Climate: El Niño could extend Pacific Northwest drought

NOAA updates seasonal outlook; El Niño likely to persist into spring

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Warmer than average sea surface temperatures prevail across most of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean, as El Niño continues to strengthen.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Federal weather experts today said they’re more sure than ever that a strong El Niño will persist through the fall and winter, but they are less certain about how the cyclical Pacific Ocean climate pattern will play out across the U.S. The Aug. 13 El Niño update and diagnostic discussion is online here — it says there’s a 90 percent chance El Niño will last through the winter and an 85 percent chance it will last into early spring 2016.

During an El Niño, sea surface temperatures are above average across the eastern and central equatorial Pacific, and this year’s event could be among the strongest on record dating back to 1950, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. Continue reading

Study: Subtle climate shifts boost Galapagos penguins

"Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) -Isabela2" by putneymark - originally posted to Flickr as Galapagos penguin Isabela Elizabeth Bay. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Galapagos_penguin_(Spheniscus_mendiculus)_-Isabela2.jpg#/media/File:Galapagos_penguin_(Spheniscus_mendiculus)_-Isabela2.jpg

“Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) -Isabela2”  by putneymark – originally posted to Flickr as Galapagos penguin Isabela Elizabeth Bay. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Research shows how climate shifts can play out in local ecosystems

Staff Report

FRISCO — Rare Galápagos penguins may be benefiting from shifts in trade winds and ocean currents, researchers said after tracking subtle climate shifts that have enlarged a cold pool of water the penguins rely on for food and breeding.

The trend could continue during the coming decades, helping to bolster northern hemisphere’s only penguin population, which has doubled from just a few hundred to about 1,000 in the last 30 years, the scientists said in paper to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, an American Geophysical Union journal.

“The penguins are the innocent bystanders experiencing feast or famine depending on what the Equatorial Undercurrent is doing from year to year,” said Kristopher Karnauskas, a climate scientist who performed the research while at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Continue reading

Climate: Coral reefs taking a big hit this year

A diverse coral reef in the U.S. Virgin Islands. PHOTO BY CAROLINE ROGERS/USGS.

Coral reefs in the Caribbean, like this one in the U.S. Virgin Islands, are at risk of bleaching as global warming heats up the world’s oceans. Photo by Caroline Rogers/USGS.

Warm oceans leading to widespread reef bleaching

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ocean researchers have updated their warnings of potential coral reef bleaching based on unusually warm ocean temperatures across the north Pacific, equatorial Pacific, and western Atlantic oceans this summer.

Scientists with NOAA’s coral reef watch say they expect  bleaching of corals on Northern Hemisphere reefs through October, potentially leading to the death of corals over a wide area and affecting the long-term supply of fish and shellfish.

“The bleaching that started in June 2014 has been really bad for corals in the western Pacific,” said Mark Eakin, NOAA Coral Reef Watch coordinator. “We are worried that bleaching will spread to the western Atlantic and again into Hawaii.” Continue reading

May was a drought-buster for eastern Colorado

Wet summer ahead?

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May precipitation broke the all-time record for Colorado.

Every part of Colorado saw above normal precipitation in Many.

Every part of Colorado saw above normal precipitation in May.

Staff Report

FRISCO — May brought drought-busting precipitation to much of Colorado, state climate experts said last week during their monthly Water Availability Task Force meeting in Denver.

The beneficial moisture erased a long-running drought in southeastern Colorado and also helped boost the streamflow outlook in the Rio Grande Basin, where a meager winter snowpack had lowered expectations for summer runoff.

By contrast, the far western third of the state is still designated as experiencing abnormally dry conditions by the National Drought Monitor, which also shows a pocket of moderate drought across western Gunnison and much of Delta counties. Continue reading

Hurricane Carlos raking the Mexican Riviera

Strengthening El Niño fueling tropical storms in eastern Pacific

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A NOAA satellite image shows Hurricane Carlos strengthening off southern Mexico.

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Hurricane Carlos is moving slowly northwestward along the southern Coast of Mexico. Via National Hurricane Center.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Taking a track parallel to the southern coast of Mexico, Hurricane Carlos has spurred warnings and watches along a long section of shoreline. Parts of southern Mexico could get pummeled by high winds, rain and surf the next few days, although the National Hurricane Center says the the storm’s path is still uncertain.

For now, a hurricane warming is in effect from Punta San Telmo to Tecpan de Galeana, with a hurricane watch extending west from Punta san Telmo to Manzanillo. Carlos is generating winds of about 80 mph and could strengthen in the next couple of days, with winds of up to 90 mph as it nears the coast. Continue reading

Climate: Is this year’s El Niño here to stay?

Forecasters nearly certain pattern will persist at least through the end of summer and probably to the end of the year

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Warm sea surface temperatures along the equatorial Pacific show the shape of El Niño.

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A classic El Niño sea surface temperature pattern is projected in this map from NOAA.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A developing Pacific El Niño is already affecting weather patterns across the western U.S. by bringing abundant spring moisture to the region, including late season snow and rain to parts of parched California.

And last week meteorologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said El Niño is likely to stick around for the summer and probably even through the end of the year, perhaps even gaining strength. More on the forecast in this NOAA El Niño blog.
Continue reading

Climate: Warmest winter ever for northern hemisphere

February 2015 ends up as 2d-warmest for planet Earth

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Only a few areas where cooler than average during February 2015.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A decades-long run of above average temperatures around the globe continues unabated, with last month’s average reading coming in at 1.48 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. According to the new monthly State of the Climate Report from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center, it was the second-warmest February on record, after 1998.

The winter as a whole (December-February) was the warmest on record for Earth, at 1.42 degrees Fahrenheit above average, and 0.05 degrees above the previous record set in 2007. Read the full NCDC report here. Continue reading

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