The Philippines is about to get the most unwelcome Christmas present imaginable: Super Typhoon Nock-ten

By Tom Yulsman | December 24, 2016 4:05 pm

Watch a dramatic animation of satellite images showing Super Typhoon Nock-ten exploding in strength and taking dead aim on the Philippines


An animation of images from the Himawari-8 satellite shows the evolution of Super Typhoon Nock-ten in the western Pacific over a 31-hour period between Dec. 23 and 24, 2016. Nighttime falls part of the way through the animation, and the screen goes dark. Make sure to keep watching. Overnight, the cyclone becomes much stronger and well-developed — as is evident when light returns and Nock-ten is visible again in the animation. (Source: CIRA/RAMMB)

Super Typhoon Nock-ten is swirling toward a Christmas Day landfall as a Category 3 or 4 storm on the Philippine island of Catanduanes. With winds gusting as high as about 140 miles per hour, Nock-ten could have a devastating impact.

After landfall, Nock-ten is forecast by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center  to churn westward and pass close to Manila on December 26. It should rake the city and the highly populous island of Luzon with heavy rainfall and sustained winds of about 90 miles per hour.

At the Category 6 blog, Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters reports: Read More

“Might not feel like it today, but 2016 will be the warmest year in the surface temperature records”

By Tom Yulsman | December 15, 2016 2:01 pm

Temperature anomalies for November 2016. North America, and especially the Arctic region, were much warmer than average. Central Russia was colder than normal. (Source: NASA/GISS/GISTEMP)

The quote in the headline is from a Tweet this morning from Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, following release of his institute’s monthly climate analysis.

It found that November was the second warmest such month in 136 years of modern record-keeping. It was edged out only by November of 2015, which was 0.07 degrees Celsius (0.126 degrees F) warmer. As Schmidt’s Tweet suggests, despite November’s second-place status, and today’s frigid cold, the full year of 2016 is firmly on track to end as the very warmest on record.

If you’re wondering what goes into the analysis, according to NASA:

…it is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations.

For more details about how the analysis is carried out, including how adjustments are made to account for the urban heat island effect, see the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis, or GISTEMP, pages — here.

If you have been shivering today under the massive blast of Arctic air that is surging south across large parts of the United States — and wondering why anyone would talk about record warmth — keep in mind that what you are experiencing today is weather. That’s the state of the atmosphere at a particular place and a particular time.

And the state of the atmosphere today in much of the United States is, well, polar. Here is what’s producing these conditions: Read More

A NASA spacecraft watches as a huge ‘hole’ in the Sun’s atmosphere rotates into view

By Tom Yulsman | December 10, 2016 12:37 pm

The solar wind, blowing at 2 million miles per hour from the hole, just caused a geomagnetic storm here on Earth

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft watched a coronal hole on the Sun between Dec. 2 and 9, 2016. (Source: NASA SDO/

A  coronal hole on the Sun, as seen by a NASA spacecraft between Dec. 2 and 9, 2016. (Source: NASA SDO/

Over the past week, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft watched a massive coronal hole rotate into view as the Sun spun on its axis.

Click on the screenshot above to bring up a video I posted to my Youtube channel showing all the action as seen by SDO between December 2nd and 9th.

Such holes occur in areas of the solar atmosphere, called the corona, where the Sun’s magnetic field is open to space, rather than closed in on itself. This allows charged particles to stream out at high speed, lowering the density and temperature of material in the parts of the corona where this occurs.

The result: When the Sun is viewed in x-ray wavelengths, as it is above, we see a dark region, or “hole,” in the corona.

SEE ALSO: What’s up with that huge dark hole in the Sun? Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, select, Sun, Top Posts

John Glenn, first American to orbit the Earth: 1921-2016

By Tom Yulsman | December 9, 2016 10:41 am

John Glenn

Godspeed, John Glenn.


The Friendship 7 spacecraft launches on a Mercury-Atlas rocket on Feb. 20, 1962, propelling John Glenn toward orbit. (Source: NASA)

The Friendship 7 spacecraft launches on a Mercury-Atlas rocket on Feb. 20, 1962, propelling John Glenn toward orbit — and making history. (Source: NASA)


John Glenn

The right stuff: A camera on board the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft photographs astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. during his historic first orbital flight on February 20, 1962. (Source: NASA)


Earth from 884,055 miles away on Dec. 7, 2016, the day John Glenn left us. (Source: NASA DISCOVR—EPIC)

Earth from 884,055 miles away on Dec. 7, 2016, the day John Glenn left us. (Source: NASA DISCOVR—EPIC)


The tropical Pacific Ocean keeps it’s cool as La Niña persists

By Tom Yulsman | December 8, 2016 10:21 am
The swath of blue across most of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific in the visualization above show cool sea surface temperatures indicative of La Niña. (Source:

The swath of blue across most of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific in the visualization above shows cool sea surface temperatures indicative of La Niña. (Source:

Last month’s forecast of a continuing La Niña has panned out, with cool sea surface temperatures persisting across most of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.

It’s a weak La Niña, and in all likelihood it will peter out by March, if not sooner, according to the just-released monthly update from the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service.

But even though it is relatively puny, La Niña is already tipping the odds toward above average warmth and below average precipitation across much of the southern tier of the United States during December, January and February. Meanwhile, temperatures should dip below average and precipitation should be more copious than normal in parts of the nation’s northern tier. Read More

Sea ice globally is at a shocking low extent, thanks to record declines in both the Arctic and Antarctic

By Tom Yulsman | December 6, 2016 10:13 pm

Arctic sea extent in the Arctic during November is shown on the left, and in the Antarctic on the right. The blue lines show the average extents for the month. (Source:, University of Maine)

Dramatic losses in both the Arctic and Antarctic drove sea ice extent to record lows in both regions during November, the National Snow and Ice Data Center has announced.

In the Arctic, sea ice extent averaged 753,000 square miles below the long-term average for November. This set a new record low for the month, which extends back 38 years to 1979.

That makes it seven record lows in the Arctic this year. And we’ve still got one more month left.

Meanwhile, the deficit in Antarctica stood at 699,000 square miles. This completely blew away the previous record low for the month, set in 1986.

Put the numbers from the two hemispheres together and you get a total sea ice deficit for the month equivalent in extent to nearly half of the land area of the lower 48 states of the United States. Read More

Electric-blue ice clouds seeded by meteor dust have been spied over Antarctica by a NASA spacecraft

By Tom Yulsman | December 6, 2016 10:53 am

Not to worry, this is normal. But climate change may be playing a role.

Noctilucent clouds

An animation based on data from NASA’s AIM spacecraft shows the sky over Antarctica glowing blue at the start of noctilucent cloud season in the Southern Hemisphere. The data were acquired by AIM Nov. 17 to 28, 2016.
(Source: NASA/HU/VT/CU-LASP/AIM/Joy Ng, producer)

As summer gets under way in the Southern Hemisphere, electric blue clouds seeded by meteor dust begin to glow high in the sky over Antarctica’s vast icy reaches.

This year, according to NASA, these night-shining, or “noctilucent,” clouds turned up much earlier than usual. This corresponds to an early seasonal shift into into the warmer season at lower altitudes over Antarctica.

Here’s how the space agency describes the spectacular phenomenon:

Noctilucent clouds are Earth’s highest clouds, sandwiched between Earth and space 50 miles above the ground in a layer of the atmosphere called the mesosphere. Seeded by fine debris from disintegrating meteors, these clouds of ice crystals glow a bright, shocking blue when they reflect sunlight.

Read More

Massive fracture in Antarctic ice shelf is 70 miles long, a football field wide, and a third of a mile deep

By Tom Yulsman | December 5, 2016 12:22 pm
A massive rift in the Antarctic Peninsula's Larsen C ice shelf, as photographed on Nov. 10, 2016, as photographed by a scientist on NASA's Icebridge mission, an airborne survey of polar ice. (Source: NASA)

A fissure in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf, as photographed on Nov. 10, 2016 by a scientist on NASA’s IceBridge mission, an airborne survey of polar ice. (Source: NASA)

A massive rift in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf has been growing steadily, threatening to cut all the way across. If it does, an iceberg roughly the size of the state of Delaware — and perhaps even bigger — will float off.

New observations by scientists on NASA’s IceBridge mission, an airborne survey of polar ice, reveal that the rift is now about 70 miles long. And it cuts down about 1,700 feet, all the way through the floating shelf of ice.

Should Larsen C throw off a Delaware-sized iceberg, it wouldn’t be terribly unusual in and of itself. Ice shelves naturally shed large chunks as part of their natural life cycles. “That’s just part of life for an ice shelf,” says Ala Khazendar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “That’s how they behave.”

But scientists are concerned that if Larsen C does let loose a massive new iceberg, this will be just the beginning of an irreversible retreat under a warming climate, eventually leading to the demise of the entire ice shelf. And that, in turn, could lead to further sea level rise. Read More

Something really crazy is happening in the Arctic

By Tom Yulsman | November 20, 2016 7:22 pm

At a time when sea ice should be expanding, it’s actually shrinking

A crazy decrease in sea ice

Changes in the concentration of Arctic sea ice between Nov. 12 and 19, 2016 are seen in this animation of satellite data. The North Pole is at the center. Areas with 100 percent coverage of ice are depicted in white. Lighter to darker blue tones are indicative of decreasing concentrations. And areas with no ice are in gray. Ice actually decreased within the area circled in red in the first frame of the animation. (Data: University of Bremen. Images: Polar View. Animation: Tom Yulsman)

Sea ice in the Arctic has been trending at record low levels since the third week of October — and now, something really crazy is happening up there.

The Arctic is heading into the dead of winter, and across a vast swath of territory, the polar night has descended, with 24 hours of darkness each day. This is when temperatures should be plunging, and sea ice should be expanding rapidly.

Instead, temperatures are soaring, and sea ice is actually shrinking

This shouldn’t be happening. Read More

2016 on track to smash record for warmest year globally

By Tom Yulsman | November 16, 2016 9:54 am

“No surprise here, planetary warming does not care about the election”

Here's how temperatures differed from average around the globe in October 2016, which was the second warmest such month on record. Note the particularly intense warmth in the Arctic. (Source: NASA GISS)

Here’s how temperatures differed from average around the globe in October. Note the particularly intense warmth in the Arctic. (Source: NASA GISS)

The heat streak continues, with October 2016 coming in as second warmest such month on record, according to the latest monthly update from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Global average temperature during October 2016 was 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.89 degrees Celsius), warmer than the 1951-1980 mean for the month.

The three warmest Octobers on record have now occurred during the last three years. Looking at an even longer period, the top 10 October temperature anomalies all have occurred since 2000.

“We continue to stress that long-term trends are the important thing, much more so than monthly rankings,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of the Goddard institute, in a statement issued yesterday.

Here’s that long-term trend, with Schmidt’s prediction for 2016 overall — along with a little editorial comment about the recent election:  Read More



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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