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The melt of several of Antarctica's largest and fastest-moving glaciers looks to be unstoppable, as warm water eats away at them from below, according to two news studies.
(Study 1 - Study 2)

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From NASA

A NASA led team of scientists has been studying the melting Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica. Their research and findings are shown here in different multimedia formats.


From NOAA

The April numbers are in. The average U.S. temperature was close to normal for the month, while precipitation was above normal overall - even though the West remains dry.

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Tweetable Fact

Take a look at tornado season extremes from high to low. How is 2014 tracking? http://bit.ly/1goPz4P #climatematters

Well, here's why they call it tornado alley - a state-by-state breakdown on avg number of tornadoes per year. http://bit.ly/1orSHPq

The probability of a tornado touchdown somewhere in the US jumps to nearly 80% in May. http://bit.ly/REFTau


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Story Highlights

  • For the third year in a row, tornado season has gotten off to a slow start. (A big contrast to the active 2011 season.)

  • So far, scientists haven't pinned down a cause-and-effect relationship between the wide swings in tornado activity and climate change.

  • What they do know is that tornado activity typically ramps up as we move into the spring and summer months. So this week we take a look at tornado climatology.



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WITH a title - WITHOUT a title


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For the third year in a row, tornado season has gotten off to a slow start, as indicated in the graphic above. That's a big contrast to the active 2011 season - the second highest on record with 1,691 twisters reported, including a single outbreak that killed 316 people.

These wide swings in tornado activity in such a short time naturally have meteorologists and climate scientists wondering if climate change could be playing a role. After all, we’re altering the atmosphere by pumping out heat-trapping greenhouse gases, so it makes sense that storms of all kinds are being affected. But so far, nobody has pinned down a cause-and-effect relationship.

Some research has shown that severe thunderstorms are likely to increase as the U.S. warms, at least in the eastern half of the U.S., along with a “possible increase in the number of days supportive of tornadic storms.” But other research shows that wind shear may decrease overall, which would weaken the atmosphere’s ability to form tornadoes.

The truth, though, is that the link between climate change and tornadoes is still murky. Given the awful destructive power of these storms, however, it’s a question climate scientists and research meteorologists are working hard to answer. What we do know, is that tornado activity typically ramps up as we move into the spring and summer months. So this week we take a look at tornado climatology.

The second graphic above takes you through the calendar year, showing the probability of there being a tornado on any given day. Remember that this is a national look at tornado "season", your specific region's seasonality may vary. The third graphic gets more local, showing the current 10-year average tornado count for your state. It clearly shows the high tornado areas, but also shows that no state is exempt from the powerful storms.

Climatologies of tornado probabilities were provided by the NOAA Storm Prediction Center (SPC). Data are maintained through a joint effort of the NOAA, SPC and the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory.



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