Pacific Ocean ENSO cycle a key player in global climate
By Bob Berwyn
The shift from a powerful El Niño to the cooler La Niña phase of Pacific Ocean temperatures will temporarily end the planet’s recent record streak of record-warm years, according to climate scientists who see the cyclical ocean changes as a key factor in the long-term global climate change equation.
After a string of record and near-record warm months, the contiguous U.S. cooled off a bit in May. More than 10 states, mostly in the midsection of the country, reported a monthly temperature lower than the 20th century average, according to the latest state of the climate report from NOAA.
For the lower 48 states together, the May temperature was just 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, putting it near the middle of the 122-year record. The northern tier of states reported above average temperatures, with record warmth reported from Washington. Continue reading “Climate: U.S. cools off a bit in May”→
The famed Pineapple Express touted by skiers in the Western U.S. may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Instead of bringing fresh powder, the the atmospheric river storms, as they’re technically known, more often bring snow-destroying rain to many areas.
A new study by NASA and several other research institutions took a close look at data from satellites and ground observations from 1998 through 2014 to show the connection between atmospheric river storms and rain-on-snow events. According to the study, the atmospheric rivers are two-and-a-half times more likely than other types of winter storms to result in destructive “rain-on-snow” events, which increase flood risks in winter and reduce water availability the following summer. Continue reading “NASA looks at ‘snow-killing’ atmospheric river storms”→
Much of West reports record-fast meltdown under El Niño heat
April storms helped boost Colorado’s statewide snowpack to above average, but two river basins in the southern part of the state continue to report below normal readings.
The state’s mountain areas benefited the most from a series of wet, El Niño-fueled storms, bringing precipitation for the water year to average, according to Brian Domonkos, the Colorado snow survey supervisor for the USDA Natural Resources conservation service.
“At this time last year the water supply outlook was grim at best,” Domonkos said. “Colorado’s current snowpack and precipitation levels are right where we want to be this time of year. Elsewhere in the Western United States seasonal snowpack during 2016 succumbed to early spring warming and did not recover as Colorado did from recent storms,” he added. Continue reading “April storms boost Colorado snowpack”→
Combing climate data with travel patterns, researchers with the Center for Disease Control and the National Center for Atmospheric Research say Zika virus outbreaks could occur as soon as this summer in parts of south Texas and Florida.
The study shows that the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is spreading the virus in much of Latin America and the Caribbean, probably will become more abundant across much of the southern and eastern United States as the weather warms.