Even though the El Niño warming episode is over, Earth’s heat streak is continuing. Big time.
Since July is typically the warmest month of the year globally, that means it was the hottest of all 1,639 months on record.
Let us count other ways in which July 2016 was noteworthy: Read More
The largest cruise ship ever to attempt a complete transit of the usually ice-choked waters of the famed Northwest Passage is just days away from weighing anchor.
And at least for now, it looks like the coast is almost clear for the Crystal Serenity with its 1,070 passengers and 655 crew members. As of Aug. 11, 2016, sea ice is nearly gone from the southern route of the passage, according to NOAA.
The animation at the top of this post shows the mostly ice-free route, as seen by the Suomi NPP satellite on August 9th. Have a look to get your bearings, then click on the thumbnail at right to see the full-sized, unannotated version. (Click it again to zoom in so you can explore the route I’ve marked in the animation.)
Sea ice has long stymied mariners from completing the journey across the treacherous northernmost reaches of North America. The first documented full transit of the Northwest Passage was made by Roald Amundsen in a small, wooden boat between 1903 and 1906. Since then, his journey has been repeated fewer than 240 times. Read More
In a comment on an August 3rd post at the Wattsupwiththat website, Patrick J. Michaels of the conservative Cato Institute said that there has been a “hit list” apparently targeting climate scientists, and that he had influence over who was on it.
At this point, it is unclear exactly what this list was about. But from what Michaels said, it looks like it consisted of scientists being targeted for termination from their jobs.
|Note: See the update below about an effort by ExxonMobil in 2001 to get the Bush Administration to oust Robert T. Watson as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change |
Considering the salience of global warming in the presidential election, and the unsettling nature of these comments, I decided to depart from my usual coverage of the science of our planet here at ImaGeo and try to shine a light on this.
Michaels, past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, and current Director of Cato’s Center for the Study of Science, is one of the most highly quoted doubters of mainstream science on climate change.
The Wattsupwiththat post to which Michaels responded concerned an announcement that Thomas Karl, director of the National Centers for Environmental Information, was retiring. NCEI is the part of NOAA that releases monthly updates on the global climate.
The post by Anthony Watts at the Wattsupwiththat website did little more than reproduce a copy of the press release announcing Karl’s retirement. Then, on Aug. 4th, Michaels wrote his response in the comments section of the post. Rhetorically addressing Karl, Michaels said:
I saved your job in 2000. You were on a hit list and I had you taken off because I thought you were a straight shooter. Seven months later what is detailed above happened.
Check out the image above, acquired by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft. It almost seems like something took a big bite out of the Sun, right?
And if that weren’t enough, here’s what happened a day later:
That bright streaking object is a comet plunging toward the Sun at nearly 1.3 million miles per hour before getting torn to shreds and vaporized, as witnessed by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO spacecraft.
Meanwhile, at the same time the comet was on its death plunge, the Sun belched, letting loose a gargantuan eruption of hyper-hot plasma into space. You can see it in the video — it’s that bolus of bright white stuff spewing out on the left. (Not to worry. It wasn’t directed toward us on Earth…)
Quite an interesting couple of days in the neighborhood of the Sun, eh?
First, let’s deal with the chunk of the Sun that seemed to go missing.
Since it started on July 22, the Soberanes Fire along California’s Big Sur coast has scorched at least 33,668 acres — an area nearly two and third times the size of Manhattan. Along the way it has destroyed 68 structures and resulted in the death of one bulldozer operator.
More than 5,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, equipped with 511 fire engines, 40 water tenders, 14 helicopters, six air tankers, and 67 bulldozers.
And after eight days, the Soberanes Fire is still just 15 percent contained. (For the latest on the fire, check out updates from the Incident Information System here.)
I decided to put together an animation of weather satellite images showing nearly the entire duration of the fire, from the morning of July 22 until today. The images come from the GOES-West satellite, which circles the Earth in geostationary orbit. Look at the annotated screenshot up top to get your bearings, then click it to watch it on Youtube. Read More
There are no Atlantic hurricanes on the eastern horizon just yet, but far across the sea from the United States, something is definitely beginning to stir.
More and more weather disturbances are arising over Africa, and propagating westward into the tropical Atlantic Ocean.
“As anticipated, we are seeing a bit more activity appear now over the tropical [Atlantic] basin,” writes forecaster Steve Gregory at Weather Underground.
With very warm sea surface temperatures serving as potent fuel, sooner or later one of these so-called ‘tropical wave disturbances’ should form into a tropical storm and then spin up into a full-blown hurricane. Given that we are just now heading into peak season for Atlantic hurricanes, the overall odds of that happening are increasing by the day.
Have a look at the infrared satellite image above. I’ve circled two disturbances that are now moving westward across the Atlantic. These were born in Africa in the region I’ve circled — where still more wave disturbances are brewing up during the monsoon season there.
Keep reading to find out more about the two disturbances in the Atlantic and what risks they might pose. But first, a little context for what’s going on: Read More
A buildup of intensely tangled magnetic energy on the Sun suddenly let go two days ago, unleashing a massive explosion of radiation and super-hot plasma.
The radiation explosion was the most powerful solar flare of 2016 so far.
You can watch all the action close up in the video above, based on data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft, or SDO.
When the video starts, keep your eye on the bright active region toward the middle of the frame. It’s seething with energy. Above and around it, glowing, electrified plasma flows along curved lines of magnetic field, creating huge structures known as coronal loops.
And then there is an extremely intense bright flash — the solar flare. This is a sudden blast of radiation traveling at the speed of light.
The flare is accompanied by a titanic splurt (technical term) of solar material called a coronal mass ejection, or CME.
An analogy (albeit imperfect) is a blast from a cannon. The bright flash from the muzzle is akin to the solar flare, and the artillery shell exploding out of the barrel of the cannon is like the CME.
Here’s a view in the extreme ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum (94 Angstroms): Read More
With temperatures up to 97 degrees, humidity down at just 10 percent, and winds gusting as high as 30 miles per hour, the weather forecast today is not what firefighters battling the Sand Fire near Los Angeles might have hoped for.
As the graphic above from the National Weather Service in L.A. shows, extremely dangerous fire behavior is in the offing today.
Make sure to click on the link above to watch one of the most amazing time-lapse animations I’ve ever seen. It shows the Sand Fire blazing at night in the hills outside of Santa Clarita.
The fire has doubled in size to 22,000 acres over the past 24 hours, and it is just 10 percent contained, according to the Incident Information System (InciWeb). More than 1,673 firefighters are battling the blaze. Their resources include 122 fire engines, 15 helicopters and eight bulldozers. (For a map of the blaze as of Sunday morning, click on the thumbnail image at right.)
Fifteen homes have been evacuated. Unfortunately, 18 have been destroyed so far. There is also a report of a scorched body of a deceased man being found in a car sitting in the driveway of a home in Santa Clarita. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
Here’s what the fire looked like from space yesterday, as viewed by the GOES-West weather satellite: Read More
Update: As of Sunday morning, 7/24, the Sand Fire north of Los Angeles has scorched approximately 22,000 acres, a doubling in size since yesterday; it is just 10 percent contained. The Soberanes Fire on the California coast near Carmel has grown to 10,262 acres, up from 6,500 acres yesterday. It’s just 5 percent contained.
Hot, dry and windy weather is fanning the flames of two California wildfires this evening, one just north of Los Angeles and the other near Carmel.
The Sand Fire north of Los Angeles in the Santa Clarita area, seen in the animation above, has consumed at least 11,000 acres. That number will almost certainly grow in the coming hours.
Earlier today I posted an astonishing timelaspe video of the Sand Fire, shot last night by Mo Sabawi. Check it out here:
Nearly a thousand people, 70 fire engines, nine helicopters, 36 hand crews, and five bulldozers, have been laboring in high temperatures to try to contain that blaze, which as I’m writing this on Saturday evening (July 23) is only 10 percent contained, according to the most recent report from InciWeb. Read More
The Sand Fire started yesterday at about 2 p.m. near Santa Clarita, California and has since exploded to 11,000 acres in hot and dry conditions, according to the latest report on InciWeb.
Once some imagery of the area from the Terra and Aqua satellites is available, my plan now is to come back later with a new, more detailed post. For now, check out this absolutely stunning timelapse video of the blaze shot last night by Mo Sabawi and posted to his Youtube channel. (Find him on Twitter here: @MoBawi24)
Also, have a look at this video, posted to Twitter, of a water drop over the blaze last night by a Los Angeles County Fire Department Firehawk helicopter: Read More