Yesterday I reported that even though the warming influence of El Niño is long gone, February of 2017 brought very little letup in global warming.
Now, the World Meteorological Organization is confirming that 2016’s “extreme weather and climate conditions have continued into 2017.”
The report released by the WMO yesterday finds that 2016 brought record global temperatures, as well as exceptionally low sea ice at both poles, unabated sea level rise, and continuing accumulation of heat in the ocean. And those trends appear to be continuing.
“Even without a strong El Niño in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system, said World Climate Research Programme Director David Carlson, in a WMO press release. We are now in truly uncharted territory.” Read More
Even though the warming influence of El Niño is long gone, and 2017 was expected to offer some relief from record temperatures set last year, February saw very little letup in global warming.
And now there’s at least a chance that 2017 as a whole could be headed for the record books.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is moving aggressively to halt U.S. efforts at combatting climate change, and to blind us to continuing change through cuts to monitoring programs.
This past month was second only to February 2016 as the warmest in records dating back to 1880, and it wasn’t really all that much cooler. That’s according to the latest analyses by both NASA and NOAA.
By NASA’s reckoning, last month was 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean February temperature for the 1951-1980 period. That was just 15 percent lower than February of 2016, the record holder for warmest February.
As NASA’s graphic above shows, conditions in February were particularly warm in North America and Eurasia.
And let us not forget the Arctic, which has been warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe: Read More
Fierce winds, temperatures in the 80s, and low humidity, have whipped up deadly wildfires in the Southern Plains that so far have killed at least six people and prompted the evacuation of thousands.
The wildfires appear to have gotten started late Sunday into Monday — and then exploded today. A fire official in Kansas told the Wichita Eagle that the fire emergency there was “unprecedented.”
“We’ve had bad fires and we’ve had really bad fires but never multiples at once like this,” said Eric Ward, a fire specialist with the Kansas Forest Service, quoted by the newspaper.
I made the animation above using images acquired today by NASA’s Terra satellite. Smoke plumes and burn scars are easily visible.
Here’s what one of the fires in Kansas looked like from the air today: Read More
Note: This story was written by guest blogger, Zoë Rom, with contributions from me. Rom is a master’s student at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, which I direct. She and I traveled to Tromsø, Norway together to cover the 2016 Arctic Frontiers Conference. This story is based in part on reporting Rom did while she was there.
“It was just another day at the office.”
That’s how Mats Granskog of the Norwegian Polar Institute describes the work he did aboard a former sealing boat named the Lance after he and his colleagues deliberately froze themselves into the Arctic sea ice near the North Pole in 2015. It was part of an expedition known as the Norwegian Young Sea Ice Cruise, or N-ICE2015.
With the Lance transformed into a modern research vessel, they carried out extensive scientific experiments using tons of equipment they unloaded onto the ice. During their sojourn, they endured weeks of darkness, roaring storms, roaming polar bears, and temperatures plunging below minus 40 degrees. Between January and June of 2015, the 69 researchers and 27 support crew members of the Lance also faced the risk that their “office” might disappear beneath their feet and crumble into the Arctic Ocean — a threat that turned out to be far from theoretical.
This wasn’t the first time that Arctic explorers froze their boat into the sea ice to answer basic questions about its ebb and flow. And it probably will not be the last. Read More
Unlike last year, January 2017 got no temperature boost from El Niño. Yet it was still remarkably warm.
In their monthly analyses, both NASA and NOAA concur that this past month was the third warmest January since record keeping began in 1880. Read More
[NOTE: PLEASE SEE UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM ABOUT THE OROVILLE DAM]
This animation of satellite images shows in dramatic fashion just how far California has come following one of its most devastating droughts on record.
To get the full effect, make sure to click on the animated GIF.
On Feb. 9, 2016, California was still in the grips of the drought. At that time, the waterways of the Sacramento River Delta were barely visible from space, as seen in the first image of the animation, acquired by NASA’s Aqua satellite. The second image, acquired today by Terra, Aqua’s twin, shows those waterways swollen and laden with brown sediment.
Also take a look at the coastal waters. The animation reveals that a lot more sediment is flowing into the ocean than a year ago — because so much more runoff is flowing out to sea.
| Story updated 2/13/17 with this new animation:
The La Niña of 2016 is now officially gone. Following on from a monster El Niño, it turned out to be one of the shortest and weakest on record.
La Niña, which can influence weather across many parts of the world, is characterized by abnormally cool surface waters in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean. Those have now mostly dissipated, leaving behind temperatures that are close to average for February. Forecasters expect these neutral conditions to continue for the next few months.
Despite its relative puniness, 2016’s La Niña did produce some typical impacts in North America. Read More
A journalist would never write a story saying, “No homes burned down today.” Novelty makes news, not humdrum, every day stuff.
So why another story here at ImaGeo saying that Arctic sea ice has set yet another record for lowest monthly extent since the satellite record began in 1979? After all, in addition to the low extent observed this past January, multiple record lows were also set last year — in January, February, April, May, June, October, and November.
Moreover, on a day-to-day basis, not just month-to-month, record lows are almost becoming, well, ho hum. As the National Snow and Ice Data Center puts it in their most recent update:
Record low daily Arctic ice extents continued through most of January 2017, a pattern that started last October.
Of course I’m being facetious about all of this becoming humdrum. The repetition of record lows is actually quite striking. Something really weird is going on. Read More
In recent weeks, two new weather satellites — GOES-16, lofted into orbit by the United States, and the Japanese Himawari-9 — have begun sending back spectacular images of the home planet.
With GOES-16, the United States is actually playing catch-up with the Japanese, whose incredibly capable Himawari-8 satellite has been in operation since July of 2015. Himawari-9 is its twin — and is now serving as its backup. Make sure to scroll down to see some of its first images, sent back to Earth on January 24th.
Meanwhile, GOES-16 is the first in a series of four next-generation geostationary weather satellites. Launched on November 19, 2016, it began sending its first images back to Earth a couple of weeks ago. In its capabilities, it is very similar to the Himawari spacecraft.
“Meteorologists are drooling,” says atmospheric scientist and meteorologist Angela Fritz, writing in the Washington Post about the GOES-16’s first images, including the composite above showing the Western Hemisphere on Jan. 15, 2017.
You can check out a very high resolution version of the image (almost 30 megabytes) by clicking on it. Then make sure to click again to zoom in really close. The detail is simply amazing. Read More
When I first spotted this stunning image on NASA’s Earth Observatory site, it stopped me dead in my tracks. It’s a view over Lake Powell on the Colorado River, the second-largest artificial reservoir in the United States, after Lake Mead further downstream.
Almost the entire lake is visible in this photograph, taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station last September. I was really struck by the clarity, the color, and the oblique angle at which it was taken. The photograph almost looks like it was taken from an aircraft — not from orbit almost 25o miles above the surface.
Click on the image, and then click again in the lower right corner to enlarge it. You should be able to make out a white structure in one of the blue arms of the reservoir. This is the Bullfrog Marina. Are those little white specks seen in the lake near the marina houseboats? I think so.
Granted, this photo was taken with an 800 millimeter lens — as glass goes, that’s a monster! Even so. Small. Boats. Seen. From. Space… Read More