WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
7-11 January 2019
Items of Interest:
- Federal Shutdown continues-- As of the start of this past weekend, parts of the U.S. Government remained closed during the first week of January because of the Federal Shutdown that started on Friday, 21 December 2018. Therefore, many of the NOAA and NASA websites and social media channels have either been closed or are not being updated due to a lapse in appropriation. Only those NOAA websites, such as those maintained by the National Weather Service will be maintained as they are deemed to be necessary to protect lives and property. As of this past weekend, when the shutdown will be resolved remains unclear.
- National STEM Report recognizes AMS Education Program -- The White House recently released a 48-page report entitled Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education that establishes five-year Federal priorities and presents a vision "where all Americans will have lifelong access to high-quality STEM education and the United States will be the global leader in STEM literacy, innovation, and employment." (STEM education programs refer to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.)
Page 18 of the report highlights weather prediction understandings and analysis skills gained through the American Meteorological Society’s DataStreme Teacher Professional Development program, conducted in partnership with NOAA and California University of Pennsylvania. [The White House]
- Weather science educators at the annual AMS meeting -- The 99th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) is being held this week (6 - 10 January) in Phoenix, AZ. The theme for this year's AMS meeting is "Understanding and Building Resilience to Extreme Events by Being Interdisciplinary, International, and Inclusive (III)" stressing the need to develop a fundamental understanding and prediction of extreme events in a changing climate that depends on interdisciplinary approaches that involve international collaboration and inclusion of diverse and underrepresented groups. One of the numerous symposia and conferences that will be conducted at the meeting is the 28th Symposium on Education, where educators from kindergarten through university levels will be attending workshops or giving presentations on weather, ocean, climate and space science education issues.
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the tropics --- Several tropical cyclones were moving across the ocean basins in both the Northern or Southern Hemispheres during the past week:
- In the western North Pacific Ocean basin:
Tropical Depression 35W (TD-35W), which was also called Tropical Depression Usman, was downgraded to a remnant low after traveling across Palawan in the Philippines at the start of last week. The remnant low that was formerly Usman brought heavy rain to southwestern sections of the Philippines. This low eventually would merge with a tropical disturbance to become Tropical Storm Pabuk at the start of last week.
- A tropical disturbance formed over the southern portion of the South China Sea over the previous weekend. This disturbance absorbed the remnants of Tropical Depression 35W (Usman) by the beginning of last week. By late Monday, the disturbance was upgraded to a tropical depression that was designated TD-36W. As of late Tuesday TD-36W strengthened to become the first tropical storm of the 2019 typhoon season and was named Tropical Storm Pabuk. At that time, Pabuk was approximately 400 miles to the southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Eventually, Tropical Storm Pabuk crossed southern Thailand and moved out into the North Indian Ocean basin (See below.)
- The first tropical depression of 2019 in the basin (called Tropical Depression 1W) developed on Saturday nearly 200 miles to the east-southeast of Majuro in the Marshall Islands. However, this slow moving system dissipated by early Monday.
- In the North Indian Ocean basin:
Tropical Storm Pabuk, which had earlier developed from remnants of Tropical Depression Usman in the western North Pacific basin, traveled across the Gulf of Thailand and then across southern Thailand. As Pabuk traveled across the northeastern Indian Ocean, it brought heavy surf, high winds, and rain to some of Thailand's tropical resort islands, where tourists had retreated from being exposed to the storm considered to be one of the worst in 30 years. As of Sunday (local time), Pabuk was weakening as it was moving generally westward across the Andaman Sea. At that time it was approximately 280 miles to the east-southeast of Port Blair, Andaman, which is an Indian territory in the Bay of Bengal.
- In the South Pacific basin:
- Tropical Cyclone Mona developed last week from a weak tropical low that stretched across the northern Coral Sea near the southern Solomon Islands during the previous weekend. By the beginning of last week, this system began moving slowly eastward, intensifying to become Tropical Cyclone Mona by midweek. During the remainder of last week, Mona continued heading toward the southeast. Over this past weekend, torrential rains and strong winds accompanying Mona spread across Fiji.
By early Monday, Tropical Cyclone Mona was heading toward the southeast, located approximately 290 miles to the east-northeast of Suva, Fiji. Mona was forecast to continue a curved trajectory, turning toward the south and then to the southwest through the first half of this week. During this time span, Mona should begin weakening as it heads over cooler waters.
- Tropical Cyclone Penny developed over the previous weekend from a weak and elongated tropical low pressure area extending from the Coral Sea to the Timor Sea, north of Australia. This westward moving system passed across the east coast of Cape York Peninsula. Continuing to the west, the low emerged over the Gulf of Carpentaria at the start of last week after crossing northern Queensland, Australia. Traveling westward over the warm waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria, this low strengthened to become Cyclone Penny, just before reversing direction and heading toward the east. Tropical Cyclone Penny made landfall on the western Cape York Peninsula coastline on Tuesday afternoon. Moving inland, Penny weaken and was downgraded to a gale-force tropical low. By late Wednesday, former Tropical Cyclone Penny crossed the east coast of Far North Queensland and then out over the warm waters of the Coral Sea for a second time, where it re-intensified into a tropical cyclone. As of early Monday, Penny was located approximately 560 miles to the east of Cairns in Queensland, Australia. At that time, Penny was heading toward the west. Current forecasts indicate that Penny should continue heading to the west or west-southwest toward the coast of Australia during the first half of this week. However, Penny should weaken before nearing the coast south of Cairns.
- A list is posted of five most extreme weather events in U.S. during 2018 -- The "Capital Weather Gang" at The Washington Post recently posted of what they considered to be the five most extreme weather events during 2018 across the U.S. These were listed in chronological order: i.) March nor’easter onslaught; ii.) A frigid and snowy April from the Northern Plains to the Upper Midwest; iii.) Record July heat in California and fires; iv.) The great floods of Hurricane Florence; and v.) Monstrous Michael — Landfall on 10 Oct. [The Washington Post Capital Weather Gang]
- Review of Canada's top ten weather stories in 2018
-- The Canadian Government's Environment and Climate Change Canada recently released a list of what it considered the top ten weather
events across Canada during the calendar year of 2018. Many of the stories focused on the changing climate that is currently underway across Canada. The top story was the numerous and record wildfires that spread across British Columbia, which resulted in smoky skies that spread eastward across Canada and the northern U.S. to the Great Lakes. Other stories included how Canada was affected by a global summer heat wave; tornadoes in Ottawa-Gatineau metropolitan area of Ontario and Quebec; spring flooding in southern British Columbia; and cold conditions in early winter and in spring. [Environment and Climate Change Canada]
- Fifteen years of satellite data used to study changes in snowpack in the Great Basin -- Researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno have analyzed daily satellite-based remote sensing data along with ground-based observations of snowpack across the Great Basin and the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains in the American West that have been collected every day from 2001 to 2015. They discovered that topography can play an important role, with more snow accumulating at higher elevations and on north-facing slopes of mountains. In the Great Basin and eastern Sierras, a transition has been found from seasonal snowpack, with a predictable amount and melt rate, to "ephemeral" (or short-lived), which are less predictable and only last up to 60 days, due primarily to more rain falling instead of snow. This transition appears to have any impact on native vegetation in the Great Basin. [University of Nevada News]
- Canadian national seasonal outlook issued -- Forecasters with Environment Canada issued their outlooks for temperature and precipitation across Canada for the first three months of 2019, which represent the remainder of meteorological winter (January and February) and the first month of meteorological spring (March). Their temperature outlook indicates that nearly two-thirds of Canada could experience above-normal (1981-2010) temperatures for these three months. The region would include western Canada (British Columbia and the Yukon Territory), the Prairie Provinces, the area around the Great Lakes and the Canadian Archipelago. However, a small area could have below-average temperatures, primarily across southern Baffin Island and northern sections of Quebec and Labrador in eastern Canada. The remainder of eastern Canada should have near normal temperatures.
The Canadian precipitation outlook for January through March 2019 indicates that nearly one third of the nation, running from southern British Columbia northward into the Yukon Territory and then eastward across the Northwest Territory into the Nunavut could experience above- average precipitation for these three months. However, a small area of central and eastern Canada, extending from Hudson Bay eastward across northern Labrador and Baffin Island could have below-average precipitation. Elsewhere, near average precipitation was anticipated.
[Note for comparisons and continuity with the three-month seasonal outlooks of temperature and precipitation generated for the continental United States and Alaska by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, one would need to use Environment Canada's probabilistic forecasts for temperature and precipitation.]
- Nearly three-quarters of the coastal states are unprepared for sea level rise -- The nonprofit Surfrider Foundation that focuses on protecting U.S. coastlines recently published their annual State of the Beach Report Card 2018 in which they report that the nation's coastal regions most vulnerable to extreme events have the least amount of protective infrastructure in place. The report card evaluated how current policies address climate change, shoreline erosion, and extreme weather in 31 coastal and Great Lakes states as well as Puerto Rico using four categories: sediment management, development, coastal armoring, and sea level rise. Only eight of the 31 states received Grades 'A' or 'B', as they were taking appropriate measures to protect shorelines from further erosion. The remaining 23 states and territories received Grades 'D' or 'F' as they have "barely adequate" or "poor" resources to appropriately manage for sea level rise and coastal erosion.
- The Pacific Ocean has a long memory -- Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Harvard University recently found evidence that the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean appear to lag the surface climate by a few centuries behind in terms of temperature; currently, these waters are still adjusting to the entry into the Little Ice Age, which occurred between the 16th and early 20th centuries. Ocean temperature measurements taken by scientists aboard the HMS Challenger in the 1870s were compared with modern observations from the World Ocean Circulation Experiment of the 1990s. These observations were used to validate the numerical simulations run by the researchers. While most of the Earth’s oceans are responding to modern warming, the deep Pacific appears to be cooling.
[Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution News]
- Tons of methane being released into the atmosphere by melting ice sheets -- A team of researchers from the United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium and Germany recently reported on their analysis of meltwater that they collected over a three-month span in summer from the Greenland Ice Sheet. They found that this ice sheet is releasing tons of methane gas into the atmosphere, revealing that subglacial biological activity is impacting the atmosphere than previously. They calculated that at least six metric tons of methane were transported to their measuring site from a portion of the Ice Sheet alone, roughly the equivalent of the amount of methane released by as many as 100 cows. [University of Bristol News]
- A "pacemaker" found for 20,000 year cycles in North African climate -- Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have conducted a new analysis of African dust deposited off the African coast for the past 240,000 years that reveals the Sahara has swung between green and desert conditions approximately every 20,000 years. They claim that these oscillations between wet and dry climate regimes in North Africa appear to be primarily driven by an approximately 20,000 year cycling in the Earth’s spin axis with respect to the orbit around the sun. This cycle in the precession of the equinox affects the amount of solar radiation in that region of the world as well as the types of monsoon precipitation patterns that occur. Increased solar flux intensifies the region's monsoon activity, which in turn makes for a wetter and greener Sahara, while decreased sunlight diminishes the precipitation, leading to a drier Sahara. [MIT News]
- African monsoons may have driven European glacier growth -- An international team of scientists from Europe and Asia recently reported finding a relationship between variations in the African Monsoon Climate and glaciation in Europe that have been occurring for hundreds of thousands of years. The team examined cores of sediment extracted from three locations including the deep seafloor near the Strait of Gibraltar, reconstructing ancient ocean currents dating back 250,000 years using a chemical analysis technique involving the ratio of light to heavy minerals in the sediment as a proxy for the volume and force of water flow at the seafloor. When northeast Africa monsoons periodically weakened, resulting in drying up the Nile River, the change caused saltier water to rush out of the Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar and into the Atlantic, causing development of the Azores Current. This current helped bring warm Atlantic waters toward England and northern Europe, with the pooling of this warm Atlantic water generating the moisture needed for ice sheet growth. [EOS Earth & Space Science 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright, 2018, The American Meteorological Society.