ALERT: NAVIGATING
THE IPCC

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release their report on September 27.

To prepare our meteorologists, Climate Central is creating "Navigating the IPCC," a collection of tools to help you understand and communicate the report findings, including new graphics, social media interactives, and video and accompanying script (for you to track and localize the story).

We are also going to host a webinar during the week leading up to the report's release. Stay tuned for more details!



Climate Research

A new study used computer models to look at the effects that increasing amounts of greenhouse gases have on large-scale atmospheric weather patterns. The researchers found that blocking patterns like the one that steered Hurricane Sandy onshore may be less likely to occur in the future.

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This new study finds that global warming is connected with a poleward spread of crop pests and pathogens at an average rate of 1.7 miles per year - something that could affect our food supply.


This Week in Climate News

Greenland "Mega Canyon" Sends Water to the Sea

Gripping Time-Lapse of Destructive Yosemite Wildfire

Carbon Storage Studies Grapple with Politics and Geology


From NASA

A new study by a team of NASA-led scientists takes a look at soot's role in retreating European alpine glaciers during the 1860s - a period often thought of as the end of the Little Ice Age.


From NOAA

As we enter the peak of hurricane season, this NOAA tool that let's you analyze historical hurricane tracks may be useful.


Tweetable Fact

Any guesses for when the Atlantic hurricane season peaks? http://bit.ly/17PdVPB

Did you know?...The peak of hurricane & tropical storm activity doesn’t usually come until Sept. 10. http://bit.ly/17PdVPB



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Story Highlights

  • Three reasons why this year's Atlantic hurricane season has been quiet thus far: 1) dry, dusty air blowing off Africa, 2) Madden-Julian Oscillation and 3) stronger than average westerly winds.

  • The peak of hurricane & tropical storm activity doesn’t usually come until Sept. 10. And, on average, there tend to be significantly more storms after the peak than before it.

  • We look at how rising greenhouse gas emissions are affecting hurricanes.

  • A special section of hurricane facts for Virginia meteorologists.


Click below for a high-resolution version
WITH a title - WITHOUT a title

At the beginning of August, NOAA reaffirmed its prediction that we’d have a “very active” hurricane season this year. But the season began June 1 and we are already into September without a single hurricane. If you go back to 1950, when hurricanes started getting names, there have been only three times that the first hurricane of the season waited until September to form - 2002, 2001, and 1984. So what's up?

One thing that’s up is that based on historical trends, the peak of hurricane and tropical storm activity doesn’t usually come until Sept. 10. And, on average, there tend to be significantly more storms after the peak than before it. Sandy, the second most damaging storm ever to hit the U.S., struck at the end of October.

Still, the season has been awfully quiet—for a few different reasons. One, rounds of dry, dusty air blowing off Africa have inhibited any tropical development. Two, the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) has been in an unfavorable phase to support convection over the open Atlantic. Three, stronger than average westerly winds have sheared tropical waves apart. Short-term weather trends can do that, but they can easily swing over to more favorable conditions for storm formation. The National Hurricane Center warns people who live where hurricanes strike not to relax yet.

Climate scientists, meanwhile, take a longer view: how will hurricane numbers and intensity change as the greenhouse gas emissions continue to warm the planet? The answer: not sure yet.

Since sea surface temperatures have been rising, and the warm ocean is the energy source for hurricanes, you’d think it's guaranteed that hurricanes would get more frequent and powerful as the century progresses. That’s what climate scientists thought at first too, as recently as the mid-2000’s. But recent research says it’s more complicated than that.

Warm water is important for hurricane formation, but wind shear is another factor— and some research shows that wind shear may increase in a warming world. So in recent years, climatologists began to think we’d have fewer Atlantic hurricanes on average, but that the ones that did manage to form would be stronger. Just a couple of months ago, however, even newer research has suggested there will be more and stronger hurricanes on the way.

None of this means the scientists can’t make up their minds. It means that the research is still in progress: the more scientists learn, the more confidence they have in their projections.

But whether or not storms get more or less frequent, or get stronger or weaker, there is one thing that we do know. Between rising sea levels and coastal population growth, whenever hurricanes do make landfall, the damages they inflict will likely be greater.


ATTENTION VIRGINIA METEOROLOGISTS:

  • A total of 12 hurricanes have impacted Virginia for the period of 1851-2012 according to the National Hurricane Center. The most costly of these was Hurricane Isabel in 2003, which caused $1.85 billion in damages.

  • In all, 108 tropical systems have passed over Virginia or within 10 nautical miles of Virginia's coast from 1851 to 2011 according to the NOAA Coastal Service Center.

  • In 1969, the remnants of Hurricane Camille dropped 27 inches of rain in Nelson County, the highest tropical storm total ever recorded in the state or the Mid-Atlantic in general.

  • The remains of a tropical storm dropped 10-15 inches of rain the Potomac watershed in October 1942. That caused the river to crest to its second highest recorded flood at Great Falls.

In other Virginia climate news:

VIRGINIA OFFSHORE WIND AUCTION: At 10:30 a.m. today, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held an auction of nearly 13,000 acres off the coast of Virginia for commercial wind development, which ended with a winning bid of $1.1 million. According to Interior, that's enough space to install 2 gigawatts of capacity. The agency's first offshore lease sale, which took place last month for areas off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, brought in $3.8 million.




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