Views from space reveal the staggering extent of Harvey’s flooding – now confirmed as a 1-in-1,000-year event

By Tom Yulsman | August 31, 2017 6:15 pm
Satellite images centered on Houston taken on May 2, before Harvey, and Aug. 31, 2017, afterward. (Source: NASA Worldview)

Satellite images centered on Houston taken on May 2, before Harvey, and Aug. 31, 2017, afterward. (Source: NASA Worldview)

As Harvey has lumbered to the northeast, the clouds have dissipated, finally giving satellites a clear view of what the 1,000-year flooding event in southeast Texas looks like.

The animation above tells the tale.

flooding

Image source: NASA Worldview

I created it using images acquired by NASA’s Terra satellite, the first on May 2nd, long before Harvey stormed ashore, and the second image just today. Look carefully at the center of the images and you can see the pattern of roads in the Houston area. (Click on the thumbnail at right for a labeled map that can help you get your geographic bearings.)

The false-color scheme emphasizes the presence of liquid water in deep blue tones. And check out just how much is covering a vast swath of southeast Texas. Read More

Satellites help track Harvey’s staggering rainfall totals

By Tom Yulsman | August 29, 2017 9:42 pm
This animation depicts satellite-based measurements of rainfall from 7:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time on August 25 to 7:30 p.m. on August 28, 2017. (Source: NASA)

This animation depicts satellite-based measurements of rainfall from 7:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time on August 25 to 7:30 p.m. on August 28, 2017. (Source: NASA)

Here at ImaGeo, one of my main goals is to share compelling imagery about the science of our planet. Even when the imagery is the main focus of a post, I’ve ordinarily included a fair amount of explanatory text.

But with a torrent of graphics coming in showing Harvey’s impact, I think I’ll try something new, starting with this post: the imagery with a bit less explanation, but including links to places where you can more info if you want to dig deeper.

The animation above comes courtesy of NASA. The data used to create it come from the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission – a partnership between NASA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and five other national and international partners.

In the animation, the very brightest areas show areas that have experienced the highest rainfall amounts. Many places received 500 millimeters (20 inches) or more between 7:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time on August 25 to the same time on August 28. Some areas have received more than that, but 500 millimeters is the top of the scale in the animation. Read More

Follow Harvey’s calamitous multi-day meander over Texas in this extraordinary animation of satellite imagery

By Tom Yulsman | August 29, 2017 9:38 am

As Harvey flooded Houston with relentless rains, the GOES-16 weather satellite watched from above

An animation of infrared imagery from the GOES-16 weather satellite shows the evolution of Harvey between Aug. 25 and 28 2017. (Source: RAMMB/CIRA)

An animation of infrared imagery from the GOES-16 weather satellite shows the evolution of Harvey between Aug. 25 and 28 2017. (Source: RAMMB/CIRA)

One of the most destructive storms in U.S. history continues to pummel southeast Texas and the nation’s fourth largest city for a fourth day, producing calamitous flooding and plunging a huge region into chaos.

Harvey’s center slowly drifted offshore into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, resulting in the buildup of new, intense thunderstorms that are forecast to pummel Houston with yet more rain through Wednesday and possibly beyond. Harvey is expected to remain just offshore of Texas through tonight, and then begin to swirl toward Louisiana.

Rainfall totals could top an unimaginable 50 inches in some places, thanks in large measure to the slow, meandering path Harvey has taken after it stormed ashore as a Category 4 hurricane. You can watch the storm’s evolution over most of that period in the extraordinary animation from the GOES-16 weather satellite above. It consists of infrared imagery acquired between August 25th and 28th.

At the start of the animation, Harvey was still a hurricane, and its well-defined eye is clearly visible. After coming ashore it transitions into a tropical storm.

Try to keep your eyes on the center of circulation. Once ashore it stalls, spinning off massive amounts of rainfall, indicated by yellow and red colors. It then begins to move ever-so-slowly back out toward the Gulf.

Note: GOES-16 is still in its shakedown period, so the animation is based on preliminary, non-operational data. The satellite is expected to be officially operational in September.

Here’s what tomorrow’s total eclipse would look like if you could watch it from a million miles away in space

By Tom Yulsman | August 20, 2017 12:39 pm
TKTKTK

A total solar eclipse on March 9, 2016, as seen by  NASA’s DSCOVR spacecraft.

Millions of people across the United States will cast their gaze upward to watch tomorrow’s total solar eclipse as it passes across the breadth of the nation. But what would it look like if you could gaze down on it from a million miles away in space?

For an answer, check out the animation above. It consists of 13 images acquired by the EPIC camera aboard NASA’s DSCOVR spacecraft during a total solar eclipse on March 9, 2016. Watch for the dark shadow that progresses across the Pacific Ocean starting northwest of Australia and moving to the northwest. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Miscellaneous, select, Sun, Top Posts

Despite an unusually chilly Arctic, and El Niño’s absence, July 2017 tied for warmest such month on record

By Tom Yulsman | August 16, 2017 11:22 am

That makes last month one of the warmest our planet has experienced since record-keeping began in 1880

TKTKTK

This graph shows how each month since 1880 has varied from the annual mean for the entire globe. The curve shows the seasonal cycle, with the warmest temperatures occurring during summer in the Northern Hemisphere. July 2017 tied with July 2016 for the second warmest such month on record — and was one of the warmest months in the record overall. (Source: NASA GISS)

Up in the high north, it was unusually cool last month. And unlike last year, there was no El Niño to help amp up temperatures for the globe overall.

Yet July 2017 was in a statistical tie for warmest such month in 137 months of record keeping, according to the monthly climate, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

July 2017 was 0.83 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean July temperature for the 1951-1980 period. Only July 2016 showed a similarly high temperature — 0.82 °C.  All previous July’s were more than a tenth of a degree cooler, according to NASA.

The graph above allows us to visualize not only how July 2017 stacked up to previous July’s but also all other months. It shows how each month since 1880 has varied from the annual mean for the entire globe. Read More

The record global warming streak of 2014-2016: a snowball’s chance in hell that this was natural

By Tom Yulsman | August 11, 2017 1:30 pm
This map from NASA shows the pattern of unusual, record-setting warmth between 2014 and 2016, compared to the long-term average. (Source: NASA GISS)

This map from NASA shows the pattern of unusual, record-setting warmth between 2014 and 2016, compared to the long-term average. (Source: NASA GISS)

Okay, I admit that I don’t really know the odds of a snowball surviving in hell. But a new study suggests that’s an apt way of describing the chances that 2014 through 2016’s record-setting heat was natural.

The study finds that there was a 1 in 3,000 chance that natural causes alone were to blame for the sequence of three consecutive global warming records set in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The long-term trend in global temperature. I've circled the record-setting years of 2014-2016.

The long-term trend in global temperature. I’ve circled the record-setting years of 2014-2016.

When humankind’s influence on the climate is taken into account, the odds rise dramatically. In that case there is a 1 to 3 percent chance of such a record-breaking streak occurring, according to the study, published yesterday in the Journal Geophysical Research Letters.

While those chances are still quite small, 1 in a hundred is clearly a hell of a lot more likely than 1 in 3,000. Also consider this: When a longer period of time is considered, the picture changes quite dramatically. The odds of the streak occurring at some point between the year 2000 and 2016 are 20 to 50 percent with human-caused warming accounted for, according to the study, led by Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University. Without anthropogenic warming? Just 0.7 percent.

Read More

As the Northwest bakes in a potentially historic heat wave, the region is also choking on thick smoke from wildfires

By Tom Yulsman | August 2, 2017 7:00 pm
heat

Smoke from wildfires blankets a large portion of the Pacific Northwest, as seen in this image from the GOES-16 weather satellite acquired on Aug. 2, 2017. (Source: RAMMB/CIRA)

The Pacific Northwest is sitting under a massive heat dome and a horrible pall of thick smoke from raging wildfires in British Columbia and Washington.

Source: RAMMB/CIRA

Source: RAMMB/CIRA

You can see the grayish smoke clearly in the image above from the GOES-16 weather satellite. Make sure to click on it to view it full-sized. Also click on the thumbnail at right for a labeled version so you can get your geographic bearings.

Air quality across some localized parts of western Washington reached unhealthy levels for everyone today, according to the National Weather Service. And across large swaths of the region, the air has been considered unhealthy for sensitive people, such as those with asthma. Read More

Images from space reveal the beauty and potentially deadly nature of Typhoon Noru, Earth’s strongest storm of 2017

By Tom Yulsman | August 2, 2017 4:01 pm
U.S. Astronaut Randy Bresnik took this photograph of Typhoon Noru from the International Space Station. (Source: Randy Bresnik/@AstroKomrade via Twitter)

U.S. Astronaut Randy Bresnik took this photograph of Typhoon Noru from the International Space Station. (Source: Randy Bresnik/@AstroKomrade via Twitter)

After a very long and strange trip, powerful Typhoon Noru has turned toward Japan.

As of Wednesday afternoon in the U.S., the storm’s maximum sustained winds were pegged at about 115 miles per hour, putting it in Category 3 territory. It now looks like Noru will come ashore on Saturday in the northern reaches of the Ryukyu Islands, which stretch to the south of Japan’s main islands in a gentle arc.

The forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, which is reflected in the graphic below, then takes the storm northward across Kyushu Island, where the city of Nagasaki is located, and then out into the Sea of Japan. But some forecast models show Noru bending to the northeast, which would take it on a potentially deadly march up along the main part of Japan. As the Associated Press reports: Read More

Noru transforms from a wandering weakling into a roaring typhoon that is now churning towards Japan

By Tom Yulsman | July 31, 2017 3:34 pm

But forecast tracks for Noru are literally all over the map, so it’s too soon to tell whether the storm will make landfall there

Infrared imagery captured by the Himawari-8 satellite shows Typhoon Nora churning in the Pacific on Monday, July 31, 2017. (Source: RAMM/CIRA Slider)

Infrared imagery captured by the Himawari-8 satellite shows Typhoon Noru churning in the Pacific on Monday, July 31, 2017. (Source: RAMM/CIRA Slider)

For ten days, Noru meandered aimlessly in the Pacific at no more than Category 1 strength, doing a big lazy do-si-do with a tropical storm but otherwise seemingly going nowhere.

By Sunday, Noru had weakened into a tropical storm. But as it wandered southward, it entered an environment with low wind shear plus very warm surface waters at close to 30°C (86°F).

And then…

KABOOM! Noru exploded — with winds increasing by 90 miles per hour in just 18 hours. That transformed the storm from a wandering weakling into into roaring Super Typhoon with winds swirling at 160 mph. It is our planet’s strongest storm of the year so far. Read More

Almost without warning, Tropical Storm Emily formed off the Florida coast and made landfall just south of Tampa Bay

By Tom Yulsman | July 31, 2017 1:16 pm

Where the heck did this storm come from?!

Emily

Tropical Storm Emily, as seen in a timelapse of GOES-16 weather satellite imagery covering two and a half hours, starting at about 7 a.m. (Florida time) on Monday, July 31, 2017. (Source: CIMSS Satellite Blog)

Seemingly out of the blue, Tropical Storm Emily has spun up off Florida’s Gulf Coast and made landfall just south of Tamp this morning. Where the heck did this storm come from?

At 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center’s Tropical Weather Outlook noted that something was brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. But the outlook also noted that upper-level winds were not conducive to anything significant developing: Read More

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ImaGeo

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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