Mar 27

Coral Sea Tropical Cyclone likely to develop this weekend

PHOTO: Cyclone Debbie is expected to impact areas from Cardwell to St Lawrence. (Bureau of Meteorology)

North Queensland remains on high alert with the tropical low in the Coral Sea likely to intensify to tropical cyclone strength this weekend.

The next name on the cyclone list is #CycloneDebbie.

Bureau of Meteorology Queensland Regional Director, Bruce Gunn, said the low was located approximately 600km northeast of Cairns and Townsville, and likely reach cyclone strength as early as Saturday.

“Communities between Cape Tribulation and Proserpine are urged to prepare now for a potential crossing anytime between late Sunday and early Tuesday, but the most likely scenario is for the cyclone to make landfall between Cairns and Townsville on Monday,” said Mr Gunn.

“There is always a degree of uncertainty in forecasting cyclones, for this reason we urge the public to stay tuned for the latest official warnings from the Bureau of Meteorology and follow the advice of local emergency services.

“The intensity of the cyclone will hinge on how much time the system spends over the water. If the cyclone speeds up, it is likely remain at the lower end of the spectrum, but if it crosses on Monday or Tuesday there is the potential for it to intensify to severe tropical cyclone strength, Category 3 or higher.”

Heavy rains are likely to continue well into next week for northern and central Queensland. A Flood Watch has also been issued today for coastal catchments between Cooktown to Mackay extending inland to the eastern Gulf Rivers.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services are urging the public to review their emergency kits and discuss their emergency plans with their household and family.

Exercise caution and avoid travel when warnings are in place. Never walk, ride or drive through floodwaters.

There have been three tropical cyclones already this season, Yvette in December, Alfred in February, Blanche in March. Cyclone Caleb formed in the Indian Ocean near the Cocos Islands yesterday (23 March 2017).

The last cyclone to cross the Queensland coast was Tropical Cyclone Nathan, which crossed near Cape Flattery, north of Cooktown (20 March, 2015) as a Category 4 system.

The Bureau’s Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre in Brisbane operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with forecasters monitoring the situation and providing the latest information for emergency services, media and the community.

Feb 22

Heat Wave Breaks Records in Australia

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data from the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LPDAAC). Caption by Adam Voiland.

Heat waves are not unusual in Australia. A subtropical belt of high pressure that flows over the continent regularly delivers pulses of hot, dry air to the surface in the summer. Yet even by Australian standards, the intense heat wave of February 2017 has been remarkable.

When a high-pressure system stalled over central Australia, extreme temperatures emerged first in South Australia and Victoria and then spread to New South Wales, Queensland, and Northern Territory. With overheated bats dropping from trees and bushfires burning out of control, temperatures smashed records in many areas.

This map shows peak land surface temperatures between February 7 and 14, 2017, a period when some of the most extreme heating occurred. The map is based on data collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Note that it depicts land surface temperatures, not air temperatures. Land surface temperatures reflect how hot the surface of the Earth would feel to the touch in a particular location. They can sometimes be significantly hotter or cooler than air temperatures. (To learn more about LSTs and air temperatures, read: Where is the Hottest Place on Earth?)

On February 12, 2017, air temperatures rose to 46.6°C (115.9°F) in the coastal city of Port Macquarie, New South Wales, breaking the city’s all-time record by 3.3 degrees Celsius (5.9 degrees Fahrenheit). Two days earlier, the average maximum temperature across all of New South Wales hit a record-setting 42.4°C (108.3°F)—a record that was broken the next day when it rose to 44.0°C (111.2°F).

In some places, the duration of the heatwave has been noteworthy. Mungindi, a town on the border of Queensland and New South Wales, endured 52 days in a row when maximum temperatures exceeded 35°C (95°F)—a record for New South Wales.

Many scientists see exceptional heat waves like this as part of a broader trend. For instance, one study published by the Climate Council of Australia concluded that heatwaves—defined as at least three days of unusually high temperatures—grew significantly longer, more intense, and frequent between 1971 and 2008.

Feb 20

Tropical Cyclone Alfred remains slow moving along the Gulf of Carpentaria coast

The tropical low in the Gulf of Carpentaria intensified to Category 1 strength this morning. Cyclone Alfred is forecast to move slowly south-southeast, and weaken into a tropical low again tomorrow (Tuesday).

Gales with gusts to 110km/h are occurring at Centre Island, and expected to affect coastal and island communities between Port McArthur and Mornington Island later today as the cyclone edges closer to the coast.

Heavy rain which may lead to flooding is occurring over the eastern Carpentaria District (NT) and Gulf Country District (Qld). Showers and thunderstorms with isolated heavy falls are possible over areas further inland.

Abnormally high tides are expected for the southern Gulf of Carpentaria coast over the next few days, but are not likely to exceed the highest tide of the year. Large waves may produce minor flooding along low-lying coastal areas.

Flood Watches have been issued for the Queensland Gulf Rivers and Northern Territory Carpentaria Coastal Rivers.

Catchments at risk include Queensland’s Nicholson, Leichhardt, Flinders, Norman and Gilbert rivers and the Northern Territory’s Roper and McArthur River systems.

Many catchments of the Carpentaria Coastal Rivers are saturated from monsoonal conditions over the past two weeks and are responding strongly to further rainfall. Road conditions have been affected in many areas and some roads remain impassable. Some communities may remain isolated until conditions improve.

Nov 25

ATLANTIC OCEAN * Full Update* NASA Sees Hurricane Otto’s Landfall and Exit from Nicaragua

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Hurricane Otto made landfall in southern Nicaragua on Thursday, Nov. 24 with maximum sustained winds near 110 mph (175 kph) as a strong Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. A NASA animation of NOAA’s GOES satellite imagery captured the movement and landfall of this late-season storm.

At 1 p.m. EST on Nov. 24 the eye of dangerous hurricane Otto made landfall on the southern Nicaraguan coast near the town of San Juan De Nicaragu, which is about 70 miles (110 km) south of Bluefields, Nicaragua.

An animation of visible and infrared imagery from NOAA’s GOES-East satellite over the period of Nov. 22 to Nov. 25 showed Hurricane Otto moving through the southwestern Caribbean Sea and make landfall in southern Nicaragua on Nov. 24. The GOES series of satellites are managed by NOAA, and the NASA/NOAA GOES Project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland uses that data to create images and animations.

On Nov. 25 at 7 a.m. EST (1200 UTC) Otto’s center had exited Nicaragua and moved into the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that all warnings and watches have been discontinued.

The center of Tropical Storm Otto was located near latitude 10.5 North and longitude 87.6 West. That puts the center of Otto about 115 miles (190 km) west-southwest of Santa Elena, Costa Rica. Otto was moving toward the west near 14 mph (22 kph). NHC expects a westward motion on Saturday, Nov. 26. Maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph (95 kph) with higher gusts. Little change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours.

An infrared image from NOAA’s GOES-West satellite on Nov. 25 at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 UTC) showed Tropical Storm Otto in the Eastern Pacific Ocean

For updated forecasts visit the NHC website:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

Nov 22

Tropical Storm Otto kills four in Panama

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At least four people have died in Panama in severe weather caused by the approach of Tropical Storm Otto, officials say. Two victims died in a mudslide, a girl drowned in a river and a boy died when a tree fell on the car taking him to school. His mother, driving, survived.

The Panamanian education minister has suspended classes until Thursday.

Tropical Storm Otto is stationary as of late Tuesday morning, centered about 330 miles (530 km) east-southeast of Bluefields, Nicaragua. A westward drift is expected to begin later today, followed by a faster westward motion on Wednesday. On the forecast track, Otto should be approaching the coasts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica on Thursday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 70 mph (110 km/h) with higher gusts. Otto is expected to become a hurricane later today or tonight, with additional strengthening forecast through Thursday.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect from the Costa Rica/Panama border to south of Bluefields, aTropical Storm Warning is in effect from Nargana to Colon, a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for San Andresa and from west of Colon to the Costa Rica/Panama border.

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Tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area today and tonight. Tropical storm conditions are possible within the tropical storm watch area on Wednesday or Wednesday night. Hurricane conditions are possible within the hurricane watch area on Thursday.

Outer rain bands from Otto are expected to produce rainfall accumulations of 3 to 6 inches over San Andres and Providencia islands, and the higher terrain of central and western Panama and southern Costa Rica through Wednesday. Total rainfall of 6 to 12 inches, with isolated amounts of 15 to 20 inches, can be expected across northern Costa Rica and southern Nicaragua through Thursday.

Get the latest on Otto by going directly to the NHC website at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/#OTTO

Oct 31

2016: Another low year for declining Arctic sea ice -Met Office

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Arctic sea ice extent for September 2016 was 4.72 million square kilometers (1.82 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1981 to 2010 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

Measurements of the extent of summer Arctic sea ice reveal that 2016 has been the joint second lowest year on record.

Every September sea ice in the Arctic reaches a minimum extent after retreating during the northern hemisphere summer. This September the latest figures reveal that the minimum extent is short of an absolute record, but adds to the series that the last 10 years have witnessed the lowest extent of summer sea ice in the Arctic ever recorded.

The extent of summer Arctic sea ice has decreased by over 13% per decade since satellite records began in 1979, relative to the 1981-2010 average of 6.38 million square km.

This year’s figure of 4.14 million square km, released by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is the joint-second lowest on record since satellite monitoring began in 1979, virtually identical to the 4.15 million square km recorded in 2007. The lowest extent of summer Arctic sea ice, since 1979, was recorded in 2012, with a figure of 3.39 million square km.

Dr Ed Blockley leads the Met Office Polar Climate Group. Commenting on today’s figures he said: “It is highly noteworthy that the 10 years with the lowest extent of Arctic sea ice have all been within the last 10 years. Despite a record low winter ice extent in March, this year’s figure isn’t an absolute record. But this shouldn’t detract from the fact there has been a substantial decline in the extent of Arctic sea ice over the last few decades.

“The current rate of loss of Arctic summer sea ice of 13% per decade is equivalent to an annual loss greater than the size of Scotland.”

Sea ice is an important component of the climate system because it regulates the transfer of heat and energy between the atmosphere and the ocean.

Ed Blockley added: “Being whiter than the sea surface, particularly so when covered by snow, sea ice reflects more of the Sun’s rays back into space than does the surrounding ocean. It therefore plays a key role in regulating the amount of the Sun’s energy absorbed by the Earth.

“There is actually a positive feedback system: less ice means more of the Sun’s energy is absorbed which in turn further reduces the extent of ice through melting.”

Oct 11

Tropical Cyclone season to be more active for NW Australia

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Northwest Australia can expect the tropical cyclone season to be more active than last season according to the Bureau of Meteorology Tropical Cyclone Seasonal Outlook released today.

Acting Regional Director for Western Australia, Mr Grahame Reader, said it is important that residents are not complacent ahead of the start of the season on 1 November.

“Over the past 5 years the number of significant cyclone and flood impacts has been well below average, and the 2015-16 season was a very quiet one, with only Tropical Cyclone Stan impacting the WA coast at the end of January 2016.” he said.

According to the outlook released today, Mr Reader said that climate models are indicating an average to above average number of tropical cyclones this season, but he cautioned that the number of tropical cyclones is not a good indicator of the threat to communities.

“If just one cyclone impacts a community with destructive winds or flooding, then that will be a bad season for that community”. The tropical cyclone seasons runs from 1 November to 30 April.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Country Assistant Commissioner Graham Swift is urging people in the northwest to be ready, even if they think they’re not at risk.

“Just because you haven’t been impacted by a devastating cyclone previously, doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen to you this year – all it takes is one cyclone to change your life” Assistant Commissioner Swift said.

Communities in the State’s north remain at serious risk of the devastation of cyclones and need to prepare now to keep their homes and loved ones safe.

Keeping safe is as simple as securing outdoor items like boats or trailers, preparing an emergency kit and taking heed of the community warnings.

Summary of the Tropical Cyclone Seasonal Outlook for Western Australia:

  • A 63% chance of an above average number of tropical cyclones in waters off the northwest coast (average number is five).
  • Likelihood of around two coastal impacts.
  • Significant risk of at least one severe tropical cyclone coastal impact during the season.

More information:

Aug 17

BBC Weather Contract Awarded to MeteoGroup

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Richard Sadler, Chairman of the Board, MeteoGroup

The BBC has awarded the contract for the provision of its weather services to MeteoGroup from Spring 2017 following a regulated procurement process. MeteoGroup believes it will be a close cultural fit and natural partner of the BBC, sharing its values and vision for the provision of weather data and graphics.

MeteoGroup will provide the highest quality forecasting and state-of-the art graphics solutions for weather services on all BBC platforms, TV, radio, web and mobile, worldwide.

MeteoGroup is a world-leading commercial weather company, headquartered in the UK it has offices in 16 countries employing 450 staff. Quality is at the heart of all its operations and the success of the company internationally has been based on its ability to deliver demonstrably better weather forecasts and solutions.

Founded in 1986, MeteoGroup has thirty years’ experience of delivering weather solutions to the media and other weather-critical markets worldwide. Here in the UK, MeteoGroup has more customers than any other commercial weather company, including national broadcasters, regional and national press, energy, offshore and shipping companies. The majority of the UK’s roads network also rely on MeteoGroups’ winter forecast services.

Richard Sadler, MeteoGroup Chairman commented “MeteoGroup is honoured to have been chosen to partner with the worlds’ leading broadcaster. The BBC is dedicated to offering the best possible weather service to its’ audience and it has been a demanding selection process. I am delighted that MeteoGroup has emerged from this process as the successful bidder based on rigorous award criteria, including our forecasting and the quality of our visuals.”

Visit the BBC blog here.

About MeteoGroup:

MeteoGroup is one of the world’s leading full-service B2B weather solutions businesses, operating across all sectors where weather impacts decision making. We provide innovative tools and support which assist our customers to communicate weather to the public or to make critical business decisions creating value, saving costs, minimising risk and managing environmental impact. Our team of expert and experienced meteorologists is available 24/7 to deliver the highest quality analysis and advice. With over 450 employees operating in 16 countries across the world, MeteoGroup provides local services to a global audience.

In addition to the weather solutions we provide to corporate, industrial and media customers, MeteoGroup is also the company behind the best-selling mobile apps WeatherPro and MeteoEarth and numerous weather websites.

MeteoGroup is backed by General Atlantic, one of the largest private investments firms in the world whose focus is building industry leaders in high growth sectors.

Aug 15

NOAA: Atlantic hurricane season still expected to be strongest since 2012

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Forecasters now expect 70-percent chance of 12–17 named storms

In its updated 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, NOAA calls for a higher likelihood of a near-normal or above-normal season, and decreases the chance of a below-normal season to only 15 percent, from the initial outlook issued in May. The season is still expected to be the most active since 2012.

Forecasters now expect a 70-percent chance of 12–17 named storms, of which 5–8 are expected to become hurricanes, including 2–4 major hurricanes. Theinitial outlook called for 10–16 named storms, 4–8 hurricanes, and 1–4 major hurricanes. The seasonal averages are 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

“We’ve raised the numbers because some conditions now in place are indicative of a more active hurricane season, such as El Niño ending, weaker vertical wind shear and weaker trade winds over the central tropical Atlantic, and a stronger west African monsoon,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “However, less conducive ocean temperature patterns in both the Atlantic and eastern subtropical North Pacific, combined with stronger wind shear and sinking motion in the atmosphere over the Caribbean Sea, are expected to prevent the season from becoming extremely active.”

“Given these competing conditions, La Niña, if it develops, will most likely be weak and have little impact on the hurricane season,” added Bell. NOAA announced that La Niña is slightly favored to develop during the hurricane season.

To date, there have been five named storms, including two hurricanes (Alex and Earl). Four made landfall: Bonnie (in South Carolina), Colin (in western Florida), Danielle (in eastern Mexico), and Earl (in Belize and Mexico).

As we move into the peak of hurricane season, when hurricanes are most frequent and often at their strongest, NOAA urges coastal residents to make sure they have their hurricane preparedness plans in place and to monitor the latest forecasts. Learn how NOAA forecasts hurricanes.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Twitter,Facebook, Instagram and our other social media channels.

Jul 26

Polar ice reveals new secrets of Earth’s climate

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A team of scientists have used air bubbles in polar ice from pre-industrial times to measure the sensitivity of the Earth’s land biosphere to changes in temperature.

The paper published today in Nature Geoscience has verified and quantified the relationship for the first time and shown how it impacts the cycles of carbon between land, ocean and the atmosphere.

About half of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by human activities since 1850 has been taken out of the atmosphere by the land biosphere and the ocean.

How these sinks will behave in the future has been a significant source of uncertainty in climate projections.

The paper led by Dr Mauro Rubino of CSIRO and the Seconda Universita di Napoli has revealed that the Earth’s land biosphere takes up less carbon in a warmer climate.

“Until now it has only been assumed that as the Earth’s surface warms the ability of land-based plants to store carbon is reduced,” paper co-author and CSIRO senior scientist Dr David Etheridge said.

“In this study we were able to quantify the relationship.

“Reduced storage of carbon by the biosphere leads to higher atmospheric CO2.

“This increases the Earth’s surface temperature, which leads to even less carbon stored by the biosphere, causing a positive feedback,” Dr Etheridge said.

The research team measured air trapped in ice core samples from the Australian Antarctic Program’s unique Law Dome site where past atmospheric composition is preserved in fine detail, together with ice cores from the British Antarctic Survey.

“The very high detail preserved in Law Dome ice cores has been a key to unlocking this information,” Dr Mark Curran, co-author from the Australian Antarctic Division said.

The study focused on CO2 changes preserved in ice before, during, and after a naturally-cool period known as the Little Ice Age (1500 to 1750 AD).

This period is well suited to focus specifically on the relationship between CO2 and temperature because it occurred just before the growth of industry and agriculture affected CO2 concentrations and the deposition of pollutants and nutrients.

“Changes in the carbon-13 isotope ratio, which is a signature of carbon from land plants, show that the CO2 changes during the Little Ice Age originated from the land biosphere,” Dr Etheridge said.

Previously published measurements of another natural ice-based tracer of the carbon cycle, a gas called carbonyl sulfide (COS), were used to rule out the possibility that early land-use changes could have contributed to the CO2 change seen through the study period.

This confirmed that the CO2 changes can be related to variations in land surface temperature, which are known from paleoclimate proxies such as tree rings.

The study shows that for every degree celsius of global temperature rise, the equivalent of 20 parts per million less CO2 is stored by the land biosphere.

“How plants and soils respond to warming is one of the big unknowns in climate projections so it’s great for modellers to have some independent numbers to compare against rather than just comparing models with each other,” paper co-author Dr Peter Rayner from the University of Melbourne said.

Dr Etheridge explains that this result is relevant to coming decades, because it shows how the biosphere responds to temperature changes that are comparable in magnitude and duration to the likely future warming.

Previous ecosystem carbon cycle and climate studies have had limited geographical extent and duration.

“This finding, and feedback quantification, will need to be taken into account for models of the Earth system to project future climates under various scenarios of human greenhouse gas emissions, such as the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS),” Dr Etheridge said.

The paper is a result of a collaboration between CSIRO, the Seconda Universita di Napoli, University of Melbourne, British Antarctic Survey, University of East Anglia, Australian Antarctic Division, University of Tasmania and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.