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Hurricane experts still see active season ahead

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Hurricane Sandy as seen from NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite on October 28, 2012. Photo courtesy NOAA/NASA.

Warm ocean temps, strong West Africa rainy season boost chances for tropical formation

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal weather experts this week reaffirmed their earlier projections of an active hurricane season in the Atlantic, with hemispheric patterns similar to those that have produced many active Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995.

Ingredients for tropical storm formation include above-average Atlantic sea surface temperatures and a stronger rainy season in West Africa, which produces wind patterns that help turn storm systems there into tropical storms and hurricanes.

The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is just ahead, from mid-August through mid-October. Continue reading

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Global climate report for 2012 full of warning signs

Strongest climate signals coming from Arctic and extreme weather events

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Many parts of the globe reported record and near-record temps in June 2013.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Some of the most compelling signs of global warming impacts continued to come from the Arctic in 2012, where sea ice extent reached a record low and Greenland experienced record surface melting last summer.

Another worrying sign is the warming in permafrost regions, where significant thawing could release a new surge of heat-trapping greenhouse gases that would intensify warming.

The average global temperature for the year was among the top-10 warmest on record, and other climate observations also are consistent with what to expect in a warming world, according to climate experts who released the 2012 State of the Climate report this week. Continue reading

Global June temps the 5th-warmest on record

Many northern hemisphere land areas reported near-record warmth

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Most areas of the globe reported temperatures running well above the 20th century average during June 2013.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The Globally averaged land and sea surface temperature was 1.15 degrees above the 20th century average, tying with 2006 as the fifth-warmest on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center monthly summary report released this week.

The average land-surface temperature was even warmer. At 1.89 degrees above average, it was the third-warmest June on record over the world’s land areas. Record-setting warmth was reported from many locations in northern Canada, far northwestern Russia, southern Japan, the Philippines, part of southwestern China, and central southern Africa.

The year to-date is also running hot, tied with 2003 as the seventh-warmest January to June period on record, with a combined global land and ocean average surface temperature that was 1.06 degrees above the 20th century average. Continue reading

Climate: Better El Niño forecasting ahead?

Early warning could help regional preparedness efforts

A new climate model could help project El Niño conditions a year in advance.

A new climate model could help project El Niño conditions a year in advance.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Forecasting the emergence of El Niño well in advance has long been a goal of climate scientists and a team of German researchers say they may have devised a model that extends the lead time to a year.

Published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, their paper describes how the model uses high-quality data of air temperatures as the basis for making long-term projections about El Niño, a warm phase of a periodic Pacific Ocean cycle that affects climate and weather around the world.

“Enhancing the preparedness of people in the affected regions by providing more early-warning time is key to avoiding some of the worst effects of El Niño,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who co-authored the paper with Josef Ludescher, of Justus-Liebig Universität Giessen. Continue reading

Global warming may drive more active La Niña pattern

Broad tree-ring record provides accurate ENSO history

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Researchers say tree ring records show that El Niño activity during the 20th century has largely been outside the range of natural variability.

By Summit Voice

Climate scientists have long suspected that global warming has an influence on the Pacific Ocean El Niño- La Niña cycle (El Niño-Southern Oscillation), but instrumental records tracking the shift between above- and below average sea surface temperatures don’t go back far enough to provide context for any recent changes in the pattern.

But scientists working at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa say a new tree ring record extending back about 700 years has helped decipher long-term trends. The tree ring samples from both the tropics and mid-latitudes in both hemispheres support the idea that the unusually high ENSO activity in the late 20th century is a footprint of global warming said Jinbao Li, lead author of the study published online in the journal Nature Climate Change. Continue reading

Global warming: USGS study shows 20 percent decline in Rocky Mountain snow cover since 1980

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Sparse January snow across the Colorado Plateau in January 2013. Bob Berwyn photo.

Drop linked primarily with warmer spring temperatures

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Long-time skiers often say that skiing was better in the good old days, and new research from the U.S. Geological Survey suggests that those claims are based on more than nostalgia — notwithstanding the occasional bumper crop of powder like in 2010-2011.

After taking an in-depth look at snowfall and temperature records, federal scientists said warmer spring temperatures since the 1980s have caused an estimated 20 percent loss of snow cover across the Rocky Mountains of western North America — especially at lower elevations where temperatures have the greatest effect. Continue reading

Climate: Drought conditions edge westward

Wet, cool spring brings relief to Midwest

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The most severe areas of drought encompass parts of the central-southern plains, spreading southwest into parts of Colorado and New Mexico.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Drought woes have eased in the Midwest after a wet spring, but the far West,  California in particular, are facing continued dry conditions. California has reported its driest year to-date on record, with only 27 percent of normal precipitation for January through April. That doesn’t bode well for the state’s water supplies, although at least reservoir storage is close to normal in California.

New Mexico and Nevada are in bad shape when it comes to reservoir storage and there’s little relief in sight at the end of the snow season. Forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said dry soil conditions in the southwest could contribute to higher than average temperatures this summer. Continue reading

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