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.

Jul 24

EASTERN & CENTRAL PACIFIC *Full Update* Watching 3 Pacific Tropical Cyclones: Darby, Frank and Georgette

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Tropical Storm Darby has generated Tropical Storm Warnings in Hawaii today, while Tropical Storm Frank is generating ocean swells along the coast of Baja California. Meanwhile Hurricane Georgette is over open waters.

NOAA’s GOES-West satellite captured infrared imagery of all three storms on Sunday, July 24, 2016 at 1200 UTC (8 a.m. EDT). Those images were put together at NASA/NOAA GOES Project office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greebelt, Maryland. NOAA manages the GOES satellites and NASA/NOAA GOES Project uses the data to create images and animations.

Darby Triggers Hawaii Warnings
Today, July 24, 2016, a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for all islands in the state of Hawaii, except the Big Island. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument…from Nihoa Island to French Frigate Shoals.

At 500 AM HST (1500 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Darby was located near latitude 19.8 North, longitude 157.3 West. Darby is moving toward the west-northwest near 9 mph (15 km/h) and this general motion is expected to continue over the next 48 hours. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph (65 km/h) with higher gusts. Little change in strength is forecast through Monday, with slow weakening Monday night.

What Hawaii Can Expect from Darby
NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center said today that tropical Storm force winds are expected over parts of Maui County and Oahu through tonight, and over Kauai late tonight and Monday. Swells generated by Darby are impacting the Hawaiian Islands, and will continue through tonight before diminishing on Monday. Storm total rainfall of 6 to 10 inches, with isolated amounts of up to 15 inches. These rains could produce life-threatening flash floods and landslides.

Tropical Storm Frank Holding Steady, But Causing Swells in Baja California
At 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC) on Sunday, July 24, 2016, the center of Tropical Storm Frank was located near latitude 20.3 North, longitude 112.4 West. Frank is moving toward the west-northwest near 7 mph (11 kph). A generally west-northwestward motion is expected for the next day or so, followed by a turn toward the west. Maximum sustained winds remain near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher gusts. Some slow weakening is forecast to begin late Monday.

Swells associated with Frank are affecting the coasts of the southern Baja California peninsula and the state of Sinaloa. These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip currents.

Hurricane Georgette Strengthening
At 800 AM PDT (1500 UTC), the center of Hurricane Georgette was located near latitude 15.1 North, longitude 124.6 West. That’s about 1,100 miles (1,770km) west-southwest of the southern tip of baja California, Mexico.

Georgette is moving toward the west-northwest near 10 mph (17 km/h), and this motion is expected to continue today. A turn toward the northwest and a decrease in forward speed is forecast tonight. Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 85 mph (140 km/h) with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening is possible today, with slow weakening forecast to begin on Monday.

Jul 22

A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for the Big Island of Hawaii

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A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for the Big Island of Hawaii. A Tropical Storm Watch continues for Maui County, including the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe. Tropical-storm-force winds are expected over the Big Island and are possible over portions of Maui county on Saturday. Tropical Storm Darby is centered about 460 miles (740 km) east of Hilo. Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph (100 km/h). Little change in strength through Saturday evening is expected.

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Swells generated by Darby are expected to impact the Hawaiian Islands over the next couple of days, possibly becoming damaging along some coastlines Friday and Saturday. Heavy rains are expected to reach the Big Island and portions of Maui county late Friday, potentially impacting the remainder of the state Saturday. These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods as well as rock and mud slides.

Get the latest on this tropical storm by visiting the website of NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) at

http://www.prh.noaa.gov/cphc/tcpages/?storm=Darby

Mar 23

Met Office involved in research to revolutionise pollen forecasting

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A team of researchers has been awarded a three-year grant by the National Environment Research Council (NERC) to improve pollen forecasts

A research team from the Met Office and the Universities of Bangor, Aberystwyth, Exeterand Worcester is giving hope to thousands of people in the UK who suffer from spring and summer allergies. The team of researchers has been awarded a three-year grant worth £1.2m by the National Environmental Research Council (NERC) to improve pollen forecasts using molecular genetics. It is envisaged that the new research will give more precise information to allergy sufferers about when and which species of grass pollens will affect them.

There is currently no easy way of distinguishing between the 150 species of grass, however understanding which species of grass pollens are in the air in high quantities at a particular time will allow people with hay fever and asthma to better manage their allergies and medication.

The team are aiming to revolutionise pollen forecasts by using DNA sequencing and the UK plant database at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

Dr Rachel McInnes, Senior Climate Impacts Scientist at the Met Office Hadley Centre said: “Pollen from different grass species cannot be distinguished with current pollen monitoring techniques using optical microscopes. This new approach will extract DNA from pollen grains captured by our observing sites, and read the unique DNA ‘barcode’ to identify the individual species of grass. We can then study which species of grass are linked to the most severe health impacts to allergy sufferers, for example asthma attacks.”

There are around 30 different types of pollen that cause hay fever and it is possible to be allergic to more than one type. Most people with hay fever are allergic to grass pollen, which is most common in late spring and early summer. The Met Office manages the only pollen count monitoring network in the UK and uses the information, weather data and expertise from organisations such as the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit and PollenUK to produce forecasts that help support allergy and hay fever sufferers through the most difficult time of the year.

Current pollen forecasts can be found on the Met Office website from 23 March 2016 until the autumn.

Mar 09

Copernicus ECMWF: Global Temperature Reaches New Height in February

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Surface air temperature anomaly for February 2016 relative to the February average for the period 1981-2010. Source: ERA-Interim.

Analysis by Copernicus ECMWF shows that the global temperature anomaly in February was by some margin the highest monthly value ever recorded. Temperatures ranged from 5 to 15 °C above average over significant parts of Europe, Russia and the Arctic.

Exceptional regional temperatures
Temperatures for February 2016 were:

  • more than 5 °C above the 1981-2010 average for the month over a region stretching from Finland to Greece and extending eastwards to western Siberia, Kazakhstan and the northern Middle East;
  • more than 10 °C above average over the northern Barents Sea and north-western Russia;
  • more than 5 °C above average also over much of the Arctic Ocean, for which the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reports a record low February sea-ice extent in 2016, and over parts of Alaska and western Canada.

A period of extreme global warmth
February 2016 was the most exceptional month yet in a spell of exceptional months. Globally, the average temperature for the month was:

  • close to 0.9 °C above the February average for 1981-2010;
  • almost 0.5 °C higher than the previous highest February value, which was reached in both 2010 and 2015.

Each of the five months from October 2015 has been more extreme in terms of global warmth than any previous month since records began. October 2015 was the first month in which the global-mean temperature anomaly exceeded 0.6 °C, and January 2016 was the first month in which the anomaly exceeded 0.7 °C.

The twelve months ending February 2016 were the warmest 12 months on record, with a global temperature 0.50 °C above the 1981-2010 average. The corresponding temperature for the twelve months of 2015, the warmest calendar year on record, was 0.44 °C.

For a more detailed analysis and maps

Feb 28

Veðurstofa Íslands: The weather in Iceland 2015

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Veðurstofa Íslands

The weather in 2015 was considered unfavourable, except the autumn. The winter was dominated by a series of heavy windstorms, often with snow and rain. Traffic was often interrupted and there was considerable wind damage. The heaviest storm hit on 14 March. In late April, cold and northerly winds set in and persisted until the end of August, often with heavy precipitation in the Northeast and East, but in the Southwest the weather was slightly more favourable. The autumn (September to November) was the most favourable part of the year, until the end of November when there was an unusually heavy snowfall in the Southwest. The weather in December was stormy.

The year 2015 was the coldest in Iceland since 2000, but this period has generally been abnormally warm so the average temperature was close to the 1961-1990 mean. In most parts of the country the precipitation was well above normal.

Temperature

The average temperature in Reykjavík was 4.5°C, 0.2°C above the 1961-1990 mean. This is the 20th consecutive year above this mean in Reykjavík. But, it was also the coldest since 2000. In Stykkishólmur the average temperature was 4.1°C, 0.6 above the mean, and 3.8°C in Akureyri, also 0.6°C above the mean. In Vestmannaeyjar the mean was 4.8°C, equal to the 1961-1990 mean. In the country as a whole the temperature was 0.5°C above the 1961-1990 mean, but -0.6°C below the mean of the last ten years (2005-2014).

September was the warmest month of the year in about 30 percent of the country. This is unusual, the last time it occurred on this scale was in 1958.

The annual mean was highest in Surtsey, off the Southern coast, 5.8°C, but lowest at Þverfjall (753 m a.s.l) in the Northwest, -2.2°C. Inhabited areas had the lowest annual temperature at Svartárkot, 0.8°C.

The positive deviation from the 1961-1990 mean was largest in Grímsey off the north coast, but smallest at Vestmannaeyjar, off the south coast. The temperature difference between these two stations was unusually small compared to the long term.

A short overview of the individual months

January

Even though the temperature was above the mean in 1961-1990, January was cold compared to the last ten years. Precipitation was heavy almost all of the country, but not close to records. The weather was changeable.

February

February was rather cold, at least compared to the last years. The precipitation was above normal in most parts of the country. The weather was very changeable and often violent with blizzards and traffic disruptions; and during a short warm spell there were flood damages.

March

March was also very windy and the precipitation was heavy in the South and West. The weather was better in the North and East. The temperature was well above the mean of 1961-1990, but below the mean of the last ten years in the South and West. The weather was often bad, with high winds and snowstorms. Extensive wind damages occurred, especially during a very violent windstorm on the 14th.

April and May

The weather was mainly favourable for the first three weeks of April but then became unusually cold for the season. This cold and unfavourable weather lasted the whole of May over all of the country and May was the coldest for more than three decades.

June and July

June was also cold but July colder still, except in a small area in the Southwest where it was dry and sunny in the prevailing north-easterly offshore wind.

August

August was cold and wet in the northeast but somewhat more favourable elsewhere. The precipitation exceeded earlier monthly totals at a few stations. There were flood damages in the north in the heavy precipitation.

September, October and November

September, October and November were the most favourable months of the year. It was rather warm, especially in September which became the warmest month of the year at many stations in the North and East.

December

December was a difficult month. There was unusually much snow in the Southwest in the first week of the month and two violent windstorms hit the country. The first, on the 7th and 8th, caused much damage in many parts of the country, the most densely populated areas in the Southwest were mainly spared, though. The second storm, on the 30th, caused both wind- and coastal damage in the East and the pressure dropped down to its lowest value in Iceland since 1989.

Document for the year

This article, The weather in Iceland  2015, can be read here in Pdf (0.3 Mb)