Yes, the ozone hole has grown larger. No, it doesn’t mean that humans are off the hook for ozone depletion.

By Tom Yulsman | October 27, 2015 9:53 pm
ozone hole

Total ozone concentrations in the atmosphere over Antarctica in early October, as determined using satellite data. The blue shows where concentrations were low enough to qualify as an ‘ozone hole.’ (Source: NASA Earth Observatory)

The “ozone hole” over Antarctica grew 22 percent this year over 2014 — finishing out the season as the fourth largest since the start of the satellite record in 1979.

Concentrations of ozone in the stratosphere over Antarctica also were lower in 2015 than in most other years.

In other words, this year’s hole was relatively broad and deep.

This has compelled at least one professional doubter of humankind’s impact on natural systems to raise questions about our role in depleting the Earth’s ozone layer. As Steve Goreham, author of “The Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania,” has put it, “the longer the hole persists, the greater the likelihood that the ozone layer is dominated by natural factors, not human CFC emissions.”

Uhm, sorry Steve, but no. Read More

Bombogenesis, baby!: The Pacific Ocean just got a double-barreled blast from two exploding storms

By Tom Yulsman | October 26, 2015 9:12 pm

A screenshot from a video showing the rapid intensification, or “bombogenesis,” of two low pressure systems in the northern Pacific Ocean between Oct. 24 and 26, 2015. Both developed hurricane force winds. The imagery, captured by the Himawari-8 satellite, also shows Champi transitioning from a typhoon into an intense post-tropical low. (Source: National Weather Service)

Bombogenesis! Don’t you just love that word? I sure do. It refers to what might also be called a “meteorological bomb” — the very rapid intensification of a mid-latitude cyclone.

(For the more technically minded, by “very rapid” I mean a drop in atmospheric pressure of at least 24 millibars over just 24 hours.)

It’s a pretty cool phenomenon, and between last Saturday and today, it happened not once but twice in the northern Pacific Ocean. The Himawari-8 satellite captured all of the action, and you can watch it by clicking on the annotated screenshot above.

Bombogenesis occurs in the two areas I’ve circled in red. In each case, a low pressure system exploded into a ginormous storm with hurricane-force winds. Read More

In the aftermath of Hurricane Patricia, striking animations show where her water went

By Tom Yulsman | October 26, 2015 7:14 pm

Forecast streamflow in Texas and surrounding states between Oct. 24 and 26. The yellow, orange and red tones that ripple across the map include the impact of rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Patricia. (Source: FLASH/OU-CIMMS/NOAA/NSSL)

The coastal mountains where Hurricane Patricia made landfall on Friday, Oct. 23 helped shred the powerful storm as it sped inland. That along with other factors helped limit the damage from what had been the strongest reliably measured tropical cyclone on record.

SEE ALSO: ‘Mind boggling’ Hurricane Patricia, as seen from space

Remarkably, no one was killed.

Even so, a huge amount of atmospheric moisture continued to move northeastward toward Texas. Where did it wind up?

You can see at least part of the answer in the form of the beautifully compelling animation above. It shows streamflow as estimated by a system called FLASH (“Flooded Locations and Simulated Hydrographs”). FLASH uses a model fed by rainfall estimates to calculate how much water will move through streams and rivers.

In this case, you’re looking at an estimate covering the period between Oct. 24 and 26. That rippling wave of yellow, orange and red colors moving south in Texas, and then east along the coast into Louisiana and Mississippi, shows simulated high water flows pulsing down streams and rivers.

The result: widespread flooding. But not catastrophic, thank goodness. Read More

“Mind boggling” Hurricane Patricia, as seen from space

By Tom Yulsman | October 23, 2015 5:28 pm

As Hurricane Patricia approached Mexico on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, , astronaut Scott Kelley took this stunning photograph of the sprawling, powerful storm from the International Space Station. (Source: Scott Kelly via Twitter)

At 2 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft flying into the heart of Hurricane Patricia took measurements indicating that surface winds in the cyclone were blowing at about 190 miles per hour at the surface.

That’s down a little from earlier in the day, when 200 mile per hour readings had qualified Patricia as the strongest hurricane on record in the Western Hemisphere.

In it’s latest update, issued at 5 p.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center warned:

Confidence is high that Patricia will make landfall in the hurricane warning area along the coast of Mexico as an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane during the next few hours.

The storm poses a grave threat of wind damage and storm surge, as well as flash fooding and landslides inland.


The GOES East satellite acquired this false-color image of Hurricane Patricia shortly before the epic storm made landfall along Mexico’s Pacific coast on Oct. 23, 2015. (Source: NOAA)

Patricia will also go down in the record books as the fastest intensifying hurricane ever observed in the Western Hemisphere, according to Jeff Masters and Bob Henson of Weather Underground. Read More

Seen from space: the Indonesian fires producing more CO2 each day than the economic activity of the United States

By Tom Yulsman | October 22, 2015 11:56 pm
Indonesian fires

A screenshot of an animation of satellite imagery from the Himawari-8 satellite reveals dense smoke billowing from extensive fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra. Smoke (see circled areas) has a slight color tinge compared to whiter clouds. Click for the animation, which runs from Oct. 14 through the 22nd. (Source: NOAA/RAMMB/Japan Meteorological Agency)

Huge swaths of Indonesia are burning, blanketing a wide region in thick palls of smoke that threaten the health of millions of Southeast Asians.

So far this year, nearly 110,000 fires have broken out in the island nation (as of Oct. 22), most of them in Kalimantan — the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo — and Sumatra.  Since September, these blazes, most of them in carbon-rich peatlands, “have generated emissions each day exceeding the average daily emissions from all U.S. economic activity,” according to the World Resources Institute.

Click on the screenshot at the top of the post to watch a time-lapse video of the Indonesian fires, as seen from space. The video consists of an animation of images captured by the Himawari-8 satellite between Oct. 14 and 22. I’ve circled the areas to watch. Read More

WATCH as a cyclone lumbers and lurches like a zombie for two weeks, finally clobbering SoCal, triggering mudslides

By Tom Yulsman | October 19, 2015 10:31 pm

An animation of GOES-15 satellite water vapor imagery shows the evolution of several atmospheric features between Oct. 2 and 16, including a cyclone that wandered in a strange loop. I’ve annotated the screen capture to help you locate the features of interest. (Source: RAMSDIS Online/NOAA)

I simply could not resist using the word “zombie” in my headline for this piece. (I’m convinced that I was a New York Post headline writer in a former life…) But honestly, I think it’s legit in this case.

To see why, have a look at my annotated screen-grab above and make note of the starting position of the cyclone I’ve marked, and its eventual track. Then, click on the image. What comes up is an animation of satellite water vapor imagery. Watch how the cyclone wanders around over the course of two weeks. Kind of aimless, yes? Kind of like a zombie maybe?

I’ll explain what it actually was in just a second.

But first, this Thing was more than a mere meteorological curiosity. It slammed Southern California not once but twice (like a zombie it kept coming…), and it was responsible for the torrential rainfall in parts of Southern California late last week. This is the rain that brought on the mudslides that caused all that mayhem you might have heard about.

If you didn’t hear about it, check out this drone video footage posted to Youtube by Edward Czajka: Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Atmosphere, select, Top Posts, Weather

Plutonian Eye Candy

By Tom Yulsman | October 15, 2015 9:02 pm
eye candy

Pluto, up close. (Source: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

The first detailed science about Pluto revealed by the spectacularly successful New Horizons mission has just been published. So I thought I’d use that as an occasion to share some Plutonian eye candy — a particularly sweet image of this surprisingly dynamic planet.

The high-resolution image above combines visual data collected in the blue, red and infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum a camera on the spacecraft. The bright expanse is the western lobe of what has come to be called the “heart,” a region found to be rich in nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane ices. Read More

Godzilla, The Blob, and Son of Blob: an El Niño reality check

By Tom Yulsman | October 14, 2015 10:15 pm
reality check

A spear of exceedingly warm sea surface temperatures projected across a large portion of the equatorial Pacific Ocean in early October — a signature of the strong El Niño event now underway. (Source: NOAA)

Back in August, a respected NASA scientist told the LA. Times that conditions in the Pacific Ocean were pointing toward the potential for a “Godzilla El Niño.”

Meanwhile, a science blogger for the NOAA nicknamed it “Bruce Lee.”

Time has proved them right. The latest data released by the U.S. Climate Prediction Center, show that if El Niño continues to develop as forecast, it will go down as one of the most muscular on record.

But really, who cares about data on exceedingly warm sea surface temperatures projecting like a spear across a large portion of the equatorial Pacific? (Okay, I do. See above.) Or the weakening of the trade winds along the equator? Or any of the other factors that go into El Niño forecasts? What most folks probably want to know is what’s going to happen where they live.

And here’s precisely where things get trickier than some of the things you may have been hearing.

Some of the stuff I’ve heard is just dang silly — and worse. For example, back in August a Denver TV meteorologist had this to say about how Colorado ski areas will be affected by El Niño: Read More

September was second warmest for the globe and U.S.; 2015 likely headed for the record books

By Tom Yulsman | October 12, 2015 4:38 pm
second warmest

Month-by-month variation of global average temperature from the long-term mean. The first two frames of the animation show 1901 – 1950, and 1951 – 2000, respectively. The third frame shows 2001 through September of this year. Each colored box represents a specific month. V denotes major volcanic eruptions. (Graphic: Makiko Sato, Columbia University; Data: NASA/GISS; Animation: Tom Yulsman)

This past September was the second warmest on record for the globe, according to numbers just released by NASA.

Only September of last year was warmer in NASA’s record, which dates back to 1880. And that was an extraordinarily warm month for the planet. (NOAA will soon issue its own independent analysis of global temperatures during September.)

Meanwhile, the contiguous United States is really starting to heat up, with September coming in as the second warmest in a record spanning 121 years, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. By comparison, August 2015 was much cooler in the lower 48 states, coming in as 31st warmest on record. Read More

Although Joaquin Is Increasingly Likely to Stay at Sea, It Is Still Expected to Produce a “Truly Historic” Wind Event

By Tom Yulsman | October 1, 2015 8:29 pm
Hurricane Joaquin as seen by the GOES West on October 1, 2015. (Source: NOAA)

Hurricane Joaquin as seen by the GOES West satellite on October 1, 2015. (Source: NOAA)

With 130 mile per hour winds, Hurricane Joaquin has now spun up into a dangerous Category 4 storm — and some additional strengthening is possible, according to this evening’s forecast discussion page of the National Hurricane Center.

But despite that unsettling news, the weather models have increasingly nudged Joaquin’s forecast track to the east. Although it is still too soon to say with certainty that the storm will stay at sea, that is looking increasingly likely.

Infrared data from the satellites of EUMETSAT and NOAA have been laid over a computer-generated model of the Earth, containing NASA's Blue Marble Next Generation imagery, to create this full-disk image of the Earth. Hurricane Joaquin is visible near the center of the image. (Copyright: 2015 EUMETSAT)

Infrared data from the satellites of EUMETSAT and NOAA have been laid over a computer-generated model of the Earth, containing NASA’s Blue Marble Next Generation imagery, to create this full-disk image of the Earth. Hurricane Joaquin is visible near the center of the image. (Copyright: 2015 EUMETSAT)

Even if Joaquin stays offshore, it is now conspiring with a ridge of high pressure far to the north to bring a very long period of sustained onshore winds above 20 miles per hour. They are expected to stretch along an extraordinary length of the coast, from the Carolinas to New Jersey, and bring accompanying storm surges, beach erosion and flooding. 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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