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September 2015
September 2015

California's long-term lack of rain isn’t what keeps engineers, economists, and state water planners awake at night.
<p>"Gray swan" hurricanes — storms with impacts more extreme than history alone would predict — could ravage cities in Florida, Australia and the Persian Gulf, researchers say.</p>
The remnants of Erika along with other tropical moisture caused flooding in Charleston, South Carolina. Florida expected to see more rain.
Tropical Depression 14-E developed several hundred miles southwest of Mexico on Monday and is expected to strengthen as it moves northward through the...
Photo by Mayur Gala Summer’s most glorious days lie in the weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day (at least here in the United States). Technically, summer lingers until September 23, but we all know once those Labor Day barbecues wane, it’s time to pack up the beach umbrellas and head back to regular life. But wait! Does it seem like you’ve squeezed in a little more barbecuing this year? You’re not imagining things. Time-dilated summer is real. It’s a trick of the calendar; this year, Memorial Day—the last Monday in May—fell on its earliest date, and Labor Day—the first Monday in September—will be on its latest date. The combination of the two means summer this year is 15 weeks instead of the usual 14. The last extend-o summer was 2009. The next will be 2020. We made a handy chart for reference [below]. Knowing the week before Labor Day is a freebie makes these last popsicle days all the sweeter. Length Of Cultural Summer Katie Peek/Popular Science Each dot here represents a day, starting with May 1 each year. The days that fall between Memorial Day and Labor Day are in yellow, rather than green. In some years, highlighted in gray, the two milestones capture an extra seven days. And 2015 is one of those magical years.
NASA is using an animation to show how sea levels are rising a very different rates in different parts of the world. Meteorologist Alex Wilson explains how NASA says overall sea levels have risen more than 2 inches in the past 23 years.
Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano continued to emit ash and steam at a low level on Monday, August 31. Popocatepetl is one of the most active volcanoes in North America, currently emitting a near constant stream of gas and ash.This video shows the Popocatepetl volcano at sunrise. Credit: YouTube/Webcamsdemexico
Sep 01, 2015; 9:00 AM ET Monsoon storms in the Phoenix area have knocked out power to thousands, slowed air travel and caused flash flooding.
A big weather pattern change has arrived for Midwest and Northeast heating up into the beginning of September.
Authorities in Cape Verde say the first hurricane to pass over the West African islands caused flooding, uprooted trees and tore off some roofs but caused no major damage or injuries.
Did the National Hurricane Center flub Tropical Storm Erika's forecast? James Franklin, the center's top hurricane specialist, said Monday the forecast errors were considerably larger than normal, particularly when the system was four and five days away from...
Sep 01, 2015; 9:55 AM ET Widespread flooding between one and three feet was reported in Brownsville mainly along US 77/83. Emergency crews are urging drivers to stay off the road but drivers are ignoring the warnings.
The West continues to be a fiery inferno as August fades into September. Wildfires have exploded across the region this month. There have been 117 large wildfires to date including 70 large fires that are still burning. Those fires along with thousands of smaller blazes have contributed to 7.8 million acres burned in the U.S., a record for this time of year. A 2013 photo of the Alder Fire in Yellowstone National Park. Credit: National Park Service Climate Change Research/flickr Washington has officially had its most destructive wildfire season on record, including its largest wildfire in state history. In Alaska, 5.1 million acres have burned. Even if all the fires went out across the West tomorrow, this year would still rank as the seventh-most destructive wildfire season in terms of acres burned. But with the season set to continue for at least another month, 2015 will continue to climb the charts, though whether it displaces 2006 for the record remains to be seen. That puts it right in line with trends since the 1970s of more large fires and more acres burned by these large wildfires as the West dries out and heats up according to an updated Climate Central analysis. Climate change is one of the key drivers helping set up these dry and hot conditions favorable for wildfires. Spring and summer — two key seasons for wildfires — have warmed 2.1°F across the West, on average. Some states, particularly those in the Southwest, have warmed even faster. Add in shrinking snowpack that’s also disappearing earlier, and you have a recipe for a wildfire season that’s now 75 days longer and more devastating than it was in the 1970s. There’s been a notable increase in the large wildfires — defined as those 1,000 acres or bigger. A Climate Central analysis of U.S. Forest Service data through 2014 shows that large fires are three-and-a-half times more common now than they were in the ‘70s. They also burn seven times more acreage in an average year. The biggest changes are in the Northern Rockies. Large wildfires are now 10 times more common than they used to be and the area burned is up to 45 times greater in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Fire is a natural part of most ecosystems but a century of fire suppression, the expansion of homes, roads and infrastructure, and climate change have altered the order of things. Now there’s more fuel in the woods and hotter and drier conditions that can help fires explode with dire consequences. Air quality in downwind communities (some a thousand miles away) also suffer from the smoke. At least twice in the past 12 years, cities like Los Angeles and San Diego were forced to deal with Beijing-level air pollution caused by southern California wildfires. Intense burns can leave soil barren and inhibit the regrowth of forest. They can also erode forests’ ability to store carbon and actually turn them into a source of carbon emissions. That’s already occurring in California, there are concerns that could happen in Alaska this year and it could be coming soon to a forest near you. Climate Central's Todd Sanford provided data analysis for this story.
<p>It has long been a mystery why some earthquakes strike towns in seemingly earthquake-proof regions, but researchers now have a potential explanation for why temblors sometimes rattle where they're not expected.</p><p></p>
Will your last weekend of summer be rained out or sunny? Meteorologist Ari Sarsalari has the details on what to expect for the weekend and Monday.
Big surf began to pick up around Hilo on Hawaii's Big Island Monday evening as weakening Hurricane Ignacio moved to the north of the state with 100 mph winds.
Jason Schneider In 1975 Texas Monthly published an article that tried to explain why Houston had become “The Hottest Place in the Whole USA.”
Matt Sampson has the details behind the television gold.
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, it's the cities that have gone disaster-free that most worry experts.
The calendar may be flipping to September but summer is not going anywhere just yet across the Northeast. A push of summerlike heat and humidity will make...
<p>Rescue teams worked Sunday to reopen roads to remote communities in Dominica after Tropical Storm Erika caused flooding and mudslides that killed at least 20 people and left more than 50 missing on the Caribbean island.</p>
This is what climate change looks like. In this town of 403 residents 83 miles above the Arctic Circle, beaches are disappearing, ice is melting, temperatures are rising, and the barrier reef Kivalina calls home gets smaller and smaller with every storm.<br />
You could become the official face of “asperitas,” the first novel cloud type identified since 1951.
At least 2 people have died as the result of storms in the Pacific Northwest.
Swarms of stinging jellyfish are filling the water of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, but as CNN's Oren Liebermann reports, they are not supposed to be there.
Powerful winds toppled trees and power lines across the Pacific Northwest on Saturday, causing two deaths in the Seattle area and knocking out...
A look at iconic images of devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina on its 10th anniversary.
<p>Ten years after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, NASA has helped scientists better understand why the storm was so devastating, and how to save lives in the future.</p>
Spectacular weather photos from around the world.
Meteorologist Ari Sarsalari explains why Erika was downgraded and what the future holds for the remains of the storm.
Geologists hauling hundreds of pounds of 250-million-year-old rocks from Siberia, through Russian and American customs, say luck was on their side. Not...
In the days after Aug. 29, 2005, when the world watched Hurricane Katrina become one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, a question reverberated through the public consciousness: Was climate change to blame? Cars parked on the streets of New Orleans on Aug. 30, 2005, are flooded to the top of the wheel wells. Click image to enlarge. Credit: Marty Bahamonde/FEMA This question arose in part because of a desire after such terrible events to understand why they occur. Katrina killed an estimated 1,200 people and caused more than $100 billion in damage. But the question was also driven by an emerging public awareness of the changes that global warming might mean for the world’s weather, including hurricanes. At the time, scientists had few easy answers. There was clear evidence that temperatures around the globe had risen and expectations that this would shift weather patterns and make some events more extreme in the future, but no clear accounting had been done of whether those effects were discernible in the weather happening to us today. Ten years later, there is still no straightforward answer for this or other storms. Partly this is because the question itself is flawed, belying the complexity of these weather events and their relationship to the climate. But scientists have found other ways to probe the role of warming, by asking, for example, how sea level rise has made flooding worse or how warming has influenced entire hurricane seasons. Such studies can tell us something valuable about how climate change is impacting the world we live in, even if they can’t give us a clear “yes” or “no” answer. The Problem With Hurricanes In 2005, when Katrina helped increase awareness of climate change, the science of what is called “extreme event attribution” was just emerging. Today it is one of the fastest growing fields in climate research, with efforts even to pinpoint the role of warming just days after an event. While scientists can use certain statistical methods to say with a fair degree of confidence what role climate change has played in altering the odds of some types of extreme weather, such as heat waves, they are still hampered when it comes to highly complex phenomena like hurricanes. Unlike temperature records, which tend to extend back long enough to show how the odds of heat waves have changed over time — and whether those changes are beyond the normal chaotic ups and downs of nature — reliable hurricane records extend back at most a few decades to the beginning of satellite observations. That isn’t long enough for scientists to say with confidence that any changes to hurricane frequency or intensity over that time aren’t from natural variability alone. In fact, some work has shown that any expected trends in increased hurricane intensity may not be detectable for several decades. With relatively straightforward events like heat waves, it is also fairly simple to use computer models to compare how often an extreme event occurs with and without anthropogenic warming. But hurricanes are too small-scale and complex for broad climate models to faithfully reproduce, and relatively rare enough that it would take too much computer power and time to complete enough model runs to see any potential changes at this point. “I don’t think it’s yet doable for a hurricane,” Adam Sobel, an atmospheric scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said. Finding the Link But there are still ways for scientists to get some idea of the role of warming in hurricane activity and particular storms through other approaches. A 2013 study published in the journal Climatic Change found that Katrina’s impact on the Gulf Coast would have been significantly less damaging under the climate and sea level conditions of 1900 when its storm surge would have been anywhere from 15 to 60 percent lower. While sea level rise from warming played a noticeable role in Katrina, the main issue was another man-made problem: local land subsidence and wetland degradation that have left parts of the coast much more vulnerable to flooding. Any effect of warming on the intensity of the storm was relatively minor, the researchers found. As this study illustrates, sea level rise has so far been the clearest link that can be made between climate change and storms today. Hurricane Katrina shortly after landfall, Aug. 29, 2005, as captured by NOAA's GOES-12 weather satellite. Click image to enlarge. Credit: NOAA Another modeling study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, conducted just a year after the storm, found that warmer ocean temperatures in Katrina’s path would help boost the intensity of the storm by changing the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. That finding is broadly in line with what is expected from climate change, Gabriel Vecchi, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who was not involved with the work, said. But in the years since, researchers have noticed that the exact patterns of ocean warming can create differences in how hurricanes in different regions might respond to climate change, so studies like this don’t necessarily give the whole picture. Another avenue researchers have recently pursued is to broaden their view and look at how warming may have impacted an entire hurricane season or particular hurricane trends. A study to be published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society in September has found that manmade warming upped the odds of the uptick in hurricane activity around Hawaii in 2014, for example. And while the record is too short for any role of warming to be clear yet for trends in hurricane intensity or frequency overall, some particular trends could lend themselves toward detecting and attributing a warming influence. Tom Knutson, one of Vecchi’s NOAA colleagues and frequent collaborators, cited the recent finding that warming could shift hurricane tracks poleward, as one possibility. Another candidate could be any increase in hurricane rainfall which hasn’t shown up yet in observations, but is a robust projection in climate models, he said. The bottom line a decade out from the devastation of Katrina is that while questions on the impacts of climate change in today’s world don’t always have easy answers, it doesn’t mean researchers can’t say anything at all.
The risk of major blazes could increase 600 percent by mid-century, say scientists.
CNN's Hala Gorani speaks to NASA climate scientist Josh Willis about the significance of the melting of Greenland's rapidly melting ice sheets.
Scientists are baffled as to what may be causing a high volume of whale deaths in the Gulf of Alaska this summer. From May 2015 to mid-August, 30 large...
Residents were assessing the damage on Tuesday, after a small tornado tore through the town of Dubbo in the Australian state of New South Wales on Monday, bringing down power lines and trees, reported local media. (Aug. 25)
The latest data on sea level rise from global warming suggests that three feet (one meter) or more is unavoidable in the next 100-200 years, NASA scientists said Wednesday.
<p>Two mysterious red hazes hovered over Earth on August 10. Astronauts onboard the International Space Station snapped a picture of the first one as it passed over the Midwest--either Illinois or Missouri. And yesterday NASA's Earth Observatory announced that a second one was spotted just minutes later over Mexico.</p>
In honor of the agency’s 99th birthday, the National Park Service is offering free entrance to its 58 parks and 350 other sites. In the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies, park visitors might also be hoping that entry comes with a free respirator and x-ray vision. 
Strange blue lights glowing on the edge of space first appeared over polar regions in 1885 and today, sightings are becoming increasingly common, and now the phenomenon is moving into lower latitudes including Northern California. Like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, these glowing space clouds may be a celestial siren, warning of Earth's global warming, according to some scientists.
It's not what Bostonians want to hear: The Farmer's Almanac says another rough winter is in your stars.
Dozens of wildfires raging across the northwestern United States have spread a vail of smoke over the region, blocking the sun and causing health issues.
A beautiful sight appeared in Tucson, Arizona after a recent storm, a spectacular double rainbow.
There’s a drought in California. Perhaps you’ve heard a few things about it. Like the fact that it’s cost the state $2.7 billion in losses, helped burn up roughly 118,000 acres of forest this year to date and inspired Los Angeles to release a 96 million-strong armada of shade balls into reservoirs (though it was apparently a PR stunt). 
<p>With an El Nino growing in the Pacific Ocean and climate change spurring global temperatures ever higher, almost nothing can stop Earth from breaking 2014’s mark for the warmest year on record.</p>
Surveillance of straight line winds destroying a parking structure in Amarillo, TX.
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