Courtesy jef safiHere in Minnesota, a whole lotta snow in the winter can lead to a whole lotta messy flooding in the spring. That's probably why the Federal Weather Folk--aka the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA--base their National Operational Hydrological Remote Sensing Center up here in Chanhassen.
By looking at the snow conditions across the north, the NOHRSC can predict possible flooding when the seasons begin to change. The Star Tribune has an interesting article on how NOHRSC uses low flying planes and other forms of remote sensing to keep track of snow on the ground. Did you know that you can be a snow physicist?
So what can we expect this spring? Flooding is on the menu, and the folks at NOHRSC are flying around the north of the country to figure out where.
A prominent federal meteorologist has reversed his stance on global warming’s role in the recent increase in hurricanes. Tom Knutson, a researcher for the NOAA fluid dynamics lab in Princeton, has published a new paper in the journal Nature Geoscience predicting that Atlantic hurricanes will decrease by 18 percent by century’s end.
The new study is already brewing up a storm of its own because Knutson has complained in the past of being censored by the Bush administration for his previous views of climate change’s adverse effect on weather. Not surprisingly other researchers contend Knutson’s new computer models are flawed. Read the full story here.
Ever wanted to be a storm spotter? Now's your chance! The National Weather Service (NWS) relies on local SKYWARN storm spotters to confirm, from the ground, what meteorologists are seeing on radar. NWS storm spotters are not tornado chasers like the folks in the movie "Twister." Instead, they report wind gusts, hail size, rainfall, cloud formations, and the like to NWS and local emergency management agencies.
New radar equipment is still not sensitive enough to determine the existence of an actual tornado. It can only predict where severe weather is likely to occur. So the NWS needs trained volunteers to verify actual severe weather.
With peak storm season just around the corner (mid-June here in the Upper Midwest), free, 2.5-hour classes are being offered to train new SkyWarn volunteers.
Climate monitoring branch chief, Jay Lawrimore, has grown accustomed to having records broken but says that January was a bigger jump than the world has seen in about ten years. The global land average temperature didn't just nudge past the old record set in 2002, but broke that mark by 0.81 degrees Fahrenheit (0.56C), which meteorologists said is a lot, since such records often are broken by hundredths of a degree at a time.
The temperature of the world's land and water combined -- the most effective measurement -- was 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit (0.96C) warmer than normal, breaking the old record by more than one-quarter of a degree. The world's temperature record was driven by northern latitudes. Siberia was on average 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5.1C) warmer than normal. Eastern Europe had temperatures averaging 8 degrees Fahrenheit (4.55C) above normal. Canada on average was more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.88C) warmer than normal. NOAA
The United States yearly average temperature record was broken in 2006(NOAA News). Here in Minneapolis-St Paul, the temperature was 17 degrees F above average for the last three weeks of 2006. Also in 2006, the United States set an all-time record for forest fires with more than 9.8 million acres burned in more than 96,000 wildfires.
We seem to be living in turbulent times. Can you give examples of other records being set?
That seems to be the conclusion of a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that finds the northern Gulf of Mexico is sinking much faster than previously thought.
Every year, the Mississippi and other rivers dump millions of tons of sediment into the Gulf. All that weight pushes down on the Earth, causing some shoreline areas to disappear entirely, and other to sink dangerously low. Low-lying areas are vulnerable to flooding, especially during hurricane season.
Planners need to know how high or low each area is, in order to make the proper precautions. But a recent re-measuring showed that Louisiana is sinking faster than expected. Hurricane preparations currently underway may not be enough to protect some areas.
Last year's hurricane season sprouted an unusually high number of tropical storms — 15 in all. Some folks have blamed global climate change. But researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the increase is perfectly natural. Hurricanes follow a natural cycle, peaking every 15 to 40 years, then dropping back and becoming rarer again.
Other researchers disagree. They say rising global temperatures lead to warmer water, a key ingredient in forming hurricanes.
Few people doubt that the Earth's climate is growing warmer. But how much of that is just a natural cycle, and how much of it is caused by human activity? And what will all the effects of this change be? No one knows for sure. Meanwhile the debate, and research, go on.