WEEKLY WEATHER AND CLIMATE NEWS
8-12 January 2018
Items of Interest:
- Weather science educators at the annual AMS meeting -- The 98th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) is being held this week (7 - 11 January) in Austin, TX. The theme for this year's AMS meeting is "Transforming Communication in the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise Focusing on Challenges Facing Our Sciences," stressing the role that fundamental communication plays as a dynamic, powerful, and essential part of the weather, climate, and water enterprise. One of the numerous symposia and conferences that will be conducted at the meeting is the 27th 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.
- A well-known meteorologist gives his take on conversations about the arctic blast gripping the nation -- Professor Marshall Shepherd of the University of Georgia, the host of the Weather Channel's Wx Geeks show and a past president of the American Meteorological Society, recently wrote an insightful article entitled "Three Observations About Conversations On The Extreme Cold Weather This Week," in which he describes the arctic air mass that enveloped most of the eastern half of the nation during the Christmas week and discusses how this extreme weather event may or may not be related to climate change. [Forbes] (Editor's note: Even though this article is becoming dated, it still is a good read for anyone who is interested in the occurrence of extreme weather events and the relationship with changing climate. EJH)
- Worldwide GLOBE at Night 2018 Campaign is underway -- The first in the series of GLOBE at Night citizen-science campaigns for 2018 will continue through Monday, 15 January. 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 (in the Northern Hemisphere Orion for latitudes less than 30 degrees and Tarus for latitudes greater than 40 degrees; in the Southern Hemisphere Orion for latitudes less than 30 degrees and Canis Major for latitudes greater than 40 degrees) 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 second series in the 2018 campaign is scheduled for 5-15 February 2018. [GLOBE at Night]
Weather and Climate News Items:
- Eye on the tropics --- Two tropical cyclones
were reported during the last week across South Indian Ocean basin:
Tropical Storm Ava formed during the first half of last week off the northeastern coast of Madagascar. Over the next several days, Ava traveled southward and then westward before reaching the Madagascar coast at the end of the week. As it approached the coast, Ava intensified to become a category 2 tropical cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. By midmorning on last Thursday, Tropical Cyclone Ava had made landfall on the northeast coast of Madagascar near Mahavelona. Torrential rains and high winds associated with Ava were reported across eastern parts of Madagascar at the end of the week, which resulted in one fatality and thousands displaced. Over this past weekend, Cyclone Ava traveled southward over the eastern side of the island before curving toward the south-southeast, returning to a path offshore.
Ava had weakened to a tropical storm. As of early Monday (local time), Ava was located approximately 500 miles to the southwest of St. Denis on La Reunion Island.
Ava was forecast to track southward on Monday before curving toward the southeast and then east before dissipating late this week.. Additional information and satellite imagery for Cyclone Ava can be found on the NASA Hurricane Page.
Irving formed early this past Saturday morning approximately
1100 miles to the east-southeast of Diego Garcia. Over this past weekend, Irving was intensifying as it traveled toward the southwest. As of early Monday, Irving had become a category 2 tropical cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Scale as it was located approximately 900 miles to the southeast of Diego Garcia. Current forecasts indicate that Cyclone Irving should continue traveling toward the southwest before curving toward the south prior to dissipating by midweek. Its projected track should keep Irving well away from any landmass.
- Last week's "bombogenesis" explained -- Many people across the eastern half of the nation experienced wintry weather of historic proportions that included record snowfall, strong winds, coastal flooding from storm surge, record low air temperatures and brutal wind chills. Meteorologists were explaining the ferocity of this storm as being associated with "bombogenesis." The term bombogenesis refers to a midlatitude cyclone or storm that rapidly intensifies over a 24-hour period, with the central pressure dropping by at least 24 millibars. (A millibar measures atmospheric pressure.) A fall in the central pressure of approximately 45 mb was observed in this "bomb cyclone" from a low with a central pressure of approximately 995 mb (millibars) on Wednesday afternoon to an estimated 950 mb (or 28.05 inches of mercury) on Thursday afternoon. The storm was also classified as a "nor'easter," a midlatitude storm that typically travels toward the northeast along the East Coast, with winds preceding the storm's center that are from the northeast. [NOAA News]
An enhanced image was generated last Thursday from data collected by NOAA's GOES-East (also known as GOES-16) satellite that shows the clouds associated with the storm circulating in a relatively tight counterclockwise spiral along the Middle Atlantic Coast. At the time when the image was made, the center of the storm was located several hundred miles offshore of the Del-Mar-Va Peninsula. In addition to the clouds, a band of snow that fell in association with the storm can be seen stretched across the Southeast, running from southeastern Georgia northeastward through the coastal sections of the Carolinas. [NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory]
Several images of the storm were also made by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite and the MODIS sensor on NASA's Aqua satellite. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- North America experienced large temperature contrasts during last week of 2017 -- A map of the North American continent featuring the land surface temperature anomalies averaged over the week running from 26 December 2017 to 2 January 2018 reveals large temperature contrasts in the surface temperatures measured by satellites (not air temperatures recorded by surface observation stations). The land surface temperature anomalies represent the differences in the land surface temperature data obtained from the MODIS sensor onboard NASA's Terra satellite averaged for this eight-day period and the 2001-2010 average temperature for the same period. With the exception of slightly higher than average temperatures in eastern Canada (centered on Labrador), most of the continent to the east of the Continental Divide, or the spine of the Rockies, experienced below average temperatures during that week. A broad area of the Plains and the Midwest had temperature departures of at least 15 Celsius degrees below the 10-year average. In contrast, the region to the west of the Rockies exhibited positive temperature anomalies, or warmer than average conditions, with areas in the Great Basin of Utah and Nevada have temperature anomalies that exceeded 15 Celsius degrees. Most of Alaska also had positive temperature anomalies. These large contrasts are the result of a highly amplified pattern in the upper tropospheric wind flow that can be better seen on a hemispheric perspective by a corresponding global anomaly chart. [NASA Earth Observatory]
- Review of Canada's top ten weather stories in 2017
-- 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 2017. Many of the stories focused on the changing climate that is currently across Canada. The top story was the numerous wildfires that spread across British Columbia, which resulted in that province's longest and most destructive wildfire season. Other stories included dry and hot conditions in the Canadian West and spring flooding in Quebec and Ontario. [Environment and Climate Change Canada]
- Arctic clouds found to be highly sensitive to air pollution -- Scientists from the University of Utah have reported that air pollution has had dramatic effects on Arctic cloud forms, much more so than forest fires. Arctic air masses are highly sensitive to particulate matter from pollution sources elsewhere across the Northern Hemisphere that tends to get trapped by thermal inversion layers in polar latitudes. This particulate matter may spur Arctic cloud formation, which can result in a further warming of the Arctic. Haze is a telltale sign of the particulate matter. [University of Utah News]
- A "methane puzzle" is solved -- With concentrations of the greenhouse gas methane in the atmosphere have been rapidly rising since 2006, several estimates of emission rates have been provided to explain the reason for this rise; one estimate involves emissions from the oil and gas industry, while another involves microbial production in wet tropical environments. However, each of these factors were as large as the increase in methane, which led to the puzzle. A scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and colleagues have used data obtained from the MODIS sensors on NASA satellites to solve the puzzle, proposing that the areas burned by wildfires across the globe annually have decreased over the last decade. Using this information, the researchers were able to correctly balance the global methane budget. [NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory News]
- Call made for comprehensive research program focusing on Gulf of Mexico's Loop Current System -- A team of researchers recently prepared a report issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that calls for an international, multi-institutional comprehensive campaign of research, observation, and analysis activities designed to help improve understanding and prediction of the Gulf of Mexico's Loop Current System (LCS). This LCS is a water current in the Gulf that consists of the Loop Current) and the Loop Current Eddies. Hurricane intensity, offshore safety, harmful algal blooms, oil spill response, the entire Gulf food chain, shallow water nutrient supply, the fishing industry, tourism, and the Gulf Coast economy are affected by the LCS. [National Academies News]
- Evidence of rapid changes in the Arctic is found -- A research team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of South Carolina and the University of Washington report discovering that climate change is rapidly causing coastal changes in the Arctic that could have significant impacts on Arctic food webs and animal populations. They discovered levels of radium-228 in the Arctic Ocean near the North Pole have almost doubled over the last decade. Apparently, diminishing sea ice near the Arctic coast due to rising temperatures leaves more open water near the coast for winds to create waves, which stir up sediments on shallow continental shelves. Radium and other chemicals that are carried up to the surface and swept away into the open ocean by currents such as the Transpolar Drift. [Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution News]
- "A global thermometer" is used to track temperature extremes, droughts and melting ice -- A team of scientists from Oregon State University, the University of Maryland, the University of Montana and the Pacific Northwest Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service have used land surface maximum temperature data collected from the MODIS sensor on NASA's Aqua satellite between 2003 and 2014 as a "global thermometer" proxy to track droughts and melting ice. They found that bulk spikes in global maximum surface radiative temperatures occurring in the tropical forests of Africa and South America and across much of Europe and Asia in 2010 and in Greenland in 2012 coincided with disruptions in the ecosystem that affected millions of people with severe droughts in the tropics and heat waves across large areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Maximum temperature extremes were also associated with widespread melting of the Greenland ice sheet. [Oregon State University News]
- Ancient shipwrecks and tree rings provide a treasure trove of climate data -- A team of dendrochronologists from Arizona, Idaho and Spain have found that an interesting link existing between ancient shipwrecks in the Caribbean between 1495 and 1825 attributed to hurricanes and tree rings from pines on Florida's Big Pine Key has permitted them to reconstruct an improved history of hurricanes in the Caribbean over the last 500 years. [Earther Science]
- Reconstructing past ocean temperatures with a new "thermometer" -- Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and colleagues at institutions in Switzerland and Japan have devised a new method for measuring the average temperature of the entire world's ocean from the surface downward by determining the ratio of noble gases in the atmosphere, which have been found to be in direct relation to the ocean's temperature. By measuring how the values of the noble gases argon, krypton, and xenon in air bubbles captured inside ice in Antarctica change, they can determine the changes in the average temperature of the entire world's ocean over time. Ice cores have been extracted from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet that span nearly 100,000 years. As the oceans warm, krypton and xenon are released into the atmosphere in known quantities; the ratio of these gases in the atmosphere therefore allows for the calculation of average global ocean temperature. The study determined that the average global ocean temperature at the peak of the most recent ice age was 33.6 degrees Fahrenheit, while the modern ocean's average temperature has been determined to be 38.3 degrees F. [Scripps Institution of Oceanography 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 email@example.com
© Copyright, 2018, The American Meteorological Society.