Do You Live in a Climate Change Hotspot?

Spaceborne Carbon Counter Map

Nearly half of all human carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by plants, and NASA is monitoring this absorption.

Carbon dioxide or CO2 emissions into our planet’s atmosphere is causing climate change — a major problem that humans need to tackle and adapt to.  It is leading to warmer atmospheric temperatures, warmer and more acidic oceans, rising sea-levels, and changing and extreme weather patterns.  Although nations across the globe have committed to reducing carbon emissions, emissions will not slow in the near future, and CO2concentrations will continue to rise.

An alarming fact is that CO2 concentrations are the highest they have been in 400,000 years, and we are on track to cross the CO2 threshold of 400 parts per million (ppm).  This threshold does not mean there is going to be a climate catastrophe, but it does signal the importance of fighting climate change and how government inaction has only lead to worsening global impacts.

Luckily for us, CO2 concentrations would be much higher if it were not for plants that absorb nearly half of all human emissions each year.  NASA is very interested in this part of the carbon system and is now monitoring and tracking the absorption of CO2 by the land and ocean.

“Some years, almost all of it stays in the atmosphere and some years almost none of it remains in the atmosphere.  So in those years it must be absorbed into the ocean and land,” said Mike Freilich, the head of NASA’s Earth Science Division.


NASA scientists have been tracking CO2 movement using models and satellites such as NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2).  “OCO-2 gathers 100,000 high quality measurements of CO2 across the globe daily,” said Annmarie Eldering, deputy project scientist of OCO-2.  The instruments used on the satellite are so sensitive that they can detect changes as small as 1 ppm over any location, allowing scientists to determine potential COhotspots.

For example, data from OCO-2 shows that there has been more CO2 over the tropical Pacific Ocean since the spring.  Scientists are unsure if this is related to our current El-Niño which is known for creating above average ocean and atmospheric temperatures, but the results are different from previously collected data.

Why is it so important to monitor and track this absorbed CO2?  Not only will it help scientists understand how the absorption of CO2 by plants may change with a changing climate, according to Lesley Ott, a NASA research who works on the carbon modeling, “The motivation of all of this is to make models better and predict how the carbon cycle is going to change over the coming years.”

The problem of climate change can no longer be ignored, and improved CO2 modeling will hopefully influence policymakers to make scientifically-informed decisions to protect our planet for generations to come.

Source: Do You Live in a Climate Change Hotspot?

Do You Live in a Climate Change Hotspot?

NOAA Global Summary lnformation – June 2015

Note: With this report and data release, the National Centers for Environmental Information is transitioning to improved versions of its global land (GHCN-M version 3.3.0) and ocean (ERSST version 4.0.0) datasets. Please note that anomalies and ranks reflect the historical record according to these updated versions. Historical months and years may differ from what was reported in previous reports. For more, please visit the associated FAQ and supplemental information.

June 2015 was warmest June on record for the globe.

Global land areas and oceans each record warm for June.

First half of 2015 also record warm.

Global highlights: June 2015

June Blended Land and Sea Surface Temperature Percentiles

June 2015 Blended Land and Sea Surface 
Temperature Percentiles
 June 2015 Blended Land & Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies in °C

  • During June, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.58°F (0.88°C) above the 20thcentury average. This was the highest for June in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set last year in 2014 by 0.22°F (0.12°C).
  • The June globally-averaged land surface temperature was 2.27°F (1.26°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for June in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2012 by 0.11°F (0.06°C).
  • The June globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.33°F (0.74°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for June in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set last year in 2014 by 0.11°F (0.06°C).
  • The average Arctic sea ice extent for June was 350,000 square miles (7.7 percent) below the 1981–2010 average and 60,000 square miles larger than the smallest sea ice extent that occurred in 2010. This was the third smallest June extent since records began in 1979, according to analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center using data from NOAA and NASA.
  • Antarctic sea ice during June was 380,000 square miles (7.2 percent) above the 1981–2010 average. This was the third largest June Antarctic sea ice extent on record and 140,000 square miles smaller than the record-large June extent of 2014.

Global highlights: Year-to-date (January–June 2015)

    • During January–June, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.53°F (0.85°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for January–June in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record of 2010 by 0.16°F (0.09°C).
    • During January–June, the globally-averaged land surface temperature was 2.52°F (1.40°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for January–June in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record of 2007 by 0.23°F (0.13°C).
    • During January–June, the globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 1.17°F (0.65°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for January–June in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record of 2010 by 0.07°F (0.04°C)

For extended analysis of global temperature and precipitation patterns, please see our full June report

Source: Global Summary lnformation – June 2015

NOAA Global Summary lnformation – June 2015

Emerging El Niño weather event is California’s biggest since 1997

As Pacific Ocean temperatures continue to warm and trade winds shift, federal scientists now say that the El Niño weather event that’s emerging could be one of the strongest on record. And that could mean significantly increased chances that storms will drench drought-ravaged California this winter, according to a report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week. Agency scientists say the conditions are lining up in a way not seen since the winter of 1997-98, when downpours filled reservoirs and sent rivers raging during the last major El Niño.

“That’s good news for California,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s climate prediction center in College Park, Md. “There are obviously no guarantees, but above-normal rainfall is becoming more likely.”

The chances are now “greater than 90 percent” that El Niño conditions that began in March will remain through this winter, according to NOAA’s monthly report on the weather phenomenon. That’s up from 85 percent last month and 50 percent four months ago.

“We are on the right path now. We want to see it continue to strengthen and build, and certainly to not weaken anytime before the new year,” said California’s state climatologist, Michael Anderson.

A warmer ocean

El Niño is a disruption in the weather patterns over the Pacific Ocean, when the ocean’s surface warms more than normal. Those warm waters release heat, changing wind directions and the jet stream. Strong El Niños, when the water is the warmest, have historically been linked to wet weather in California and South America — and to droughts in Australia and Asia.

As El Niño conditions have continued to grow this year, Peru in recent weeks declared an emergency, warning of flooding that may begin there this summer. Citigroup and the United Nations have issued warnings about possible price spikes in wheat and other food staples that would result from reduced harvests in Australia and other countries.

To be sure, California’s next rainy season won’t start in earnest for five more months.

And many of those will be hot summer months with a high fire risk because the worst drought since California became a state in 1850 has left grasslands and forests bone-dry. Scientists also caution that promising El Niños have fizzled out in the past — most recently last year.

But with each passing month, many scientists say, this year is looking more and more like 1997.

That year, an ocean area along the Equator that is considered a key indicator of El Niño trends was 1 degree hotter than normal from April to June. Currently, the water there is 1.6 degrees hotter than average — the warmest since 1997.

San Francisco received 47 inches of rain during the winter of 1997-98, twice its historic average and the most since 1862.

At the peak in the winter of 1997, the water along the Equator was 4.1 degrees warmer than average. NOAA, NASA and other world-leading scientific institutions are projecting that by November, the temperatures in that region may reach close to that — 3.6 degrees above average, the warmest since 1997.

John Lewis remembers that soaking winter of 1997-98. The owner of Commercial Gutter in Fremont, Calif., was so swamped with calls from people needing gutter repairs during the relentless downpours that he had a six-month waiting list. “It was a frenzy,” he said. “My guys were working seven days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day. I had to turn people away.”

But could one soaking winter end California’s drought?

It’s possible, if the state receives rainfall of 150 percent or more above average, filling the state’s largest reservoirs, Anderson said. In 1993, he added, heavy rains brought the 1987-92 drought to a close.

Last month’s heavy storms in Texas dumped 11 inches of rain on Houston in one night, killing more than 20 people but ending a lengthy drought.

Drought persistence

But to end California’s entrenched dry spell, the rain would probably have to start around Thanksgiving, saturating the ground to allow steady runoff into rivers and reservoirs. And then the storms would have to be cold enough to bulk up the Sierra snowpack so that the melting spring snow would continue to fill reservoirs.

Even then, the rainfall deficits of the past four years wouldn’t be completely erased, and groundwater that has been overpumped during the drought could take 10 years or more to replenish, Anderson noted. But the emergency situation now plaguing farms and cities would largely pass with full reservoirs.

So what became of last year’s El Niño predictions, which never panned out? While the water was warm, it didn’t trigger significant changes in wind direction or the jet stream, experts say. But this year those changes are already underway.

“It’s well coupled with the atmosphere. That never happened last year,” said Jan Null, a meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services. “We get our rain from the atmosphere, not from a warm ocean. The fact we are seeing the coupling is one of these checked boxes that is pointing toward a strong event.”

Source: Emerging El Niño weather event is California’s biggest since 1997

Emerging El Niño weather event is California’s biggest since 1997

6 Photos of the Destructive Typhoon That Hit China

Weather experts believe this could be the worst tropical storm to hit the nation’s coastal region in more than 60 years.

People watch the rising waves of Typhoon Chan-hom. (Photo: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

More than a million people have been evacuated from China’s east coast near Shanghai as Typhoon Chan-hom struck the region Saturday morning.

With high winds, crashing ocean waves, and several inches of rain that destroyed farming fields and soaked homes, it could be the worst typhoon to hit the area since 1949, Reuters reports.

The storm killed five people in the Philippines earlier this week, injured at least 18 people in Japan, and left 30,000 people in Okinawa without power. China reported no injuries as of Saturday evening, but the financial repercussions of the storm could prove devastating.

So, Why Should You Care?

The extent of the damage won’t be fully realized for days, but with the surging waters damaging infrastructure and farmlands, the storm has the potential to leave hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

(Photo: Reuters)

As the typhoon created large waves, one reached the shore next to a residential building. Early figures indicate that at least 94 homes have been damaged or destroyed, The New York Times reports.

(Photo: Twitter)

Winds reached up to 100 miles per hour and uprooted trees.

(Photo: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

Sea water could cause the most damage to the region, with waves reaching more than 30 feet in height, Al Jazeera reports.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Four inches of rain, plus the surging ocean water, left the low-lying coastal region flooded and without power.

(Photo: William Hong/Reuters)

An image of floating fruit shows a destroyed watermelon crop for one farmer, indicating personal financial repercussions for some and possibly food-supply problems for the region.

6 Photos of the Destructive Typhoon That Hit China