in the arctic are suspected to affect the position of the tree-line or boundary between forest and tundra. Other factors include availability of light, precipitation and snow cover. Since the climate is warming in the arctic and subarctic at rates that are at least two to three times faster than the global average, a rapid northward migration of the tree-line is suspected to occur in the next few decades. The research project in the Brooks Range is part of the larger Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), a multi-year project that involves combining satellite imagery with fine-scale ground observations in the vicinity of the tree-line to create a visualization of how the region may change in the future. [Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory News]
- Human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels is detected by satellite -- A team of scientists have used data collected from 2014 to 2016 by the sensors onboard NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) to determine the global concentrations of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere and identify a human signal amid the seasonal fluctuations of this greenhouse gas. OCO-2 was launched in July 2014. Satellite-based maps of human emissions of carbon dioxide have been produced by a group of scientists from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. These maps depict widespread carbon dioxide around major urban areas, with the highest values of carbon dioxide emissions observed over eastern China, with other hot spots in the eastern United States, Central Europe, the Middle East, and Japan. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- 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.