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Archive for March 17th, 2010

El Niño Update [15 March 2010]

Posted by feww on March 17, 2010

ENSO Cycle: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions

El Niño Weekly UPDATE prepared by Climate Prediction Center / NCEP –  15 March 2010

Recent Evolution of Equatorial Pacific SST Departures (ºC)
Since the beginning of June 2009, SST anomalies have been at least +0.5°C across most of the equatorial Pacific. During December 2009, positive SST anomalies increased across much of the equatorial Pacific. From late December 2009 to mid-February 2010, positive SST anomalies decreased across portions of the central and east-central Pacific. Recently, positive SST anomalies are nearly unchanged across the central and east-central Pacific (area pointed to by red arrow in the diagram below).

Y: Time – X: Longitude –  [SOURCE: NOAA/ Climate Prediction Center / NCEP]

The latest weekly SST departures are:

  • Niño 4   ~  1.2ºC
  • Niño 3.4  ~  1.2ºC
  • Niño 3 ~ 0.5ºC
  • Niño 1+2 ~0 (– 0.3ºC)

El Niño Map. [SOURCE: NOAA/ Climate Prediction Center / NCEP]

SST Departures (ºC) in the Tropical Pacific During the Last 4 Weeks
WeeksDuring the last 4-weeks, equatorial SSTs were more than 1.0°C above average between 170°E and 125°W and near the western S. American coast.

Global SST Departures (ºC)
During the last four weeks, equatorial SSTs were above-average across the central and eastern Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans.

Weekly SST Departures (ºC) for the Last Four Weeks

  • During the last four weeks, positive SST anomalies have persisted across the central, east-central, and far eastern Pacific.
  • During the last 30 days, equatorial SST anomalies are nearly unchanged across much of the Pacific, except for an area of warming west of the Date Line.

Sub-Surface Temperature Departures (ºC) in the Equatorial Pacific

  • In mid January 2010, positive subsurface temperature anomalies increased in the eastern equatorial Pacific in association with the downwelling phase of an oceanic Kelvin wave.
  • Since mid-February 2010, the downwellingphase of another oceanic Kelvin wave has increased temperatures in the east-central equatorial Pacific Ocean.


  • El Niño is present across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
  • Sea surface temperatures (SST) are more than 1.0ºCabove-average across much of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific.
  • Based on current observations and dynamical model forecasts, El Niño is expected to continue at least through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2010.

Unless otherwise stated, information and images on this page are sourced from Climate Prediction Center/NCEP/NOAA. Edited by FEWW

Related Links:

El Niño Updates – Last 5 Weeks:

  • El Niño [Main Page, Links to Weekly Updates Archive]

Posted in Climate Prediction, El Niño update, El Niño update MARCH 2010, La Niña episode, SST anomalies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

British Govt Makes Another Straw Man

Posted by feww on March 17, 2010

UK Govt: Climate Change Denial Devil in the Detail

In Big Brother’s birthplace govt makes a straw man for others to knock down, perpetuating the fallacy of “NO climate change”

Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned posters based on the children’s poems Jack and Jill and Rub-A-Dub-Dub because it says they exaggerated  claims about the threat of global warming to Britain!

Why the Ban? They say predictions on the impact of global warming made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “involved uncertainties” that the adverts did not reflect. They received about 940 complaints.

Why the UK govt did this? British govt, in its time-old tradition, booby-trapped  their own campaign by intentionally wording the posters in a controversial way so as to invite criticism, objections and complaints, knowing that the adverts would then fall victim to the “yobbo culture” and become the laughing stock of the corporate media. This campaign was ultimately an exercise in trivializing the seriousness of the threats posed by climate change,  especially to Britain.

It was designed not only to  remove any vestiges  of doubt in the mind of the “undecided” about the climatic impacts, and conditioning them to side with the denialists, but to strengthen the atmosphere of ridicule preventing any serious discussion of climate change, and intimidating potential participants.

See also: climate change could directly affect about half the population in the UK  in the next 3 to 5 years

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Posted in Big Brother, British govt, Climate Change, nursery rhyme adverts, straw man fallacy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Arctic Ice Affects Global Climate, Weather

Posted by feww on March 17, 2010

Arctic ice-melt is not just a local issue, it affects climate, weather globally

Melting sea ice may appear to be  or local at worst regional problem, but NOAA says that changes in the Arctic ice cover also influence weather in the mid-latitudes, where the majority of humans live.

Satellite images show a clear acceleration in the Arctic ice loss for the past 30 years.  For additional information visit
Will the Arctic be free of summer ice in 30 years?

Just about every model available for the Arctic ice cover in the future predict a continuation of the present pattern, an acceleration in the ice melt.

What happens when the open arctic waters absorb the additional heat?

The additional heat impacts the Arctic winds and therefore the Arctic atmosphere, increasing the variability and unpredictability of global wind patterns. For additional information visit How the loss of sea ice leads to a warmer Arctic

Cold arctic winds move to mid-altitude regions of the globe, spawning violent winter storm in the U.S. and Eurasia.

Teleconnections impact mid-latitudes

Warmer temperatures that result from huge losses in the sea ice cover give rise to higher pressure surfaces above the North Pole which in turn impact large scale wind patterns over the Northern Hemisphere. “Climate models show these connections with cold air moving south, producing low pressure areas and unusually cold winters in the eastern U.S. and eastern Asia, and cooler than usual weather in late winter from Europe to the Far East.”  For additional information visit How changes in the Arctic impact weather and climate in Europe, Asia and the US.

See also:  Transitory Impact of AO is the ‘Good News’

How much warmer is the Arctic?

In the figures below, red, yellow and green colors indicate areas over the Arctic region where autumn near-surface air temperatures were from 2 to 6°C warmer than the normal values observed prior to 2002.

Anomalies for autumn in 2002-2005 represent deviations from the normal near surface air temperature values which were observed from 1968-1996. Figure from Overland and Wang via NOAA

Anomalies for autumn 2007-2008 represent deviations from the normal near surface air temperature values which were observed from 1968-1996. Figure from Overland and Wang via NOAA

Anomalies (above) represent deviations from normal pressure surface elevations over the Arctic. Figure from Overland and Wang via NOAA

Warmer Arctic changes the Arctic atmosphere, impacts global winds

The elevated pressure surfaces above the North Pole persist into early winter and impact large scale wind patterns over the Northern Hemisphere, allowing cold are to move southward.

Figure (below) shows the changes in the Northern Hemisphere wind fields that are associated with late autumn surface air temperature and earlier sea loss. Blue and purple colors indicate areas with wind deviations below normal. Note the much reduced winds north of Alaska and western Canada.2

The reduction in winds opposes the usual atmospheric circulation patterns, allowing outbreaks of cold Arctic air to move southward.

It must be noted that there is considerable year-to-year variability in pressure fields, and that modifications of mid-latitude weather by wind patterns associated with sea ice reduction can be complex (involving storm track and longwave interactions).

However a consequence of the changes in Arctic atmospheric temperature and pressure, following loss of sea ice, is increased likelihood of cold air moving southward via teleconnections to impact weather at mid-latitudes.

As summer Arctic open water area increases over the next decades, we anticipate an increasing influence of loss of summer sea ice on the atmospheric northern hemisphere general circulation in following seasons with resultant impacts on northern hemisphere weather. For more information visit source: Loss of summer Arctic sea ice … and  Arctic Future Web site

Anomalies (above) represent deviations from normal east-west winds over the Arctic. Figure from Overland and Wang via NOAA

Related Links:

Posted in Arctic winds, Climate Change, Eurasia winter, Teleconnections, US weather | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Let Dolphins Be!

Posted by feww on March 17, 2010

Thrill-seeking holidaymakers are putting dolphins at risk

Public release: Newcastle University

Tourists wanting to watch and swim with dolphins are now being urged to keep their distance in a bid to protect both the animals and the local communities whose livelihoods depend on them.

A study of bottlenose dolphins living off the coast of Zanzibar has found that the many tourist boats operating in the area are harassing the animals, preventing them from resting, feeding and nurturing their young.

The research, led by Dr Per Berggren of Newcastle University, also highlights swimming with dolphins – in particular where tourists swim in very close and try to touch the dolphins– as being incredibly stressful for the animals.

Printed today in the academic journal Endangered Species Research, the authors say regulation of the dolphin tourism industry is “urgently needed” to minimize the potential long-term negative impact on the animals.

Dr Berggren, who joined Newcastle from Stockholm University earlier this month, explained: “The current situation in Zanzibar is unsustainable. The local community is dependent on tourism – and therefore the dolphins – but unless the activity is regulated the animals will leave.

“Our study found that whenever the tourist boats were present the dolphins were very unsettled and spent less time feeding, socialising or resting. This has a negative impact, not only on individual animals, but on the population as a whole and long term it could be devastating.

“The problem is that any change needs to be tourist-driven. Many visitors will pay drivers extra in tips to steer their boats in close, herding the dolphins so they can dive right in amongst them. Our message is, keep your distance and put the dolphins first.”

Dolphin-watching was introduced off the South coast of Zanzibar in 1992. Today it is one of the few places in the world where tourism has completely replaced the traditional dolphin hunt – an activity which threatened the local population of around 150 bottlenose dolphins.

“Abolishing the hunts was a major breakthrough and dolphin watching offered a humane, sustainable alternative,” says Dr Berggren.

“Unfortunately, without regulation, dolphin tourism brings with it its own challenges.”

Watching the dolphins over a period of 40 days, the research team found that in the presence of the tourist boats, the time the dolphins spent resting dropped from 38 per cent of the time to 10 per cent while the time they spent foraging and socialising dropped from 19 and 10 per cent to just 10 and 4 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, travelling behaviour more than doubled in proportion, from 33 to 77 per cent, becoming by far the most dominant activity state during interactions with tourist boats.

“Overall, the dolphins are using more energy than they are taking in because they aren’t resting or feeding as much but are swimming more as they try to avoid the tourist boats,” explains Dr Berggren, based in the School of Marine Science and Technology at Newcastle University.

“Zanzibar is a wonderful place, the dolphins are incredibly interesting and between July and October there are also breeding humpbacks in the area. I would recommend that anyone go there for a holiday and support the local community but act responsibly and ask operators to follow existing guidelines.”   Contact: Dr. Per Berggren


Related Links:

Posted in Dolphin, eco-terrorism, new zealand, seal, whale | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

How Big is Your CO2 Dome?

Posted by feww on March 17, 2010

Urban CO2 domes increase deaths

Public release: Stanford University

Everyone knows that carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas driving climate change, is a global problem. Now a Stanford study has shown it is also a local problem, hurting city dwellers’ health much more than rural residents’, because of the carbon dioxide “domes” that develop over urban areas. That finding, said researcher Mark Z. Jacobson, exposes a serious oversight in current cap-and-trade proposals for reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases, which make no distinction based on a pollutant’s point of origin. The finding also provides the first scientific basis for controlling local carbon dioxide emissions based on their local health impacts.

“Not all carbon dioxide emissions are equal,” said Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering. “As in real estate, location matters.”

His results also support the case that California presented to the Environmental Protection Agency in March, 2009, asking that the state be allowed to establish its own CO2 emission standards for vehicles.

Jacobson, director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford, testified on behalf of California’s waiver application in March, 2009. The waiver had previously been denied, but was reconsidered and granted subsequently. The waiver is currently being challenged in court by industry interests seeking to overturn it.

Jacobson found that domes of increased carbon dioxide concentrations – discovered to form above cities more than a decade ago – cause local temperature increases that in turn increase the amounts of local air pollutants, raising concentrations of health-damaging ground-level ozone, as well as particles in urban air.

In modeling the health impacts for the contiguous 48 states, for California and for the Los Angeles area, he determined an increase in the death rate from air pollution for all three regions compared to what the rate would be if no local carbon dioxide were being emitted.

The results of Jacobson’s study are presented in a paper published online by Environmental Science and Technology.

The cap-and-trade proposal passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2009 puts a limit on the amount of greenhouse gases that each type of utility, manufacturer or other emitter is allowed to produce. It also puts a price tag on each ton of emissions, which emitters will have to pay to the federal government.

If the bill passes the Senate intact, it will allow emitters to freely trade or sell their allowances among themselves, regardless of where the pollution is emitted.

With that logic, the proposal prices a ton of CO2 emitted in the middle of the sparsely populated Great Plains, for example, the same as a ton emitted in Los Angeles, where the population is dense and the air quality already poor.

“The cap-and-trade proposal assumes there is no difference in the impact of carbon dioxide, regardless of where it originates,” Jacobson said. “This study contradicts that assumption.”

“It doesn’t mean you can never do something like cap and trade,” he added. “It just means that you need to consider where the CO2 emissions are occurring.”

Jacobson’s study is the first to look at the health impacts of carbon dioxide domes over cities and his results are relevant to future air pollution regulations. Current regulations do not address the local impacts of local carbon dioxide emissions. For example, no regulation considers the local air pollution effects of CO2 that would be emitted by a new natural gas power plant. But those effects should be considered, he said.

“There has been no control of carbon dioxide because it has always been thought that CO2 is a global problem, that it is only its global impacts that might feed back to air pollution,” Jacobson said.

In addition to the changes he observed in local air pollutants, Jacobson found that there was increased stability of the air column over a city, which slowed the dispersal of pollutants, further adding to the increased pollutant concentrations.

Jacobson estimated an increase in premature mortality of 50 to 100 deaths per year in California and 300 to 1,000 for the contiguous 48 states.

“This study establishes a basis for controlling CO2 based on local health impacts,” he said.

Current estimates of the annual air pollution-related death toll in the U.S. is 50-100,000.

Related Links:

Posted in Climate Change, CO2 Emissions, greenhouse gases, heat-trapping gases | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by feww on March 17, 2010

ULUI Goes to Australia

Two for the price of one cyclone!

See also:

Cyclone ULUI: Enough Fuel to Land in Australia

TC ULUI is moving slowly (6 km/hr) toward the east coast of Australia (Queensland).

Two of the available models (NGP and CMC) suggest ULUI could make landfall close to 20ºS  latitude which could mean it will strike the Australian coast as a cat 3A or 2B hurricane on the FEWW New Hurricane Scale with sustained winds of up to 180 km/hr (gusts of up to 230 km/hr).

A third model (GFS) predicts landfall south of the 20ºS latitude, which might suggest a Category 1 hurricane force, or weaker, with sustained winds of up to 150km/hr (wind gusts of about 180 km/hr).

JTWC suggest land fall south of 21.5ºS latitude with sustained winds of up to 120 km/hr (wind gusts of about 155 km/hr).

ULUI is currently located about 1,320km NORTHEAST of Townsville, and 1,300km NNE of Rockhampton, QLD, Australia.

Moderators’ forecast concurs closer with the CMC model, for now.

Dynamic Model Forecasts. Source CIMSS. Click Images to enlarge.

Tropical Cyclone ULUI
showing near-perfect longitudinal symmetry – Visible image – MTSAT 1R – Dated March 17, 2010 at 00:00UTC.   Source: Digital Typhoon.  Click image to enlarge.

Two for the price of one cyclone!

Cyclone TOMAS is still going strong with sustained winds  of about 220 km/hr and gusts of up to 260 km/hr. Its currently located near 26.3S, 176.5W.

TCs ULUI and TOMAS – Visible image – MTSAT EAST (NOAA)

Other Images and Animations

Related Links:

Posted in australia, Cyclone TOMAS, Queensland, storm, ULUI | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

UV exposure has increased over the last 30 years

Posted by feww on March 17, 2010

UV exposure has increased over the last 30 years, but stabilized since the mid-1990s

For Public Consumption: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA scientists analyzing 30 years of satellite data have found that the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation reaching Earth’s surface has increased markedly over the last three decades. Most of the increase has occurred in the mid-and-high latitudes, and there’s been little or no increase in tropical regions.

Ultraviolet radiation can damage [destroys] DNA by distorting [tearing apart] its structure. Source: NASA

The new analysis shows, for example, that at one line of latitude — 32.5 degrees — a line that runs through central Texas in the northern hemisphere and the country of Uruguay in the southern hemisphere, 305 nanometer UV levels have gone up by some 6 percent on average since 1979.

The primary culprit: decreasing levels of stratospheric ozone, a colorless gas that acts as Earth’s natural sunscreen by shielding the surface from damaging UV radiation.

The finding reinforces previous observations that show UV levels are stabilizing after countries began signing an international treaty that limited the emissions of ozone-depleting gases in 1987. The study also shows that increased cloudiness in the southern hemisphere over the 30-year period has impacted UV.

Jay Herman, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., stitched together data from several earth observing satellites — including NASA’s Aura satellite, NOAA weather satellites, and commercial satellites — to draw his conclusions. The results were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research in February.

“Overall, we’re still not where we’d like to be with ozone, but we’re on the right track,” said Jay Herman. “We do still see an increase in UV on a 30-year timescale, but it’s moderate, it could have been worse, and it appears to have leveled off.”

In the tropics, the increase has been minimal, but in the mid-latitudes it has been more obvious. During the summer, for example, UV has increased by more than 20 percent in Patagonia and the southern portions of South America. It has risen by nearly 10 percent in Buenos Aires, a city that’s about the same distance from the equator as Little Rock, Ark. At Washington, D.C.’s latitude — about 35 degrees north — UV has increased by about 9 percent since 1979.

The southern hemisphere tends to have more UV exposure because of the ozone hole, a seasonal depletion of the ozone layer centered on the South Pole. There are also fewer particles of air pollution — which help block UV — due to the comparatively small numbers of people who live in the southern hemisphere.

Despite the overall increases, there are clear signs that ultraviolet radiation levels are on the verge of falling. Herman’s analysis, which is in agreement with a World Meteorological Report [surprise, surprise!]  published in recent years, shows that decreases in ozone and corresponding increases in UV irradiance leveled off in the mid-nineties.

The Many Sides of Radiation

Shorter ultraviolet wavelengths of light contain more energy than the infrared or visible portions of sunlight that reach Earth’s surface. Because of this, UV photons can break atmospheric chemical bonds and cause complex health effects.

Longer wavelengths (from 320 to 400 nanometers) — called UV-A — cause sunburn and cataracts. Yet, UV-A can also improve health by spurring the production of Vitamin D, a substance that’s critical for calcium absorption in bones and that helps stave off a variety of chronic diseases.

UV-B, which has slightly shorter wavelengths (from 320 to 290 nanometers), damages DNA by tangling and distorting its ladder-like structure, causing a range of health problems such as skin cancer and diseases affecting the immune system.

As part of his study, Herman developed a mathematical technique to quantify the biological impacts of UV exposure. He examined and calculated how changing levels of ozone and ultraviolet irradiance affect life. For Greenbelt, Md., for example, he calculated that a 7 percent increase in UV yielded a 4.4 percent increase in the damage to skin, a 4.8 percent increase in damage to DNA, a 5 percent increase in Vitamin D production, and less than a percent of increase in plant growth.

“If you go to the beach these days, you’re at slightly higher risk of getting skin cancer (without protection),” Herman said, though he noted the risk would have been even greater in the absence of regulations on ozone-depleting substances.

Last year, one of Herman’s Goddard colleagues, Paul Newman, published a study showing that the ozone hole likely would have become a year-round fixture and UV radiation would increase 650 percent by 2065 in mid-latitude cities if not for the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty signed in 1987 that limited the amount of ozone-depleting gases countries could emit.

Clouds and Hemispheric Dimming

In addition to analyzing ozone and ultraviolet trends, Herman also used satellite data to study whether changes in cloudiness have affected UV trends. To his surprise, he found that increased cloudiness in the southern hemisphere produced a dimming effect that increased the shielding from UV compared to previous years.

In the higher latitudes especially, he detected a slight reduction — typically of 2 to 4 percent — in the amount of UV passing through the atmosphere and reaching the surface due to clouds. “It’s not a large amount, but it’s intriguing,” Herman said. “We aren’t sure what’s behind it yet.”

Vitali Fioletov, a Canadian scientist and member of the World Meteorological Organization’s advisory group on ultraviolet radiation, agreed that Herman’s findings about cloudiness warrant additional investigation. “I found the cloud effects on the global scale to be the most interesting aspect of the study,” he said. “This isn’t something you could see without satellites.”

Herman synthesized measurements from the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) aboard Nimbus 7 and Earth Probe, the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite, NASA’s Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of-view sensor (SeaWiFS) on the commercial SeaStar satellite, and the Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet Instrument (SBUV) on several polar orbiting NOAA weather satellites.


Related Links:

Global increase in UV irradiance during the past 30 years (1979�) estimated from satellite data

New Simulation Shows Consequences of a World Without Earth’s Natural Sunscreen

Ozone Hole Watch

Ultraviolet Radiation: How it Affects Life on Earth

Related Links:

Posted in Aura satellite, DNA Damage, ozone hole, SBUV, stratospheric ozone | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »