Extreme events of 2011: climate change a major factor in some, but not all

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:54 PM GMT on July 11, 2012

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The science of quantifying how climate change changes the odds of extreme weather events like droughts and floods took a major step forward Tuesday with the publication of NOAA's annual summary of the past year's weather. The 2011 State of the Climate report contains a separate peer-reviewed article published in the July issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society titled, Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 From a Climate Perspective. In the paper, a group of scientists led by Peter Stott of the Met Office Centre in the United Kingdom looked at how climate change may have changed the odds of occurrence of some of 2011's notable weather extremes. These kinds of attribution studies require huge amounts of computer time and take many months to do, but the scientists plan to start making this a regular part of the annual NOAA State of the Climate report. Some of their findings for 2011:

- Determining the causes of extreme events remains difficult. While scientists cannot trace specific events to climate change with absolute certainty, new and continued research help scientists understand how the probability of extreme events change in response to global warming.

- La Niña-related heat waves, like that experienced in Texas in 2011, are now 20 times more likely to occur during La Niña years today than La Niña years fifty years ago.

- The UK experienced a very warm November 2011 and a very cold December 2010. In analyzing these two very different events, UK scientists uncovered interesting changes in the odds. Cold Decembers are now half as likely to occur now versus fifty years ago, whereas warm Novembers are now 62 times more likely.

- The devastating 2011 floods in Thailand caused an estimated $45 billion in damage, making it the world's most expensive river flooding disaster in history. The study found, however, that the amount of rain that fell in the catchment area was not very unusual, and that other factors such as human-caused changes to the flood plain and the movement of more people into flood-prone areas were more important in causing the disaster. "Climate change cannot be shown to have played any role in this event," the study concluded, but warned that climate models predict an increase in the probability of extreme precipitation events in the future in the region.

- The deadly drought in East Africa, which killed tens of thousands of people in 2011, was made more likely by warming waters in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. While the scientists did not specifically tie the warming of these waters to human-caused global warming, they noted that climate models predict continued warming of these waters in the coming decades, and this will likely "contribute to more frequent East African droughts during the spring and summer."


Figure 1. An SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 14, flies around the Bangkok area with members of the humanitarian assessment survey team and the Royal Thai Armed Forces to assess the damage caused by the 2011 floods. Image credit: Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Villalovos.

Weather on steroids
One interesting aspect of the paper was the scientists' use of the baseball player-steroids analogy to help explain how climate change can increase the odds of extreme weather: "One analogy of the effects of climate change on extreme weather is with a baseball player (or to choose another sport, a cricketer) who starts taking steroids and afterwards hits on average 20% more home runs (or sixes) in a season than he did before (Meehl 2012). For any one of his home runs (sixes) during the years the player was taking steroids, you would not know for sure whether it was caused by steroids or not. But you might be able to attribute his increased number to the steroids. And given that steroids have resulted in a 20% increased chance that any particular swing of the player’s bat results in a home run (or a six), you would be able to make an attribution statement that, all other things being equal, steroid use had increased the probability of that particular occurrence by 20%. The job of the attribution assessment is to distinguish the effects of anthropogenic climate change or some other external factor (steroids in the sporting analogy) from natural variability (e.g., in the baseball analogy, the player’s natural ability to hit home runs or the configuration of a particular stadium)."



Video 1. National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist Dr. Jerry Meehl explains how climate change's impact on extreme weather is like how steroids affect a baseball player.

Jeff Masters

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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
Quoting LargoFl:
..simply amazing, going from drought to now possible flooding, hope all your lakes etc are filling up, i know alot were going dry a month or so ago


No where near outta the drought

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Baja California needs to watch Invest 98E closely. This one isn't going out to sea it looks like, but thankfully it should be weaker than Daniel/Emilia.
wow..i bet they sure could use its rains there, hope your right that it weakens
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
Quoting wxmod:


And the same amount is released into the atmosphere when it burns. There are billions of trees on fire right now, so I don't think your "answer" is gonna save us.
true but that is a natural occurance, clearing the way for new tree's
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
Quoting stormygace:
Just curious - for the anthropogenic global warming crowd -

Your questions are not very original or sincere, although Dr. Masters has answered them in the past.
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:
Not a drop here again. Flooding around me. Stay safe out there.

..simply amazing, going from drought to now possible flooding, hope all your lakes etc are filling up, i know alot were going dry a month or so ago
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
Quoting jrweatherman:
Hmmm. I hear that it is getting warmer on Mars. I wonder who is causing that?


Could you provide a link to some data? Thank you.
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124. wxmod
Quoting LargoFl:
people laugh when i say, plant a tree......well here is the answer to the problem,how much carbon does one tree absorb...........................................A bout 1000 kg (2204.62262 lb) is absorbed by one average tree per year. Read More »
Source: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_co2_absorbed_by _trees


And the same amount is released into the atmosphere when it burns. There are billions of trees on fire right now, so I don't think your "answer" is gonna save us.
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Not a drop here again. Flooding around me. Stay safe out there.

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Quoting LargoFl:
people laugh when i say, plant a tree......well here is the answer to the problem,how much carbon does one tree absorb...........................................A bout 1000 kg (2204.62262 lb) is absorbed by one average tree per year. Read More »
Source: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_co2_absorbed_by _trees
..now i wonder, how much co-2 does one person create in one year?..maybe plant a tree for every person in your household, imagine, just imagine..if every human on earth, did that...poof goes global warming? and poof goes the taxes..oh wait...then they might place a tax on tree planting?..in this day an age, one never knows huh
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
Baja California needs to watch Invest 98E closely. This one isn't going out to sea it looks like, but thankfully it should be weaker than Daniel/Emilia.
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
people laugh when i say, plant a tree......well here is the answer to the problem,how much carbon does one tree absorb...........................................A bout 1000 kg (2204.62262 lb) is absorbed by one average tree per year. Read More »
Source: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_co2_absorbed_by _trees
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
Quoting biloxibob:
He ,most likely,has a PHD in blobology.
a PhB?
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


why does sat seem annular, but microwave doesnt?


Microwave mostly does... plus it is about ~2 hours old and the convection has rotated some. But she is annular or close to it.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
So she is turning annular....





why does sat seem annular, but microwave doesnt?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9730
Quoting WxGeekVA:
So she is turning annular....




She's strengthening too judging by Dvorak loops.

If only she could clear out that eye...
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Quoting Minnemike:
is he then a qualified blobber?
He ,most likely,has a PHD in blobology.
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So she is turning annular....



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BET you did NOT know this..Texas leads the Nation...in Flood related Deaths?..................Link
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
Quoting stormygace:
Just curious - for the anthropogenic global warming crowd - how many of you have limited your breeding (especially to less than 2 offspring)? How many of you telecommute or videoconference attendence to work or academic/ continuing education conferences (instead pulling Al Gore's jet routine) instead of burning hydrocarbons for that"face time" at conferences (on AGW of all ironies)? How many of you forgo toting the whole overblown family to vacations far from home (especially to places that expend vast amounts of energy to heat/cool or entertain in artificial environments), expending lotsa hydrocarbons, rather than having stay-cations or bicyleable trips with your clutches?
How many of you really call for Hazmat cleanup when you break a twisty pc lightbulb and release that powdered mercury for those kids to inhale? What's your thermostat set at? Do you really have a garden, compost or vermiculture your non-meat kitchen waste? What are you going to do with that Prius when the battery doesn't hold its charge anymore? Just wondering. Big Al et al.certainly have demonstrated some sort of leadership by example, no?

Oh Jeff - congrats on the big sale of Wunderground to The Weather Channel. I suspect we'll be seeing many more scientific explanations like that baseball player on steroids analogy. Thanks for paving the way.
I've found through the years that the number of mentions of Al Gore's name in an internet article or blog post is almost always inversely proportional to the amount of intellectual honesty and/or scientific fact contained therein. This comment verifies that hypothesis.

But I'll bite off a piece of this stale and moldy bread anyway and remind everyone that any one person's failure to precisely toe the line where climate change mitigation is concerned in no way invalidates the fact that the climate is indeed changing, and very quickly. And for the record, the world isn't heating up because consumers are demanding the continued burning of fossil fuels; it's heating up because there are hundreds of billions--if not trillions--of dollars to be made in not switching to available (and could soon be available) alternatives, so those seeking to reap those billions have done, and continue to do, everything within their power to be sure no such switch is made.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13537
Quoting Skyepony:
Blob off the SE coast of FL is looking good. Slight rotation on radar. Land is working it today. MLB WRF still making an invest or depression of it in the east gulf. Another wave should come across the central state fri/sat. WRF looks like it might try to eventually sucks that into East GOM blob making one of those multivortcity messes that never really forms well. The other models aren't picking up on it, even the blob there now other than a midlevel vorticity that is quickly blown out.
or.go.north?
Member Since: September 11, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 4596
Quoting biloxibob:
who,among us is the best Blobologist ?


1. Grothar
2. GeorgiaStormz
3. Levi32
4. TropicalAnalystwx13
5. hydrus
6. It doesnt really matter, no one else compares!!
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9730
108. wxmod
Fires in Russia, top right, and North Pole, bottom left. MODIS

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Quoting jrweatherman:
Hmmm. I hear that it is getting warmer on Mars. I wonder who is causing that?
..no tree's there?
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
Quoting LargoFl:
..wow rita, i bet that is happening in alot of area's around there


Nah, rain is scattered. Wherever it's falling is where the action is. My place got 1.05" while in the same town just a mile or two away getting 3" so it's luck of the draw. Until a band or stalled cell is training over you aint much going on.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


Grother by far as he is the most experienced and seasoned blogger on here. LOL
is he then a qualified blobber?
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Quoting biloxibob:
who,among us is the best Blobologist ?

Grothar.
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Looks like the models are consistently weakening the high out in the Atlantic and actually show a slight shift of it to the northeast allowing more troughing along the East Coast of the United States about 168 hours from now. Also if you notice the Pacific high really deepens as well. Should be an interesting time period, allowing the start of Cape Verde season for the first time this year IMHO.
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Hmmm. I hear that it is getting warmer on Mars. I wonder who is causing that?
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Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service New Orleans la
10:03 am CDT Wednesday Jul 11 2012


Update...


Increased probability of precipitation for areas west of the Interstate 55 corridor as a
convective band of precipitation moves into the region. Have went
to categorical probability of precipitation for this area. For areas east of Interstate
55...have increased to likely probability of precipitation for today as the convective
band will likely hold together and move into the area this
afternoon. Tweaked temperatures up a bit along the Mississippi
coast to the upper 80s...due to less cloud cover and rainfall than
previously expected. 32


&&


Previous discussion... /issued 936 am CDT Wednesday Jul 11 2012/


Update...


Sounding discussion...
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FLOOD STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE JACKSONVILLE FL
1003 AM EDT WED JUL 11 2012

...THE FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR THE FOLLOWING RIVERS IN FLORIDA...

SANTA FE RIVER AT FORT WHITE AFFECTING ALACHUA...BRADFORD...
COLUMBIA...GILCHRIST...SUWANNEE AND UNION COUNTIES
SANTA FE RIVER AT THREE RIVERS ESTATES AFFECTING COLUMBIA...
GILCHRIST AND SUWANNEE COUNTIES


PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

SAFETY MESSAGE...RESIDENTS AND THOSE WITH INTERESTS ALONG THE RIVER
SHOULD TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT THREATENED PROPERTY. HIGH AND FAST
FLOWING RIVERS ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR RECREATION OF ANY KIND. KEEP
CHILDREN AWAY FROM FLOODED AREAS. DO NOT DRIVE VEHICLES THROUGH
FLOODED AREAS. TURN AROUND...DON`T DROWN.

&&
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
Quoting RitaEvac:
South of Tomball, NW of Houston


..wow rita, i bet that is happening in alot of area's around there
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
Quoting biloxibob:
who,among us is the best Blobologist ?


Grother by far as he is the most experienced and seasoned blogger on here. LOL
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting Daisyworld:


Adding sulfate aerosols to the atmosphere is not a new proposal on geoengineering, and Dr. Mann explains himself why it's not feasible in part 5 of the Nature's Edge ABC News interview.

Geoengineering is a desparate, last-ditch half-effort by a civilization that squandered the opportunity to fix a problem of their own creation in it's infancy. To turn a phrase, it's tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bath water.


we would still have to cut down on CO2, but are you sure we cant add it to what we do?
somehow without heating the artic?
If we overall cool teh globe by 20%, wouldnt the artic at least still cool slightly?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9730
Quoting biloxibob:
who,among us is the best Blobologist ?
..lol, almost lost my coffee lol
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


TWC says this area is something to watch over the coming days in their Tropical Outlook. This blob looks good on sat and it is even sending rain bands up toward Melbourne which hasn't had much rain at all so far this month so this is great news for the east coast of FL.

who,among us is the best Blobologist ?
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................................hopefully some of the dry area's of Georgia will finally get some rain today
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
Quoting Daisyworld:


Adding sulfate aerosols to the atmosphere is not a new proposal on geoengineering, and Dr. Mann explains himself why it's not feasible in part 5 of the Nature's Edge ABC News interview.

Geoengineering is a desparate, last-ditch half-effort by a civilization that squandered the opportunity to fix a problem of their own creation in it's infancy. To turn a phrase, it's tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bath water.
..plant tree's..who absorb and eat..carbon, but no one will, cant get taxes from planting tree's
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
Noted! lol thanks GAZ
Link Loop
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Quoting StormTracker2K:


Yeah the lightning is getting out of hand around here already today. Even flooding occurring near Orlando International.


.......gee that rain sure is coming down huh
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
BULLETIN
HURRICANE EMILIA ADVISORY NUMBER 16
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL EP052012
800 AM PDT WED JUL 11 2012

...EMILIA CONTINUES OVER THE OPEN OCEAN WITH NO CHANGE IN
INTENSITY...


SUMMARY OF 800 AM PDT...1500 UTC...INFORMATION
----------------------------------------------
LOCATION...14.6N 117.3W
ABOUT 750 MI...1205 KM SW OF THE SOUTHERN TIP OF BAJA CALIFORNIA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...105 MPH...165 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 285 DEGREES AT 9 MPH...15 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...970 MB...28.64 INCHES

----------------------------------------------


HURRICANE EMILIA DISCUSSION NUMBER 16
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL EP052012
800 AM PDT WED JUL 11 2012

THE CLOUD PATTERN HAS NOT CHANGED DURING THE PAST SEVERAL HOURS. IT
CONSISTS OF AN EYE SURROUNDED BY A RING OF VERY DEEP CONVECTION AND
NO BANDING FEATURES. SATELLITE INTENSITY ESTIMATES STILL SUPPORT
AN INITIAL INTENSITY OF 90 KNOTS. GIVEN THE CURRENT ANNULAR
STRUCTURE ON SATELLITE...EMILIA WILL PROBABLY NOT CHANGE MUCH IN
INTENSITY TODAY...BUT THE OVERALL TREND IS FOR THE HURRICANE TO
GRADUALLY WEAKEN AS THE CIRCULATION STARTS TO INTERACT WITH COOLER
WATERS IN ABOUT 12 HOURS OR SO.

THE TRACK HAS NOT CHANGED EITHER...AND EMILIA CONTINUES TO MOVE
TOWARD THE WEST-NORTHWEST OR 285 DEGREES AT 8 KNOTS. THE HURRICANE
IS TRAPPED SOUTH OF A STRONG SUBTROPICAL RIDGE WHICH IS FORECAST BY
GLOBAL MODELS TO PERSIST. THIS STEERING PATTERN WILL LIKELY KEEP
EMILIA MOVING ON THE SAME GENERAL TRACK UNTIL THE END OF THE
FORECAST PERIOD WITH NO IMPORTANT CHANGE IN FORWARD SPEED. BECAUSE
THE STEERING CURRENTS ARE WELL ESTABLISHED...THE TRACK GUIDANCE IS
IN FAIRLY GOOD AGREEMENT...AND MOST OF THE MODELS HAVE A WEAKENING
CYCLONE PROGRESSING WESTNORTHWESTARD AND WESTWARD. THE OFFICIAL
FORECAST IS VERY CLOSE TO THE MODEL CONSENSUS AND NOT TOO FAR FROM
THE PREVIOUS ONE.


FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 11/1500Z 14.6N 117.3W 90 KT 105 MPH
12H 12/0000Z 15.1N 118.7W 85 KT 100 MPH
24H 12/1200Z 15.5N 120.5W 75 KT 85 MPH
36H 13/0000Z 16.0N 122.5W 70 KT 80 MPH
48H 13/1200Z 16.5N 125.0W 60 KT 70 MPH
72H 14/1200Z 17.0N 130.0W 45 KT 50 MPH
96H 15/1200Z 17.5N 135.0W 30 KT 35 MPH
120H 16/1200Z 17.5N 140.5W 25 KT 30 MPH

$$
FORECASTER AVILA
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting LargoFl:
. ask the 5,000 homes around tampa that lost power in the middle of a horrble storm, they might have an answer, lightning like I have never seen before, waves of strikes, unreal


Yeah the lightning is getting out of hand around here already today. Even flooding occurring near Orlando International.


Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting HurricaneKing:


Ok you CAN get tropical cylcones anywhere along stalled fronts that the vorticity can tighten enough to break from the front and continue developing through tropical processes. This is how you get multiple TC's from one stalled front. (Rare but does occur)

You just need for the front to have decayed to a level that the vorticity can free itself and also as a front decays the shear zone associated with the temperature gradient and upper level trough normally weakens allowing for a system to form.

Right now the system off of North Carolina is still embeded in the front and associated with the upper level trough in the area so no cigar at the moment.

As a note. This front is weakening though as you ca see to the south of the main cloud mass off the east coast frontal ropes (they look similar to outflow boundaries)


true, but the problem is the front isnt just gonna decay anytime soon.
It will fizzle over the US but the ATL development is as you say, no deal
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9730
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
why dont we mass produce sulfates and aerosols like the ones that come from volcanos and continually emit them while cutting down on carbon.
We could make our goal to reduce insolation to 80% of our pre-greenhouse gas level so as the reverse the effect slowly
Ive seen hydrogen sulfide as a candidate, why not continually produce and release millions of tons of it?

It seems like it would work faster


Adding sulfate aerosols to the atmosphere is not a new proposal on geoengineering, and Dr. Mann explains himself why it's not feasible in part 5 of the Nature's Edge ABC News interview.

Geoengineering is a desparate, last-ditch half-effort by a civilization that squandered the opportunity to fix a problem of their own creation in it's infancy. To turn a phrase, it's tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bath water.
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South of Tomball, NW of Houston


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...looks like the panhandle is going to get whacked tomorrow if these chances prove true,i notice he has us now at 50% instead of 60% tomorrow, wonder if that is a typo
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38525
Quoting Chicklit:


not saying it will or won't just thought it worth noting.


say it wont, say it wont!!!

ok, lol jk.

It has been noted
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9730
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


not off the middle of the front, if anything formed it would be on the bottom of the front.
If it formed on the middle it would get pushed along and sheared by the front and would never form.

It is simply a Low pressure forming on the front, a very common occurence.


pcola this is to you too ;)


Ok you CAN get tropical cylcones anywhere along stalled fronts that the vorticity can tighten enough to break from the front and continue developing through tropical processes. This is how you get multiple TC's from one stalled front. (Rare but does occur)

You just need for the front to have decayed to a level that the vorticity can free itself and also as a front decays the shear zone associated with the temperature gradient and upper level trough normally weakens allowing for a system to form.

Right now the system off of North Carolina is still embeded in the front and associated with the upper level trough in the area so no cigar at the moment.

As a note. This front is weakening though as you ca see to the south of the main cloud mass off the east coast frontal ropes (they look similar to outflow boundaries)
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Quoting Skyepony:
Blob off the SE coast of FL is looking good. Slight rotation on radar. Land is working it today. MLB WRF still making an invest or depression of it in the east gulf. Another wave should come across the central state fri/sat. WRF looks like it might try to eventually sucks that into East GOM blob making one of those multivortcity messes that never really forms well. The other models aren't picking up on it, even the blob there now other than a midlevel vorticity that is quickly blown out.


TWC says this area is something to watch over the coming days in their Tropical Outlook. This blob looks good on sat and it is even sending rain bands up toward Melbourne which hasn't had much rain at all so far this month so this is great news for the east coast of FL.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.