2016-03-11. Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change.
Authors: Committee on
Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change Attribution; Board on
Atmospheric Sciences and Climate; Division on Earth and Life Studies;
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
2014-03-27. Two interesting resources have been added to chapter 7 of Energy Flow (http://www.globalsystemsscience.org/studentbooks/ef/ch7): (1) announcement from NASA Release 14-086 (http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/march/first-images-available-from-nasa-jaxa-global-rain-and-snowfall-satellite/#.UzHYa15GLHQ) of first images captured by the newest Earth-observing satellite, the
Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory including 3D representation of the structure of a storm; and (2) an interactive Earth display that allows you to select atmospheric properties - http://earth.nullschool.net/ - See the end of GSS Energy Flow chapter 7 (http://www.globalsystemsscience.org/studentbooks/ef/ch7)
2013-11-18. Midwest Tornadoes: Severe Storms Sweep Across 12 States, Killing 6. Excerpt: ...Early Monday, Washington [IL] Mayor Gary Manier estimated that from 250 to 500 homes were either damaged or destroyed in the storm and that it wasn't clear when residents would be allowed to return. ...The unusually powerful late-season wave of thunderstorms brought damaging winds and tornadoes to 12 states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and western New York. ...Illinois was the hardest struck with at least six people killed and dozens more injured. ...Although about 80 reports of tornadoes had come in as of Sunday night, the National Weather Service's Bunting said the actual number will likely be in the 30 to 40 range...because the same tornado often gets reported multiple times. Weather service meteorologist Matt Friedlein said such weather is rare this late in the year, but that strong winds coupled with temperatures in the 60s and 70s spawned Sunday's storms.... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/18/midwest-tornadoes_n_4294412.html. David Mercer and Don Babwin, Huffington Post.
2013-11-08. Study Finds Climate Link to 'Atmospheric River' Storms. Excerpt: new NASA-led study of "atmospheric river" storms from the Pacific Ocean may help scientists better predict major winter snowfalls that hit West Coast mountains and lead to heavy spring runoff and sometimes flooding. Atmospheric rivers -- short-lived wind tunnels that carry water vapor from tropical oceans to mid-latitude land areas -- are prolific producers of rain and snow on California's Sierra Nevada mountains. ...An atmospheric river is a narrow stream of wind, about a mile high and sometimes of hurricane strength. Crossing the warm tropical Pacific in a few days, it becomes laden with water vapor. A moderate-sized atmospheric river carries as much water as the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf of Mexico in an average week. When the river comes ashore and stalls over higher terrain, the water falls as snow or rain. "Atmospheric rivers are the bridge between climate and West Coast snow," said [Bin Guan of the Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineerin]. "If scientists can predict these atmospheric patterns with reasonable lead times, we'll have a better understanding of water availability and flooding in the region." The benefit of improving flood prediction alone would be significant. A single California atmospheric-river storm in 1999 caused 15 deaths and $570 million in damage. Guan's team used data from the JPL-developed Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite, ...http://airs.jpl.nasa.gov.... http://www.nasa.gov/press/2013/november/study-finds-climate-link-to-atmospheric-river-storms/. NASA RELEASE 13-329.
2013-09-11. NASA Launches Drones from Virginia to Study Storms. Excerpt: ATLANTIC, Va. -- NASA scientists are using former military surveillance drones to help them understand more about how tropical storms intensify, which they say could ultimately save lives by improving forecast models that predict a hurricane's strength. The unmanned Global Hawk aircraft were designed to perform high-altitude, long-endurance reconnaissance and intelligence missions for the Air Force. ..."The biggest scientific question we're trying to attack is why do some hurricanes intensify very rapidly and why do others not intensify at all? ...There are two questions on which NASA scientists primarily want the drone research to focus. One is what role thunderstorms within a hurricane play in its intensification. Researchers aren't sure if the thunderstorms are a driver of storm intensity or a symptom of it. The other is what role the Saharan Air Layer plays in the tropical storm development. The Saharan Air Layer is a dry, hot, dusty layer of air from Africa. Scientists have been at odds with each other over whether it helps hurricanes strengthen or does the opposite.... http://www.weather.com/news/science/space/nasa-launches-drones-study-storms-20130911. Brock Vergakis, The Weather Channel.
2013-06-06. NASA Flights Target How Pollution, Storms and Climate Mix. Excerpt: ...NASA aircraft will take
to the skies over the southern United States this summer to investigate
how air pollution and natural emissions, which are pushed high into the
atmosphere by large storms, affect atmospheric composition and climate.
...More than 250 scientists, engineers, and flight personnel are
participating in the Studies of Emissions, Atmospheric Composition,
Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS) campaign.
....Aircraft and sensors will probe the atmosphere from top to bottom at
the critical time of year when weather systems are strong enough and
regional air pollution and natural emissions are prolific enough to pump
gases and particles high into the atmosphere. The result is potentially
global consequences for Earth's atmosphere and climate. "In summertime
across the United States, emissions from large seasonal fires,
metropolitan areas, and vegetation are moved upward by thunderstorms and
the North American Monsoon," Toon said. "When these chemicals get into
the stratosphere they can affect the whole Earth. They also may
influence how thunderstorms behave. With SEAC4RS we hope to better
understand how all these things interact." SEAC4RS will provide new
insights into the effects of the gases and tiny aerosol particles in the
atmosphere. The mission is targeting two major regional sources of
summertime emissions: intense smoke from forest fires in the U.S. West
and natural emissions of isoprene, a carbon compound, from forests in
the Southeast. Forest fire smoke can change the properties of clouds.
The particles in the smoke can reflect and absorb incoming solar energy,
potentially producing a net cooling at the ground and a warming of the
atmosphere. The addition of large amounts of chemicals, such as
isoprene, can alter the chemical balance of the atmosphere. Some of
these chemicals can damage Earth's protective ozone layer. For more
information on the mission, visit:
http://espo.nasa.gov/missions/seac4rs ....http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2013/jun/HQ_13-167_SEAC4RS_Campaign.html. NASA Release 13-167.
2012 March. Predicting and managing extreme weather events.
by Jane Lubchenco and Thomas R. Karl. Physics Today, p. 31. Earth’s climate is warming, and
destructive weather is growing more prevalent. Coping with the changes
will require collaborative science, forward-thinking policy, and an
2011 April 25. Tornado Season Intensifies, Without Clear Scientific Consensus on Why. By A.G. Sulzberger, The New York Times.
All the warning sirens echoing across the Great Plains, Midwest and
Southeast this month leave little doubt that the tornado season — which
has plowed a trail of destruction through communities from Oklahoma to
Wisconsin to Georgia — is off to an unusually busy start…Now, as the
country braces for several more days of potentially violent weather,
meteorologists say the number of April tornadoes is on track to top the
It remains unclear, partly because of the lack of historical data and
partly because of their unpredictable nature, whether they will increase
in number or strength or geographic range.
2008 Sep 15. Photos from hurricane Ike.
2008 Apr 15. Measuring a Hurricane by Sound Underwater. By HENRY FOUNTAIN, NY Times. Excerpt:
There are a couple of ways to forecast the destructive potential of a
hurricane so that people in harm's way can take adequate precautions.
Satellite images of cloud patterns can be analyzed to estimate peak wind
speeds, but the estimates are often way off the mark. Specialized
aircraft can fly into a storm to measure the winds directly, but the
flights are costly. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology propose a third way: listening to a storm underwater.
In a paper to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, Nicholas C.
Makris and a former graduate student, Joshua D. Wilson, report a strong
correlation between the intensity of sound recorded by an undersea
microphone in the mid-Atlantic and the wind power of a hurricane that
passed over it. They say that such microphones, known as hydrophones,
could be a safe and relatively inexpensive means of estimating hurricane
2007 November 5. To show how insolation is affected by latitude. From: Stephen J. Edberg
to show how insolation is affected by latitude: Take a pair of
thermometers, each taped to some cardboard, outside on a sunny day. Prop
one up so that the cardboard's plane is normal to the direction of the
Sun. Lay the other one on the ground. Give them a chance to equalize:
the propped thermometer will be much warmer than the one on the ground.
Caveats: This demonstration is much more effective on cold sunny days
than on warm sunny days. It is better done early or late in the day when
the Sun is closer to the horizon, not around noon.
You can actually do this indoors on a rainy day if you use a good
spotlight or projector, equidistant from the two thermometer bulbs. If
you have some small thermometers you can tape them to different
latitudes on a globe and try the experiment with a spotlight, projector,
or desk lamp. (Make sure you use a tungsten bulb, not fluorescent or
2007 May 29. Will Warming Lead to a Rise in Hurricanes? By CORNELIA DEAN. NY Times. Excerpt:
When people worry about the effects of global warming, they worry more
about hurricanes than anything else. In surveys, almost three-quarters
of Americans say there will be more and stronger hurricanes in a warming
world. By contrast, fewer than one-quarter worry about increased
coastal flooding. ...Researchers hope to better predict storms like
Katrina.... There is no doubt that as the world warms, seas will rise,
increasing the flood risk, simply because warmer water occupies more
space. (And if the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets melt, the rise will
be far greater.) It seems similarly logical that as the world warms,
hurricanes will be more frequent or more powerful or both. After all,
they draw their strength from warm ocean waters. But while many
scientists hold this view, there is far less consensus, in part because
of new findings on other factors that may work against stronger, more
frequent storms. "Global warming is as real as it gets," Richard A.
Anthes, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric
Research, .... But as for its link to hurricanes, Mr. Anthes said, "I
don't think it's been proved conclusively." ...One question
meteorologists and climate experts can answer quickly is an obvious one:
What happened to the hurricane season of 2006? Viewed from the
perspective of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, it was a bust (or a boon).
Not a single hurricane struck the United States. But last year a
persistent Bermuda high, sitting unusually far out in the Atlantic, and
air currents from an unexpected and quick-forming El Niño system ...
diminished the storms' potential to strike the United States. ...even
though there were only slightly fewer named storms than average (9
instead of 11), about as many became hurricanes as on average (5 instead
of 6) and, as in an ordinary year, 2 hurricanes with winds of more than
111 miles per hour, the standard for Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson
...53 percent of Americans live within 50 miles of a coast....
2006 December 11. NASA AIRCRAFT CAPTURES WINDY DETAILS IN HURRICANE'S UPS AND DOWNS. NASA Earth Observatory News. - In
2005, scientists using NASA aircraft measured the internal structure of
Hurricane Dennis, giving clues about the evolution of a hurricane's
warm inner core and other factors related to their formation.
2006 September 27. NASA LAUNCHES HURRICANE DATA PORTAL FOR SCIENTISTS, EDUCATORS, AND APPLICATION USERS - A
new hurricane web portal is designed for viewing and studying
hurricanes with a variety of measurements from satellite-based NASA
instruments. NASA Earth Observatory.
2006 September 26. NASA TECHNOLOGY CAPTURES MASSIVE HURRICANE WAVES. NASA
research is helping to increase knowledge about the behavior of
hurricane waves that pose a serious threat to mariners and coastal
communities. NASA Earth Observatory.
2006 September 19. Are humans causing stronger hurricanes?Excerpt:
a continuing controversy ... Are humans causing stronger hurricanes? A
study released on September 11, 2006 ruled out "natural causes" as the
primary reason why ocean waters have warmed where hurricanes form over
the last 100 years. Tom Wigley, a climate scientist and study co-author,
told Earth & Sky that "the changes cannot be caused by natural
fluctuations, which just leaves human factors as the dominant cause."
Wigley said those human factors include greenhouse gases from burning
2006 September. The Gathering Storm. Catalyst Magazine, Union of Concerned Scientists. By Brenda Ekwurzel. Excerpt:
By now, everyone has heard of the possible relationship between
hurricanes and global warming. What does the science really tell us and
what can we do about it? Rapid population growth in coastal regions has
placed many more people and structures in the path of storms, increasing
the potential for casualties, property damage, and financial hardship
when these storms make landfall. And as reported by the media in the
wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, global warming may be making
matters worse. Recent scientific evidence suggests a link between the
destructive power (or intensity) of hurricanes and higher ocean
temperatures driven in large part by our changing climate.
...Scientists have recently looked at potential correlations between
ocean temperatures and storm trends worldwide over the past several
decades. One study, which combined each storm's duration and maximum
wind speed, found that the destructive power of storms has increased
around 70 percent in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans over the last
30 years. Another study revealed that the percentage of hurricanes
classified as Category 4 or 5 (the most intense storms) worldwide has
increased over the same period, correlating with the concurrent rise in
sea surface temperatures in the regions where storms typically originate
In a third independent approach, researchers analyzed surface wind and
temperature records between 1958 and 2001 and confirmed the marked
increase in storm intensity around the world. Still more studies are
continuing to test the connection between storm intensity and warmer
temperatures even as insurance agencies are revising their risk analysis
for coastal regions....
2006 September. "Large human influence" found in hurricane-breeding waters, say scientists. Earth & Sky Blog.
23 June 2005. RELEASE: 05-159
RESEARCHERS STUDYING TROPICAL CYCLONES
researchers are deploying to Costa
Rica next month to investigate the
birthplace of eastern Pacific tropical
cyclones. They will be searching
for clues that could lead to a greater
understanding and better predictability
of one of the world's most significant
weather events -the hurricane...As
scientists and coastal residents
brace for another potentially challenging
hurricane season, NASA is launching
the Tropical Cloud Systems and Processes
(TCSP) mission. TCSP is a month-long
research effort primarily intended
to document "cyclogenesis,"
the birth of tropical storms, hurricanes
and related phenomena...Researchers
will monitor oceanic thunderstorms
to study why some systems develop
into tropical cyclones and some do
not. Researchers feel the data is
vital to understanding how such weather
systems evolve and travel. The data
also could support development of
a more accurate and timely warning
system to help safeguard property
and lives..."This experiment
is significant for two reasons," said
Robbie Hood, an atmospheric scientist
at the Marshall Space Flight Center,
Huntsville, Ala. She is one of three
lead scientists for the project in
Costa Rica. "We will have an
opportunity to take a closer look
at the factors contributing to the
initiation and intensification of
tropical cyclones which are still
somewhat mysterious processes for
researchers and operational forecasters.
We will also be examining what are
the best combinations of satellite
and aircraft technologies to improve
how hurricanes are monitored and
11 January 2005. NASA RELEASE:
Dust Affects Thunderstorm Behavior in Florida. Scientists
using NASA satellite data have discovered tiny
particles of dust blowing across the Atlantic
Ocean from the Sahara Desert can affect Florida
thunderstorms. Dust affects the size of the
top or "anvil" of a thunderstorm,
the strength and number of updrafts of warm
winds. It also affects the strength of convective
(heat generated) thunderstorms by influencing
the amount of rain that builds up and falls.
... The researchers found when saharan dust
is in the air, the anvils produced by Florida's
convective thunderstorms tend to be a little
smaller in area, but better organized and thicker.
This affects the amount of incoming sunlight
and warmth reaching the ground, potentially
affecting long-term climate. If occurring over
time, more sunlight and warmer temperatures
would mean a warmer climate. The researchers
also noticed the updrafts of warm moist air,
which build into thunderstorms were stronger,
and there were more updrafts produced in the
presence of the dust.... Saharan dust can act
as cloud condensation nuclei, giant cloud condensation
nuclei and ice nuclei. Van den Heever ran two
types of computer model simulations, one that
included saharan dust and another without the
desert dust. She then compared the results and
found something unusual. The increased concentrations
of cloud condensation nuclei due to the dust
decreased the amount of rainfall at the Earth's
surface. ...For more information and images
about this research on the Web, visit Looking
At Earth from NASA.
21 June 2004. NASA
RESEARCH HELPS HIGHLIGHT LIGHTNING SAFETY
AWARENESS WEEK --
NASA will mark National Lightning Safety Awareness
Week, June 20-26, through unique contributions
its lightning research makes to climate studies,
and severe storm detection and prediction.
NASA research is striving to improve our understanding
of lightning and its role in weather and climate.
14 January 2004. NASA RELEASE : 04-017. A
'Hot Tower' Above The Eye Can Make Hurricanes
Stronger -- They
are called hurricanes in the Atlantic, typhoons
in the West Pacific, and tropical cyclones
worldwide; but wherever these storms roam,
the forces that determine their severity
now are a little less mysterious. NASA scientists,
using data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring
Mission (TRMM) satellite, have found "hot
tower" clouds are associated with tropical
cyclone intensification. ... a "hot
tower" [is] a rain cloud that reaches
at least to the top of the troposphere,
the lowest layer of the atmosphere. It extends
approximately nine miles (14.5 km) high
in the tropics. These towers are called "hot" because
they rise to such altitude due to the large
amount of latent heat. ... A particularly
tall hot tower rose above Hurricane Bonnie
in August 1998, as the storm intensified
a few days before striking North Carolina...
more than $1 billion damage and three deaths....
Kelley said, "The motivation for this
new research is that it is not enough to
predict the birth of a tropical cyclone.
We also want to improve our ability to predict
the intensity of the storm and the damage
it would cause if it struck the coast."
17 December 2003. NASA
STUDIES SHOW GLOBAL WARMING IS LIKELY TO DRIVE
BIG CHANGES IN CALIFORNIA'S COASTAL WATERS -- Global
warming could have profound effects on the
intensity and seasonal timing of wind-driven
upwelling of deep ocean water along the California
coast, impacting many coastal ecosystems,
according to recent studies by researchers
at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
September 2003. Observations
of a "weekend effect" in diurnal
temperature range, Piers M. de F. Forster and
Susan Solomon , National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration Aeronomy Laboratory,
Boulder, CO 80305; and Department of Meteorology,
University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AH, United
Kingdom. Using surface
measurements of maximum and minimum temperatures
from the Global Daily Climatological Network
data set, we find evidence of a weekly cycle
in diurnal temperature range (DTR) for many
stations in the United States, Mexico, Japan,
and China....We conclude that the weekend
effect is a real short time scale and large
spatial scale geophysical phenomenon, which
is necessarily human in origin. We thus provide
strong evidence of an anthropogenic link to
DTR, an important climate indicator. Several
possible anthropogenic mechanisms are discussed;
we speculate that aerosol-cloud interactions
are the most likely cause of this weekend
effect, but we do not rule out others. PNAS
| vol. 100 | no. 20 | 11225-11230.
September 2003. Hurricane
Isabel's landfall. If
you happened to be in North Carolina, the
sight of advancing Hurricane Isabel was surely
unwelcome. From space, though, it was a thing
of beauty. High above Earth, NASA satellites
took some remarkable pictures of Hurricane
Isabel's landfall. See also: Recipe
for a Hurricane -- NASA satellites improve
hurricane forecasts using space-based observations,
data assimilation, and computer climate modeling.
June 2003. Lightning
late April 2002, a cold front pushed eastward
across the midwestern United States. Ahead
of the cold front, a powerful thunderstorm
formed over Maryland, spawning what was perhaps
the state’s worst tornado. With winds
estimated at over 260 miles per hour, the
tornado touched down and traveled a path of
destruction for 24 miles (39 kilometers),
claiming several lives and injuring more than
100 people. The thunderstorm associated with
this tornado persisted from the Appalachian
Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, causing an
estimated $120 million in damages.
October 2001. WEATHER
FORECASTERS MAY LOOK SKY-HIGH FOR ANSWERS -- These
days, weather forecasters are lucky if they
can accurately predict the weather a week
into the future. But a new study, funded in
part by NASA, says shifting wind patterns
inthe stratosphere during the winter may help
forecasters predict weather on the surface
two months ahead of time, because they have
an affect on where storms track in the northern
March 2000. Flood
in Mozambique [1.1MB PDF NASA Lithograph] Floods
are one of the most common and widespread
of all natural disasters. These images from
the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) onboard
the Landsat 7 satellite, illustrate the severity
of the floods experienced in Mozambique, Africa
in March 2000.
August 1998. Hurricane
Bonnie [1.2MB PDF NASA Lithograph] Few
things in nature can compare to the destructive
force of a hurricane. Called the greatest
storm on Earth, a hurricane is capable of
destroying coastal areas with sustained winds
in excess of 155 mph, intense rainfall and
a storm surge.
Articles from 1998–present
Archived weather maps, Unisys. Surface, satellite, and upper air maps dating back to 1997. Maps are keyed by number, examples: 0001 = Jan 2001; and 9803 = Mar 1998.
earth.nullschool.net - an interactive display of Earth atmospheric properties
Extreme Instability -- Spectacular weather photos
Hurricane Tracking charts:
Hurricane Watch: Studying A Storm from Many Angles,
NASA, offers images captured by NASA's satellites showing ocean wind
speed and sea surface height as they related to the development of
National Climatic Data Center -- Climatic Extremes and Weather Events
National Weather Service’s StormReady program -- How Much Severe Weather Occurs in My Community?
Noah National Hurricane Center - current cyclone
activity, Hurricane History, Hurricane Awareness, and storm information.
SciLinks connections to Severe
Severe Weather -- 16 multimedia resources from Teachers' Domain Earth and Space Science multimedia resources (movies and interactives).
Weather articles in the Science Teacher (NSTA)
USGS Hazards Gateway - about earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis, and volcanoes.