‘Weatherbomb’ Storm from 38,000 Feet

By Tom Yulsman | January 16, 2015 6:09 pm
The view from 38,000 aboard a 747-400 of clouds associated with a powerful North Atlantic storm on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2014. (iPhone Photo: © Tom Yulsman)

Through the window of a 747-400 over the North Atlantic on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2014. (iPhone Photo: © Tom Yulsman)

Pic of the Day

Yesterday, just as a second blast from a powerful “weatherbomb” was about to hit Ireland, I was high above in a Lufthansa 747-400, on my way to Frankfurt, Germany. The sun was rising above the thick soup below, casting an ethereal peach glow on the roiling clouds, so I pulled out my iPhone and grabbed the shot.

To make things even better, a bright crescent moon was floating in a stunning deep-blue sky.

The storm brought gales, snow, rain and high surf to Ireland and the British Isles starting last Wednesday, Jan. 14th and continuing again on the 15th.

And by the way, “weatherbomb” is not my term for the storm. It comes from a meteorological process called “bombogenesis” in which the central pressure in a storm drops rapidly. Andrew Freedman explains it nicely at Mashable.

The second blast of storminess that I witnessed from above was the result of a storm that originally stretched all the way from the east coast of the United States to Europe. In the satellite image below, I’ve drawn a line tracing the long swath of water vapor that stretched all the way across the Atlantic.  Read More

Guest Pic of the Day: A Solar Flare Photographed by a Plucky NASA Spacecraft

By Tom Yulsman | January 13, 2015 9:30 pm

A mid-level solar flare, imaged by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft on Jan. 12, 2015. (Source: NASA/SDO)

Pic of the Day

The sun emitted it’s biggest solar flare of the year so far, and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft was there to capture all of the action.

You can see the flare exploding off the right side of the Sun in the image above, acquired by SDO at 11:24 p.m. EST yesterday (January 12th).

Here’s a brief explanation of solar flares from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center: Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Pic of the Day, select, Sun, Top Posts

A Tragic Death — But Also a Lasting Legacy: New Knowledge About Humankind’s Impact on the Home Planet

By Tom Yulsman | January 13, 2015 9:02 pm

The late Alberto Behar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, on the Greenland Ice Sheet with a robotic boat he designed. (Source: UCLA/Laurence C. Smith)

Yesterday, I got the sad news that Alberto Behar, a scientist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, had died in a plane crash in Pasadena, Calif.

Today, we learned anew how much of a contribution he made to understanding of humankind’s impact on our planet. Thanks in large measure to the robotic craft and instruments Behar designed, scientists have shown that summertime meltwater rivers atop the Greenland Ice Sheet are contributing directly — and significantly — to global sea level rise.

More about that in a minute. But first, I thought I’d share a snippet of Andy Revkin’s fitting tribute to Behar at DotEarth: Read More

Frosty Day

By Tom Yulsman | January 13, 2015 12:12 am

Frost crystals on a pine cone and needles. (Photograph: © Tom Yulsman

Pic(s) of the Day

Today was — in a word — frosty.

I don’t mean simply cold, because here along the Front Range of Colorado it wasn’t all that bad today. I mean literally frosty.

Rime ice frosty, to be more precise.

I discovered this during a walk late in the afternoon at the foot of the mountains on the west end of Boulder, Colorado. For much of the day, the slopes just west of town were enveloped in freezing flog. Water droplets in this fog were actually cooled below the freezing point of 32ºF (0ºC). Pushed by the breeze, these droplets froze on contact with grasses, pine cones and needles, and other forms of vegetation as well.

The image above shows the result. It is today’s Pic of the Day installment. And since I fell behind yesterday, I thought I’d include a couple of other images I shot during my perambulations today as well. Read More

MORE ABOUT: Boulder, frost, rime, weather

Niwotian Tableau

By Tom Yulsman | January 11, 2015 1:14 am

Niwot, CO., Jan. 10, 2015

Pic of the Day

Here along the base of Colorado’s Front Range, we’ve been experiencing a kind of schizophrenic freeze-thaw cycle recently. And today we enjoyed the thaw part of the seesaw.

I took advantage of the warming temperatures to enjoy a sloppy run on muddy back roads near my home town of Niwot. I’m always on the hunt for a good image for this Pic of the Day feature, so I brought my iPhone — and captured this Niwotian tableau. I thought I’d share it with you.


California Browning, on Such a Winters’ Day

By Tom Yulsman | January 10, 2015 10:20 pm

An animation of satellite images shows what looks like a browning of California since heavy precipitation fell in December. (Source: NASA)

Sorry, but I just couldn’t help the reference in the headline to California Dreamin’ by the Mamas & the Papas. But it came to mind when I compared satellite images of California acquired just 11 days apart.

The images come from NASA’s Aqua satellite, and I’ve made them into the animation above. The first was captured by the Aqua satellite on Dec. 28th, 2014. To my eye, the landscape still shows a fair bit of green brought on by storms earlier in the month. The second image was acquired in the new year, on Jan. 7th.

I processed both images to try to get the exposure levels consistent so that a comparison would be meaningful. And to my eye, it does look like California has been browning — and over an alarmingly short period. But I have to include a big caveat: Some or all of what we see here could be an artifact of the imaging itself and therefore may not be wholly real.

So if you live in California, and you have noticed browning of the landscape over the past couple of weeks, please share your observations in the comments section.

We do know a few things for sure. Read More

Beautiful Badlands and Ogalala Lakota Nation, From Above

By Tom Yulsman | January 10, 2015 1:27 pm

An iPhone photo of the Badlands and part of Pine Ridge in South Dakota. (Photograph: © Tom Yulsman)

Pic of the Day

I spent most of the day in meetings yesterday, so I did not have an opportunity to go out and shoot a Pic of the Day photo. As an alternative, I offer this black and white image of the Badlands and part of Pine Ridge in South Dakota.

The land in this photo is within the Ogalala Lakota Nation (also known as the Pine Ridge Reservation). Click here for a Google Maps image of the area.

I shot the photograph with my iPhone a little over a year ago toward the end of a flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Denver. Read More

And Now for Something Completely Different

By Tom Yulsman | January 8, 2015 6:14 pm


Pic of the Day

If you’ve been following the daily Pic of the Day feature here at ImaGeo, you’ve probably seen that I’ve been posting conventional photographs, mostly of natural subjects. (Although yesterday, I went with a nighttime shot of a petroleum drilling rig.)

Today, I thought I’d go with something completely different. I’m calling it “Mangling Mangelsen.” Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Miscellaneous, Pic of the Day

U.S. Climate in 2014: One Country, A Tale of Two Regions

By Tom Yulsman | January 8, 2015 5:12 pm

two regions

The second warmest December on record boosted 2014 to the 34th warmest year in the contiguous United States, according to a report released today by the U.S. National Climatic Data Center.  The record extends back to 1895.

This marks the 18th consecutive year that the U.S. temperature exceeded the 20th century average.

But it certainly wasn’t close to being a record breaker in the United States (although it almost certainly will turn out that way globally for the year). The map above — and maybe your own experience if you live in the nation’s midsection — shows why.

When it comes to temperature, the orange and red colors, and the blue ones on the other hand, tell a tale of two regions. The West was exceedingly warm, with California, Arizona, and parts of Nevada and Oregon experiencing record warmth. A good portion of the rest of the region was much above average. Meanwhile, a swath of territory stretching from the Great Lakes in the north all the way down to Louisiana was much below average.

And now, of course, 2015 has begun with a remarkably similar pattern. Read More

El Niño Turns into “El Limbo”

By Tom Yulsman | January 8, 2015 11:38 am
El Limbo

A comparison of tropical Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies shows moderate El Niño conditions in 2010 versus what things look like now. (Images: National Climatic Data Center. Animation: Tom Yulsman)

Last month, conditions in the tropical Pacific were looking increasingly El Niñoish. But right now, a better term for what’s happening might be “El Limbo.”

The odds of a full-blown El Niño occurring are now just 50 to 60 percent, down from 65 percent last month, according to the monthly report from the U.S. Climate Prediction Center, released this morning.  What’s more, if El Niño does finally emerge in the next few weeks, in all likelihood it won’t last long. Neutral conditions are most likely by March, according to the CPC.

El LimboWhy should we care? Click on the thumbnail at right for a visual answer to that question.

The map shows what kind of weather impacts El Niño typically brings to North America. And did you see it — that streak of green indicating wet conditions across the southern tier of the United States?

The bottom line: If you eat fruits and vegetables you should care about what’s happening in the tropical Pacific because a full-blown El Niño would raise the odds of relief from the brutal drought that has gripped California — the nation’s fruit and vegetable basket. Should California’s drought continue, crop failures could lead to tightening supplies and rising prices.

So, what happened in the tropical Pacific that led the Climate Prediction Center to let Californians down (and all of us, really) with its lowering of the El Niño odds? Read More


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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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