Tag: climate

Climate: Arctic sea ice melt slows slightly in July

Experts say record low now unlikely

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Summer sea ice off the east coast of Greenland. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Cool and stormy weather in the Arctic during July slowed the rate of sea ice loss to just below average for the month,  making it less likely sea ice extent will dwindle to a record low, according to the latest update from the National Ice and Snow Data Center. But it all depends on conditions the next few months.

For the month, sea ice extent averaged 2.14 million square miles, the third-lowest for July since satellite records started in 1979. It was only the second month of 2016 that didn’t end with a record-low extent, according to the NSIDC. The sea ice extent in July was 73,000 square miles above the previous record low 637,000 square miles below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average. Through 2016, the rate of decline for the month of July is 28,070 square miles per year, about 7.3 percent per decade. Continue reading “Climate: Arctic sea ice melt slows slightly in July”

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July 2016 ranks as 14th-warmest on record for U.S.

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Nearly every state in the lower 48 reported well above-average temperatures for the first seven months of 2016, according to NOAA’s State of the Climate report.

Year to-date is third-warmest, according to monthly climate report

Staff Report

The July temperature across the lower 48 states was 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, with month ending up ranked as the 14th warmest on record, according to NOAA’s monthly state of the climate report for the U.S.

The year-to-date is the third-warmest on record for the contiguous 48 states, and continues to track toward the warmest ever for Alaska, federal climate trackers said in the new report. Continue reading “July 2016 ranks as 14th-warmest on record for U.S.”

Climate: U.S. was record warm in June 2016

Deadly heatwaves and flooding part of emerging pattern of extremes

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Utah and Arizona reported a record-warm June average temperature, with most other states also coming in above average.

Staff Report

Blistering, record heat in the Southwest helped propel the lower 48 states to a new high-temperature record in June, with an average reading of 71.8 degrees Fahrenheit for the month. That included a new monthly temperature record set in Death Valley National Park, where the average temperature in June was 101.9 degrees Fahrenheit.

The warmest-ever June reading broke the record set during the Dust Bowl era, in 1933, according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The year-to-date is the third-warmest on record, the monthly state of the climate summary report said.

Continue reading “Climate: U.S. was record warm in June 2016”

Emerging La Niña likely to end streak of record-warm years

Pacific Ocean ENSO cycle a key player in global climate

La Niña
Cooler water welling up along the coast of South America and moving west suggests the start of La Niña in the Pacific Ocean.

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.

Nearly all record-warm global years since 1950 (when accurate records start) have come during during El Niños, when the Pacific Ocean releases heat to the atmosphere and  intensifies global warming caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution. The 2015-16 El Niño was one of the strongest on record, but it has now ended, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which says sea surface temperatures in the central and equatorial Pacific have cooled to average in the past few weeks. Continue reading “Emerging La Niña likely to end streak of record-warm years”

Climate: U.S. cools off a bit in May

Year-to-date the fourth-warmest on record

May 2016 temperature map
For the first time in a while, several states reported cooler than average temperatures in the monthly state of the climate report.

Staff Report

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”

NASA looks at ‘snow-killing’ atmospheric river storms

Study findings aid forecasters, water managers

atmospheric rivers
Animation of an atmospheric river storm that occurred on Jan. 28 through 30, bringing half an inch to an inch of rain to many locations in central and southern California. Credits: University of Wisconsin/CIMSS.

Staff Report

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”

April storms boost Colorado snowpack

Much of West reports record-fast meltdown under El Niño heat

Colorado snowpack May 1 2016
April storms boosted Colorado’s snowpack, with near average runoff and river flows expected during the spring and summer in most parts of the state.
Colorado snowpack map
Southern parts of Colorado have not had above average snowpack readings for several years in a row, which could be part of the “new normal” in the global warming era

Staff Report

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”