With Earth Day just behind us, I’ve been inspired to start a new series here at ImaGeo: semi-regular posts showcasing the truly dazzling imagery now being produced by the GOES-16 weather satellite.
It’s now on its shakedown cruise, so to speak. Scientists are still testing everything out and evaluating the data being returned by the satellite. So it is not yet officially operational.
Even so, just have a look at the animation above, and the others below, and I think you’ll agree that GOES-16 seems to be experiencing smooth sailing so far. (Although I’m guessing that the engineers working behind the scenes might take issue with that!) Read More
On the morning of the first Earth Day, on April 20th, 1970, a friend and I boarded the IRT subway line in Brooklyn and headed for Manhattan. Our destination: Fifth Avenue, where New York City’s festivities were to take place.
I don’t recall ever having heard the term “home planet” back then. Yet the basic idea already had great currency, thanks to the iconic image of the Earth rising above the limb of the moon, shot by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders on Christmas Eve of 1968. The late and great landscape photographer Galen Rowell is said to have described it as “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.”
In fact, it may well be one of the most important photographs ever taken, period. That’s because it helped us realize that we humans live on a finite planet, “spaceship earth,” as some called it, and that if we didn’t take care, we could foul it beyond repair.
As Apollo 8 astronaut Jim Lovell put it in a live broadcast from lunar orbit: Read More
It’s way early for hurricane season to start, but that’s precisely what happened yesterday with the formation of Tropical Storm Arlene in the far northern Atlantic.
Brian McNoldy, a researcher at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, writing at his Tropical Atlantic Update blog, puts this into perspective:
. . . this is exactly two months before the average date of first storm formation (June 20). It is also the 6th pre-season named storm to form in the past 6 years.
The incredible impact of California’s drought-busting deluges has now become even clearer, thanks to this compelling new animation from NASA.
You’re looking at a comparison of snowpack on April 1, 2015 and 2017 in the Tuolumne River Basin of the Sierra Nevada range. Famous Mono Lake is to the right. The entire basin spans more than 1,600 square miles, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.
The data that underlie these images, collected by instruments aboard NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory, or ASO, tell a dramatic story: Not only is the snowpack in the basin currently 21 times greater than it was in 2015; it is also larger than the four previous years of snowpack — combined.
This is great news for San Francisco and California’s Central Valley growers, since the Tuolumne basin is a major source of water for both. Read More
The home planet just experienced its second warmest March on record, according to an analysis released by NASA last week. The agency’s temperature records go all the way back to 1880
From the analysis:
Last month was 1.12 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean March temperature from 1951-1980. The two top March temperature anomalies have occurred during the past two years.
Here’s how the year so far compares with the seasonal cycle for every year since 1880: Read More
Who knew? I certainly didn’t… Saturn has a moon shaped eerily like a flying saucer.
Check it out in the image above, acquired by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on April 12, 2017 during a flyby that came as close as 7,000 miles from the moon.
This is the closest image ever taken of the moon, named Atlas, according to NASA. The object is just 19 miles across; it orbits Saturn just outside the giant planet’s A ring — the outermost of Saturn’s main rings. Read More
Climate forecast models are predicting a full-fledged El Niño by summer or fall. If it should happen, it would bring all manner of disruption to global weather patterns.
And it would also be an extraordinary event.
If you’ll recall, in 2015-16, the planet experienced a monster El Niño event, one of the three strongest on record. It then transitioned into its opposite, La Niña, which has since fizzled into neutral conditions. Now, if El Niño rises from the dead, it would mark just the second time since 1950 that this sequence — El Niño/La Niña/El Niño — will have occurred in three consecutive years. The first time was between 1963 and 1966.
But while the computer forecast models are gung-ho on El Niño roaring back to life by fall (or maybe mewing back to life — it’s not clear how strong it could be), human forecasters, observing what the Pacific has looked like in advance of previous El Niño’s, are being more cautious.
According to a forecast issued last week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is a 50 percent chance of El Niño developing by September. This is slightly more probable than the current neutral conditions continuing. Forecasters peg those odds at 40 percent. (And La Niña? Forget about it. Just a 10 percent chance.) Read More
Finally! Some relief from the unrelenting decay in Arctic sea ice.
Well, no. I was hoping to be able to report that. But I can’t. The National Snow and Ice Data Center’s most recent update shows the extent of Arctic sea ice in March dropping to a record low for the month. And that marks the sixth month in a row of record-setting lows.
On March 7, the extent of Arctic sea ice seems to have reached its maximum extent for the year, after an entire winter of frigid temperatures. But here too, there was no good news to report: that maximum extent also was noteworthy for being the lowest in the 38-year satellite record. And this is the fourth year in a row that this particular record has been broken.
“The strange seems to be the everyday up there now,” says Mark Serreze, the NSIDC director. Read More
After epic drought, California experienced an equally epic rainy season this past winter. And the state’s deserts have responded with an explosion of wildflowers and other vegetation.
Maybe you’ve seen those almost unreal photos of hills blanketed in emerald green grass, and bright yellow, orange and purple wildflowers? If not, check it out:
— US Dept of Interior (@Interior) April 3, 2017
Now, NASA’s Earth Observatory has published before-and-after satellite images of the Anza-Borrego Desert showing what the spectacle looks like from space. I put them together in the animation above. And while the photos shot on the ground certainly are more dramatic, even from space, the impact of precipitation following extreme drought is quite evident. Read More
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