NOAA's Okeanos Explorer
) is currently exploring the Gulf of Mexico
. Today, they're exploring a 19th century shipwreck! Watch the discoveries on three live streams
Since January there have been signs of a possible El Niño brewing in the pacific, the first major one since 1998. While the US-funded ocean-monitoring system is in a state of partial collapse
, the data has continued to grow stronger, and this may now be the largest ocean temperature anomoly ever seen
. A major El Niño could significantly boost global temperatures, cause severe weather and storms, melt Arctic sea ice and help push the world into a warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, accelerating global warming. (more discussion
The successor to the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM)
, the NASA/JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement
) spacecraft is preparing for launch at the Japanese Tanegashima Space Center
. GPM will be the newest international Precipitation Measurement Mission and will be the core observatory of the GPM Constellation.
The two sensors
on-board GPM are the GPM Microwave Imager (GMI)
and the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR)
. The GPM/DPR team has produced a fantastic anime about the DPR instrument
. [more inside]
Scripps Institute of Oceanography projects that next month its monitoring station will for the first time measure CO2 at 400 parts per million.
Atmospheric CO2 has risen from 280 parts per million before the Industrial Revolution. 400 ppm is an arbitrary milestone that we'll blow right past on our way to 450 ppm within a few decades. This is an unprecedentedly fast rate of increase and it's getting faster. Not all measuring stations are exactly the same: A NOAA station in the Arctic measured CO2 at 400 ppm last year. [more inside]
Wireless Emergency Alerts
(WEA) are a new service from U.S. weather service and FEMA. Starting in June, they will send a text message with a strange tone to your mobile device if you are in range of a Tornado Warning, Tsunami Warning or other major event (in the U.S. only). Major events include "Presidential Alerts." You do not need to sign up. Washington Post Capital Weather Gang
has a few more details.
A Watermelon for the Aquanauts [9:45]
- a trip down to the "wet porch" and exterior of NOAA's Aquarius Reef Base
The Storm Prediction Center
(NOAA) has issued a rare “high risk” outlook for severe weather more than a day in advance. A “high-end, life-threatening” tornado outbreak is likely on Saturday from Texas northeastward to Iowa. Weather briefing
. More info
. This is only the second time a 2-day forecast of this type has ever been issued, the last time was for an outbreak on April 7, 2006
, when more than 70 tornadoes touched down, killing 13 and causing more than $1 billion in damage. Running total of tornadoes to date compared with historical averages.
is a small uninhabited Caribbean island
74 km off the coast of Haiti. Both the US and Haiti claim sovereignty
over the island, though Haiti claims it in it's constitution
. Discovered in 1498 and explored in 1504 as part of Columbus's expedition when he became stranded on Jamaica and sent a canoe to Hispaniola
; the canoes ran into the island on the way and two Spaniards and several Indians who arrived on the island drank contaminated water killing most of the group
. The island was avoided until 1857 when it was claimed by the US as part of the Guano Islands Act
despite an earlier Haitian claim. Working conditions were very harsh on the island, manually moving over a ton guano from mines via rail cars to the landing point at Lulu Bay
which sacked the guano for transport on the S.S. Romance
. In 1889 the workers started a rebellion that killed several supervisors
and lead to a series of court cases
that affirmed the constitutionality
of the Guano Act. The island was abandoned in 1898 during the Spanish-American war forced the operator, Navassa Phosphate Company of Baltimore to file for bankruptcy
. In 1917 a lighthouse
was built since the island posed a hazard for ships entering the newly built Panama Canal. The island has remained uninhabited, save a few Haitian fishermen
that camp now and again, though it is highly coveted by amateur radio operators
seeking a DX
call-sign of KP1
. The island has been bounced around several federal
agencies until 1999
when the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
cataloged it as a National Wildlife Refuge
. In 2009 NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science launched an expedition
to catalog the flora
and fauna of the reefs of the island, including a few feral cats roaming
on the island.
"Probably the most important conservation statute ever enacted into America’s fisheries law"
.. as of 2012, all 528 federally managed fish species now have imposed catch limits.
The US is arguably the first country in the world to do it. This means every species has a hard limit of how many fish can be taken - not just how many per-boat or angler - an absolute cap on the total number (actually by weight). The law was enacted in 2006 under a policy forged under President George W. Bush and finalized with President Obama's backing.(previously)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA
) have released
their latest models/scenarios ("based on several simplifying assumptions
") of the BP spill's impact on coastlines [more inside]
There are mysterious noises in the sea. NOAA has six unidentified underwater sounds
(and their kinda creepy spectrographs) on their website, recorded by the sonar arrays that used to hunt submarines, but which are now are used for research. The most famous of these is The Bloop
, a sound of seemingly biological origin
, yet many times louder than the loudest biolocial noise. With an origin in an empty stretch of the the Pacific Ocean, it gives Cthulhu watchers something to think about
. Another once-mysterious sound, The Boing
has been identified as coming from minke whales
. Yet the sounds known as Slow Down
, Julia, Train, and others
remain intriguing mysteries. [prev.]
- "Volunteers working together to measure precipitation across the nation." Sponsored by NWS, NOAA, and more... Volunteers Wanted (pdf)
Science & technology funding has an enormous long term impact on the economy, a fact that has not escaped China. Yet, Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have proposed cutting
all National Science Foundation and Department of Energy Office of Science funding from the Senate American Reinvestment and Recovery Act
, along with almost all other proposed funding of the sciences and technological development, as a part of a $77.9B reduction effort. Why? Well, you'll notice that Nebraska & Maine don't contribute much to science & technology in the United States, nor win many grants, and hence no bacon for Nelson and Collins. [more inside]
Approximately two years ago, James Kim died
after he and his family were stranded, snowbound, in their car on the Oregon coast (Previously
, and (selflink) previously
). But what if he'd had a Personal Locator Beacon
(PLB)? [more inside]
The (U.S.) National Weather Service has released its report on a strong tornado that occured in Iowa the evening of May 25th.
On the evening of May 25th, 2008 a tornado
rated at EF5
(estimated wind speed was around 205 MPH!!) obliterated half of the town of Parkersburg, Iowa
people have died, and 70 were injured. Here is a PDF
containing incredible pictures of the damage (taken by employees of the NWS during their survey). [more inside]
"We were forced to evacuate the remotely operated vehicle, 'Jason II
,' several times to avoid getting it enveloped in volcanic clouds," said Bill Chadwick, ...one of the authors of the study. "But at other times, we could observe the eruption from only 10 feet away - something you could never do on land. So in some ways, we were able to see processes more clearly at the bottom of the ocean than we ever could on land. That was surprising." From KGW
Podcasts, videos, images, sounds, daily logs, and lots of information can be found on the project's website
A NOAA report
says Earth's surface and atmosphere
are both warming
, and that earlier work that found otherwise contains flaws. In other news, global warming has started
to weaken an important wind circulation pattern over the Pacific Ocean, a study suggests. The change could alter climate and the marine food chain in that area; polar bears
and walrus pups
The great Caribbean coral die-off
. "The 2005 die-off is bigger than all the previous 20 years combined".. magnitude never before-seen.. sea surface temps worst in the 21 years of satellite monitoring. NOAA preliminary reports
with cool graphs to left.
How Many Fish are in the Sea?
During the heady days of the late 19th century, in response to a perceived decline in coastal finfish stocks, Spencer Baird
and his clutch of young naturalists at the Smithsonian set out to find the answer. In 1871, Baird founded the U.S. Fish Commission
. The Comission set up operations in Woods Hole, MA,
where it continues its work today as the Northeast Fisheries Science Center
(a branch of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service
). The Fish Census of 1880 established the fist benchmark on fish populations in coastal waters; crews of Gloucester schooners competed to see who could bring the most bizarre fish finds
up from the platueaus of the Grand Banks, and America’s first research vessel, the Albatross
, was purpose-built for the project. Baird's protege (and later successor) George Brown Goode
compiled the data into the first comprehensive reference work on American fisheries
. Known to students of salt water as “Goode’s Fisheries”, the report (beautifully illustrated
) remains invaluable to researchers today, as today's fish populations dip into an even more drastic decline.
National Data Buoy Center
(Google cache), "the premiere source of meteorological and oceanographic measurements for the marine environment" in the U.S., is located at the NASA Stennis Space Center
on the Mississippi gulf coast, is a primary source of hurricane observational data, and is currently offline
. At present, the U.S. spends only $50 million annually on ocean observations of vital socio-economic impact. The latest national commission for ocean policy
recommended $4 billion annually, including the construction of a distributed, disaster-proof, national ocean observing system
, as a component of a global system
. The previous ocean commission report in 1969 resulted in the formation of NOAA
and the passage of the Coastal Zone Management Act
. Will Congress act? The E.U. has
Free the Weather?
On Slate, Timothy Noah explains how Santorum's National Weather Services Duties Act
effectively gags NWS in private weather's favor. [more inside]
The Ghost Nets: A New Kind of Pollution
What happens when a fishing boat loses a net on the high seas? No longer made of biodegradeable materials, these nets (which can be up to a mile long) drift freely through the oceans like needles in a haystack, trapping marine life
and damaging coral reefs. Now a team of NOAA working on the GhostNet 2005 project
has developed a computer model to help identify convergence zones
and locate these floating threats so cleanup can ensue. [Link to audio of NPR story about the project here
from the first International Polar Year (paradoxically 1881 to 1884).
Some are lovely
, some bleak
, some surreal
The weather just got a lot more accessible. The National Weather Service's weather data is now freely available
in XML format
clients; it had previously been only available through commercial providers or in a difficult-to-decipher format. Not knowing anything about web services, I'm not sure about the implications, but I imagine that anyone who knows their SOAP
could build their own weather app really easily.
19 inches of snow at Central Park and counting.
This is now a top 5 snow storm in NYC history. In 1996 the accumulation was 24 inches
It's big, it's bad, and it's coming your way. Beware Bonnie! No, no, wait. Hide from Hanna! Hmm, nope. Run from Rene! Geez, this naming thing
isn't easy. How do you name a tropical storm
? Should the name be masculine or feminine? Should it roll off the tongue with ease or be a mouthful? Are there some names you can't use
? If a tropical storm was closing in on your neighborhood, what would you
It really is amazing what kinds of cool, free, raw data you can get from the web (that other folks would charge you good money for), here are a few I've come across.
Weather, from the good folks at the NOAA/NWS
Geographic locations of zipcodes amongst other things from those pesky buggers at the US Census Office
Want reverse phone lookup data ? NANPA has the skinny.
So what other cool data feeds have people found out there ?
from NOAA of the crater at ground zero, engineers are using them to find the location of elevators and support structures located beneath the rubble.