Weekly Ocean News
WEEK ONE: 5-9 September 2011
Item of Interest --
Approaching the peak in the Atlantic hurricane season -- The historic or statistical annual peak in the Atlantic hurricane season will occur this coming weekend (10-12 September), as determined as the date during the entire season with most frequent number of named tropical cyclones (tropical storms and hurricanes), based upon over 100 years of record. This date corresponds closely with the time of peak sea-surface temperatures across those sections of the North Atlantic considered hurricane-breeding areas. [NWS National Hurricane Center] [Note: So far this Atlantic hurricane season, which commenced on 1 June 2011, twelve tropical cyclones have reached tropical storm or hurricane status. Of these twelve named tropical cyclones, only two (Irene and Katia) have become hurricanes. EJH]
Ocean in the News:
Eye on the tropics --- The weather across the tropical ocean basins in the North Atlantic and the North Pacific remained active during the last week.
Earthquake in Aleutians does not generate tsunami -- A magnitude 6.8 earthquake was detected during the early hours of last Friday morning southwest of Amukta Island in the Alaska's Aleutian Island chain. Upon analysis of the data, NOAA's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a tsunami warning for the islands or other coastal locations in Alaska or western North America. [Alaska Native News]
Sea floor surveys designed to keep shipping safe off Long Island -- The 208-foot hydrographic survey vessel, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, is currently conducting a three-month survey of the ocean floor off the coasts of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island in an effort to update nautical charts for Block Island Sound. The survey project, which is managed by NOAA's Office of Coast Survey, is designed to keep large ships and commerce moving safely. [NOAA News]
Historic effort is undertaken to protect North Atlantic humpback whales -- Last week, officials from NOAA and France's Protected Areas Agency signed a "sister sanctuary" agreement designed to support the protection of endangered humpback whales that migrate annually more than 3000 miles between NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the Massachusetts coast and Agoa Marine Mammal Sanctuary in the Caribbean's French Antilles. [NOAA News]
Robotic floats used to help monitor ocean acidity -- A team of researchers from the University of Washington and their Canadian colleagues have been employing a method that they developed for determining the relationships between sea water temperature, oxygen, total carbon dioxide and acidity (pH) on temperature and oxygen data collected by the fleet of ARGO submersible floats to monitor the chemistry of the world's ocean. Approximately 3000 active floats are distributed throughout the global ocean at any time. [NOAA News]
New earth-observing research satellite is being readied for launch -- During the last week, the spacecraft that represents NASA's next earth-observing research satellite arrived at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base so that preparations can begin for a launch in October. Known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP), this spacecraft represents the first of a new generation of polar-orbiting satellites that are designed to monitor changes in the atmosphere, oceans, vegetation, ice and solid Earth. [NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center]
Warmer streams could signal end for salmon -- Scientists at the University of California-Davis, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Sweden's Stockholm Environment Institute warn that increasing temperatures in some of California's streams could signal the end of spring-run Chinook salmon in the state by the end of the century. [UC Davis News]
Methods used by bacteria to capture carbon in the ocean "twilight zone" are studied -- A team of scientists including those from the US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute have been studying how carbon is fixed in those sections of the oceans at depths ranging between 200 and 1000 meters below the surface called the "twilight zone." Although light is insufficient for most microorganisms, some resident microbes capture carbon dioxide that are used to form cellular structures and conduct necessary metabolic reactions. [Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute]
Changes in ice sheets and climate seen during late Pleistocene -- Researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Oregon State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and China's Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology have found that massive iceberg discharges into the North Atlantic Ocean during the last Ice Age were caused by changes in climate rather than ice sheet instability as previously thought. [UCAR/NCAR Staff Notes]
Dust in the Southern Hemisphere has major effect on climate during last million years -- Researchers from Spain's Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology who analyzed dust and iron fluxes deposited in the Antarctic Ocean during the past 4 million years have found a close relation between the maximum contributions of dust to this ocean and climate changes occurring in the most intense glaciation periods of the Pleistocene period approximately 1.25 million years ago. Their data confirms the role of iron in the increase in phytoplankton levels during glacial periods, intensifying the function of this ocean as a sink for carbon dioxide. [Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Latest News]
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, drought, floods, marine weather, tsunamis, rip currents, Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and coral bleaching. [NOAAWatch]
Global and US Hazards/Climate Extremes -- A review and analysis of the global impacts of various weather-related events, to include drought, floods and storms during the current month. [NCDC]
Earthweek -- Diary of the Planet [earthweek.com] Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.
- In the North Atlantic basin, after making landfall in the New York City metropolitan area, Tropical Storm Irene and its remnants moved northward across sections of New England at the start of last week, producing excessive rain over the Connecticut River Valley that created major flooding in Vermont. US Geological Survey stream gauges indicated historic river levels in ten states and Puerto Rico. [USGS Newsroom] Many residents in the Middle Atlantic and New England states remained without power as of late last week due to the strong winds and heavy flooding rains that accompanied Irene. [USA Today] This tropical storm had previously been a major category 3 hurricane during the previous week as it passed across the northern Bahamas. Additional information concerning former Hurricane Irene, including satellite images and tabulation of observed rainfall totals are available on the NASA Hurricane Page. The European Space Agency (ESA) provided two interesting images from its Envisat satellite taken simultaneously of Hurricane Irene on Saturday, 27 August, soon after the hurricane had made its initial landfall along the North Carolina coast. One of the images was generated from the satellite's radar showing the rough ocean surface through the clouds, while the other image showed the typical spiral cloud pattern associated with a hurricane that was from the satellite's MERIS (MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer) instrument. [ESA]
At the start of last week, Tropical Storm Jose, the eleventh named tropical cyclone of the 2011 hurricane season, formed over the waters of the western North Atlantic. This tropical storm moved northward, but weakened to a tropical depression slightly more than one day after forming. Satellite images and additional information on Tropical Storm Jose appear on the NASA Hurricane Page.
Early in the week, Tropical Storm Katia formed over the waters of the tropical Atlantic south of the Cape Verde Islands. Traveling to the west-northwest during the next few days, this tropical storm intensified into the second Atlantic hurricane of 2011. However, with maximum sustained wind speeds hovering between 70 and 75 mph, this minimal hurricane weakened slightly to become a tropical storm for less than a day before re-intensifying to become a hurricane late in the week. As of this past weekend, Katia continued to travel toward the west-northwest, passing to the north of the northern Leeward Islands. The NASA Hurricane Page has satellite imagery and additional information on Hurricane Katia. A photograph of Katia, which was a tropical storm at the time, was made by astronauts on the International Space Station last Wednesday. [NASA Multimedia]
Late last week, Tropical Depression 13 formed over the Gulf of Mexico and became Tropical Storm Lee. This system drifted slowly north toward the central Gulf coast last Friday and Saturday. Bands of heavy rain, along with onshore tropical storm strength winds pummeled sections of the coast throughout the weekend. Some locations had received nearly one foot of rain. By early Sunday morning, the center of Tropical Storm Lee had made landfall along the south central Louisiana coast near Lafayette, LA. [USA Today] Locally heavy rain should continue across sections of the Mid-South and Southeast through early this week as remnants of Lee follow along a projected path toward the northeast. Satellite images of Tropical Storm Lee are available on the NASA Hurricane Page.
- In the eastern North Pacific basin, Tropical Depression 8E formed over the coastal waters off southwestern Mexico at midweek. However, this depression was short-lived, when it made landfall along the coast and quickly dissipated. For more information on Tropical Depression 8E, please consult the NASA Hurricane Page.
- In the western North Pacific basin, Tropical Storm Talas continued to travel northward early in the week before curving toward the north-northwest. By late in the week, this tropical storm passed across the Japanese islands of Shikoku and Honshu on Saturday. As many as 20 people were killed as this system traveled across the island by Sunday. [USA Today] Talas was expected to lose its tropical characteristics and become an extratropical low pressure system as it travels north across the Sea of Japan on Monday (local time). The NASA Hurricane Page has additional information and satellite imagery on Tropical Storm Talas.
Over this past weekend, a new tropical depression that had formed northeast of the Northern Mariana Islands became Tropical Storm Noru. This system quickly traveled to the north-northeast and remained a tropical storm late Sunday (local time).
Concept of the Week: Touring the AMS Ocean Studies website
NOTE: This Concept for the Week is a repeat of that which appeared in last week's Weekly Ocean News.
Welcome to AMS Ocean Studies! You are embarking on a study of the world ocean and the role of the ocean in the Earth system. This unique teacher enhancement course focuses on the flow and transformations of energy and water into and out of the ocean, the internal properties and circulation of the ocean, interactions between the ocean and the other components of the Earth system, and the human/societal impacts on and responses to those interactions. Throughout this learning experience, you will be using the AMS Ocean Studies website to access and interpret a variety of environmental information, including recent observational data. The objective of this initial Concept of the Week is to explore features of the AMS Ocean Studies website.
On Monday of each week of the course, we will post the current Weekly Ocean News that includes Ocean in the News (a summary listing of recent events related to the ocean), Concept of the Week (an in-depth analysis of some topic related to the ocean in the Earth system), and Historical Events (a list of past events such as tsunamis or specific advances in the understanding of oceanography). When appropriate, a feature called Supplemental Information-In Greater Depth will be provided on some topic related to the principal theme of the week.
You will use the AMS Ocean Studies website to access and download the weekly "Current Ocean Studies" (plus supporting images) that complement Investigations found in your Ocean Studies Investigations Manual. These materials should be available Monday morning. Click the appropriate links to download and print these electronic Current Ocean Studies and answer forms as well as your Investigations Response forms.
The body of the AMS Ocean Studies website provides links to the Earth System, information on Physical & Chemical, Geological, and Biological aspects of the ocean, Atmosphere/Ocean Interaction, the Great Lakes, and extras-a glossary of terms, maps, educational links, and AMS Ocean Studies information. Following each section is a link to other sites that examine the various subsystems of the Earth system. Let's take a quick tour to become more familiar with the AMS Ocean Studies website.
Under Physical & Chemical, click on Sea Surface Temperatures. This image uses a color scale to depict the global pattern of sea surface temperatures (SSTs) (in degrees Celsius) averaged over a recent 7-day period and based on measurements by infrared sensors onboard Earth-orbiting satellites. (Depending on your browser, you may have to place your mouse cursor on the slide bar to the right and scroll down to view the entire image.) Compare SSTs in the Northern Hemisphere with those in the Southern Hemisphere. Return to the AMS Ocean Studies website.
Under Geological, click on Current Earthquake Activity. The USGS Current World Seismicity page provides a global map of the locations of seismic (earthquake) events color-coded for the past seven days. The size of the squares represents the magnitude of recent earthquakes. Note how earthquakes are concentrated along the margin of the Pacific Ocean. Details of recent earthquakes can be found by clicking on their map squares. Return to the AMS Ocean Studies website.
The ocean is home to a wide variety of habitats and organisms. Under Biological, click on Ocean "Color" (Productivity). This is a satellite-derived (SeaWiFS) color-coded map of biological productivity in the surface waters of the world ocean is averaged from October 1978 to date. Orange and red indicates the highest productivity, while dark blue and violet indicate the lowest productivity. Note the vast areas of relatively low productivity over the central regions of the subtropical ocean basins. Individual months within this period may be chosen for viewing. Now return to the AMS Ocean Studies website.
Under Atmosphere/Ocean Interaction, click on TRMM Tropical Rainfall. The TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission) page includes color-coded maps of the Monthly Mean Rainrate (in mm per day) across the tropics for the last 30 days ending on the present date. Changes in rainfall are linked to large-scale shifts in the atmosphere/ocean circulation in the tropics. Now return to the AMS Ocean Studies website.
Take a few minutes when you have time to browse the other data and information sources available via the AMS Ocean Studies website. You should "bookmark" ("favorites") this page on your computer. Return frequently to learn more about the many resources on the ocean in the Earth system. Bon voyage!
5 September 1987...A tropical storm, which formed off the South Atlantic coast, was responsible for torrential rains over coastal regions of South Carolina. Between 30 August and 8 September, Charleston, SC received 18.44 in. of rain. The heavy rains caused extensive flooding around the city of Charleston, seriously damaged cotton crops in the eastern part of the state, and resulted in an unusually high number of mosquitoes. (Storm Data)
5 September 1946...The U.S. Air-Rescue Agency, an inter-departmental group headed by the Commandant of the Coast Guard and engaged on the study of improved and standardized rescue and search methods, was renamed the Search and Rescue Agency. "Search and Rescue Units" of the Coast Guard were at the same time integrated into the peace time organization and the whole developed into a system of constantly alerted communications, coastal lookout, and patrols of institute instant and systematic search and rescue procedure in case of disasters." (USCG Historian's Office)
5 September 1950...Hurricane Easy produced the greatest 24-hour rainfall in U.S. weather records up to that time. The hurricane deluged Yankeetown, on the upper west coast of Florida, with 38.70 in. of rain. This record has since been replaced by 43 in. of rain at Alvin, TX on 25-26 July 1979. (David Ludlum)
6 September 1522...The Magellan expedition completed its historical circumnavigation of the globe as one of Ferdinand Magellan's five ships, the Vittoria, arrived at Sanlýcar de Barrameda in Spain with 17 other crewmembers and four Indians. Magellan, who lost his life in April 1521 in the Philippines, set sail from Spain with 270 seamen on 20 September 1519 in an effort to find a western sea route to the rich Spice Islands of Indonesia. (The History Channel)
7 September 1934...US Coast Guard (USCG) vessels responded to a fire aboard the liner Morro Castle six miles off the New Jersey coast. This disaster, which resulted in the loss of 133 of the 455 passengers and crew, led to a Senate investigation and subsequent changes in maritime safety regulations. (USCG Historian's Office)
8 September 1900...The greatest weather disaster in U.S. records occurred when a hurricane struck Galveston, TX. Waves fifteen feet high washed over the island demolishing or carrying away buildings, and drowning more than 6000 persons. The hurricane destroyed more than 3600 houses, and total damage was more than $30 million. Winds to 120 mph, and a twenty-foot storm surge accompanied the hurricane. Following the storm, the surf was three hundred feet inland from the former water line. The hurricane claimed another 1200 lives outside of the Galveston area. (8th-9th) (David Ludlum) (The Weather Channel)
Editor's note: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) posted a webpage commemorating the Galveston, TX hurricane of 1900. This page contains links to historic photos and excerpts of an eyewitness description of storm by Isaac Cline, the chief forecaster of the Galveston U.S. Weather Bureau Office.
9 September 1945 - A "computer bug" is first identified and named by LT Grace Murray Hopper while she was on Navy active duty in 1945. It was found in the Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator at Harvard University. The operators affixed the moth to the computer log, where it still resides, with the entry: "First actual case of bug being found." They "debugged" the computer, first introducing the term. (Naval History Center)
10 September 1919...A hurricane struck the Florida Keys drowning more than 500 persons. (David Ludlum)
10 September 1965...Hurricane Betsy slammed Louisiana with wind gusting to 130 mph at Houma, resulting in 58 deaths and over 17,500 injured. The storm surge and flooding from torrential rains made Betsy the first billion-dollar hurricane with losses exceeding $1.4 billion.
11 September 1961...Very large and slow moving Hurricane Carla made landfall near Port Lavaca, TX. Carla battered the central Texas coast with wind gusts to 175 mph, and up to 16 inches of rain, and spawned a vicious tornado (F4 on the Fujita tornado intensity scale) which swept across Galveston Island killing eight persons and destroying 200 buildings. A storm surge of up to 18.5 feet inundated coastal areas and Bay City was deluged with 17.1 inches of rain. The hurricane claimed 45 lives, and caused $300 million in damage. The remnants of Carla produced heavy rain in the Lower Missouri Valley and southern sections of the Upper Great Lakes Region. (David Ludlum) (Storm Data) (Intellicast)
11 September 1992...Hurricane Iniki, the third most damaging hurricane in US history, hit the Hawaiian Islands of Kauai and Oahu. Six people died as a result of the hurricane.
Return to AMS Ocean Studies website
Prepared by AMS Ocean Central Staff and Edward J. Hopkins, Ph.D., email firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright, 2011, The American Meteorological Society.