The Heat is On: 2014 Headed for Warmest Year on Record

By Tom Yulsman | October 21, 2014 8:39 am

Source: NOAA

Last week, a NASA update pegged September as the warmest on record. Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has concurred — and reported that 2014 is on track to be the be the warmest year since record keeping began in 1880.

NOAA also reports  that the January through September period was tied with 1998 as the hottest since 1880.

“If 2014 maintains this temperature departure from average for the remainder of the year, it will be the warmest year on record,” according to NOAA’s report.

Another indication of what’s happening: The past 12 months — October 2013 through September 2014 — was the toastiest 12-month period in the record books.


Flares Erupt from An Active Region on the Sun

By Tom Yulsman | October 21, 2014 8:16 am
A solar flare erupts off the lower left hand of the sun in this image captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft on Oct. 19, 2014. The image was captured in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 131 Angstroms – a wavelength that can see the intense heat of a flare and that is typically colorized in teal. (Source: NASA/SDO)

A solar flare erupts in this image captured by NASA’s SDO spacecraft on Oct. 19, 2014.  (Source: NASA/SDO)

The Sun has been acting up lately, producing one powerful X-class flare and several more moderate flares over the past 72 hours.

You can see the X-class flare exploding off the lower left aspect of the Sun in the false-color image above, which was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 131 Angstroms. This wavelength is ideal for seeing the intense heat of a flare.

Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field protect us from solar eruptions that are pointed at us, but satellite operations can suffer varying degrees of disruption and even damage. And if an eruption is large enough, the results can be much, much worse.

With the rise of solar activity over the past few days, minor geomagnetic storms may have occurred, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center. These are capable of producing weak fluctuations in power grids. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, select, Sun, Top Posts

Giant Storm Rocks North Atlantic Like a Hurricane

By Tom Yulsman | October 16, 2014 11:25 pm

A massive storm with winds as strong as a hurricane swirled in the North Atlantic Ocean between North America and Europe during the week of October 12, 2014. The storm is visible in the upper right quadrant of this image, acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite on Oct. 15. (Source: NOAA)

As attention focuses on Hurricane Gonzalo, now expected to batter Bermuda on Friday, a truly gargantuan storm that roiled the North Atlantic with hurricane strength winds earlier this week has, well, slipped through the cracks.

You can see it in the image above, acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite on Wednesday.

Although its fierce winds spanned a significant portion of the North Atlantic Ocean, churning the waters so violently that waves towered as high as 50 feet, it had no name. That’s because it was not a true hurricane.

Passengers on commercial flights that had to divert around the worst of the storm to avoid turbulence might have been vaguely aware of it. But for the most part, it has escaped attention. Which is why I thought I’d feature some imagery of this monster here at ImaGeo. Read More

As Tropical Storm Ana Heads Toward Hawaii, Hurricane Gonzalo — a “Monster” Storm — Guns for Bermuda

By Tom Yulsman | October 16, 2014 10:52 am
A screenshot of an animation showing the development of Tropical Storm Ana, as seen in the infrared by the GOES-15 weather satellite. (Source:  CIMSS Satellite Blog)

A screenshot of an animation showing the development of Tropical Storm Ana, as seen in the infrared by the GOES-15 weather satellite. The animation rocks back and forth to emphasize the effect of two converging tropical waves. (Source: CIMSS Satellite Blog)

The storms just keep on coming.

Earlier this week, Typhoon Vongfong whacked Japan and Tropical Cyclone Hudhud slammed into India. With maximum sustained winds of 135 miles per hour, Hudhud left at least 22 dead and caused much mayhem.

Oh, and did I mention Tropical Storm Fay, which knocked out power to much of Bermuda last weekend?

Now, we’ve got Tropical Storm Ana in the Pacific, which is heading toward Hawaii, and Hurricane Gonzalo in the Atlantic taking aim on Bermuda — and perhaps Newfoundland on Sunday.

Ana is currently forecast to strengthen into a hurricane by Friday. The storm’s predicted track would take it just south and west of the Big Island of Hawaii, but depending on how things develop it could veer closer or farther away. (See Ana’s forecast track here.)

Click on the screenshot above to see a looping animation showing how Ana evolved. The animation, which rocks and back and forth, shows Ana emerging from the interaction of two tropical waves, one coming from the east and the other from the west. (Kudos to the Satellite Blog of the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies for this awesome animation. Head over there for more spectacular imagery.) Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Extreme Weather, select, Top Posts, Weather

NASA: September Was Warmest on Record

By Tom Yulsman | October 13, 2014 10:43 am
A map showing how temperatures departed from the long-term average during September of 2014. (Source:  NASA/GISS)

A map showing how temperatures departed from the long-term average during September of 2014. (Source: NASA/GISS)

This just in: The global average temperature in September was the warmest in a record dating back to 1880, according to an update from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. That makes it two months in a row: August was also the hottest on record by NASA’s reckoning.

Later this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will release its own, independent calculation of how September 2014 stacked up. Sometimes NOAA’s calculation differs. (But this month, I wouldn’t bet on it.)

Unless something really weird happens, 2014 is on track to be the warmest in the instrumental record.

The map above shows how temperatures around the globe varied from the long-term average in September. Two things catch my eye: Read More

Jack-O-Lantern Sun

By Tom Yulsman | October 10, 2014 11:48 pm

Active regions on the Sun glow brightly in this image from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft. (Source: NASA/GSFC/SDO)

This is no Rorschach test — the Sun really does look like a Jack-O-Lantern in this image captured on October 8th by NASA’s orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory.

To be sure, we’re looking at the Sun in two particular wavelengths (171 and 193 Angstroms) that have been colorized in Halloween-appropriate gold and yellow. Whether the folks at NASA decided to render this image of the Sun in those two particular wavelengths because they knew it would produce a Halloween-like appearance is your guess as good as mine. Suffice it to say that I’m glad they did it.

One thing they had no control over is the location of those bright, active regions — and there’s no denying that they take on the appearance of a scary visage. These are regions where the Sun is emitting more light and energy, “markers of an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona,” according to NASA. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, select, Sun, Top Posts

Typhoon Vongfong Lashes Okinawa, Poses Threat to Japanese Mainland Over the Weekend

By Tom Yulsman | October 10, 2014 6:23 pm

An animation of images captured by the VIIRS instrument aboard the Suomi NPP satellite shows the eye of Typhoon Vongfong on Oct. 9, 2014. One image is in natural color. The other is a false color infrared image. (Source: NOAA/NASA)

As I’m writing this, Typhoon Vongfong is slamming Okinawa and will soon pass directly over it. Vongfong has been lashing the Japanese island with winds exceeding 50 miles per hour for most of the past 12 hours.

The typhoon’s forecast track takes it on a projected course along the length of Japan this weekend, posing significant risks of flooding and mudslides, especially in areas hard hit by Typhone Phanfone, which left at least seven dead in Japan earlier this week.

As a followup to a series of images of Vongfong that I posted yesterday, I thought I’d share the two close ups of the cyclone’s eye in the animation at the top of this post. They were both acquired by the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite — one in natural color and the other in false-color infrared. Read More

Glittering Curtains of Auroral Fire on #SpaceVine

By Tom Yulsman | October 10, 2014 1:09 pm

U.S. astronaut Reid Weiseman sure is having fun up on the International Space Station.

Two days ago, he spent six hours and 13 minutes on a spacewalk And when he hasn’t been outside the ISS with the Earth rushing by more than 200 miles below him he’s been busy taking pictures and shooting little Vine video clips (not to mention working out on a treadmill, having fun with physics, and doing the myriad science experiments that have to get done).

He has also been posting really cool looping videos to Vine of the aurora borealis, many of which he captured during the first week of October (#auroraweek). So I thought I’d share some of them here, along with a longer timelapse video on Youtube, and of my own photos of the aurora. Read More

Every Day Wonders: Sun Dogs Over the Rockies

By Tom Yulsman | October 9, 2014 9:15 pm
sun dog

A sun dog, as seen in an HDR photograph looking west toward Boulder, Colorado on Oct. 7, 2014. (Photograph: © Tom Yulsman)

As I was picking up Moe, my Labradoodle, from doggie daycare a couple of days ago, I noticed bright, rainbow-like features on either side of the setting sun. So I grabbed my camera, zoomed in, and took some shots.

Sun Dogs

Sun dogs and halo, Fargo North Dakota. (Wikimedia Commons)

In the photo above, you’re looking at a classic “sun dog,” part of a halo around the sun caused by plate-like crystals in clouds. There was another sun dog on the other side of the sun when I shot this photo. (And btw, for a pic of Moe, an actual dog, go here.)

If you’re interested in a detailed explanation of what causes sun dogs, check out this excellent post, complete with diagrams.

As for the photo, it’s obviously not a naturalistic rendering of the scene. I’ve taken some liberties…

When I raised the camera to my eye I realized that the very bright, multihued spot in the sky and the shadowed pastureland in the foreground would be problematic. That’s because digital camera sensors (or film, for that matter) are not as good at dealing with scenes in which the highlights are very bright and the darker areas very dark. While the eyes and brain can handle scenes with such high dynamic range, cameras struggle. Read More

MORE ABOUT: photography, sun dogs

This Just in: No El Niño Yet, But it’s Probably Coming Soon

By Tom Yulsman | October 9, 2014 9:40 am
El Niño

An animation of how sea surface temperatures have departed from the long-term average over the past six months. (Source: NOAA)

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center has just come out with it’s monthly update on the evolution of a long-anticipated El Niño in the Pacific Ocean. And the envelope please:

Keep waiting…

From the CPC Diagnostic Discussion report issued this morning:

The consensus of forecasters indicates a 2-in-3 chance of El Niño during the November 2014 – January 2015 season. This El Niño will likely remain weak . . . throughout its duration.

Those odds are essentially unchanged from last month. Read More

MORE ABOUT: climate, El Niño, ENSO, weather

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ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

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