Dark Snow Project: Crowd-Source Funded Science for Greenland

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:03 PM GMT on April 26, 2013

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"There's no place on Earth that is changing faster--and no place where that change matters more--than Greenland." So said 350.org founder Bill McKibben, in a 2012 Rolling Stone magazine interview. As Earth Week 2013 draws to a close, I want to draw your attention to a unique effort to learn more about why Greenland is melting so fast--a crowd-funded research project that anyone can contribute to, which aims to answer the "burning question": How much does wildfire and industrial soot darken the ice, increasing melt? The Dark Snow Project, the first-ever Greenland expedition relying on crowd-source funding, hopes to raise $150,000 to mount a field research campaign to find out. The project is the brainchild of Dr. Jason Box, Professor at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), and one of the world's leading experts on Greenland's glaciers. He has set up a website called darksnowproject.org to help raise the funds for the field campaign, and has raised about half of the needed amount as of mid-April.


Figure 1. Over the course of several years, turbulent water overflow from a large melt lake carved this 60-foot-deep (18.3 meter-deep) canyon in Greenland's Ice Sheet (note people near left edge for scale). Image credit: Ian Joughin, University of Washington.

2012: Unprecedented melting in Greenland
Watching the weather events of 2012 over Greenland made all seasoned climate watchers a little queasy. The vast ice sheet on the island holds enough water to raise global sea levels by 7.36 meters (24.15 feet) were it all to melt, and the ice melt season of 2012 gave notice that an epic melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet may be underway. According to NOAA's 2012 Arctic Report Card, the duration of melting at the surface of the ice sheet in summer 2012 was the longest since satellite observations began in 1979, and the total amount of summer melting was nearly double the previous record, set in 2010 (satellite records of melting go back to 1979.) A rare, near-ice sheet-wide surface melt event melted 97% of the surface of Greenland's ice sheet on July 11 - 12. While a similar melt event at the summit occurred 1889, but the 1889 event has no basis in the instrumental record from coastal Greenland. It's instead likely that 2012 was Greenland's warmest summer in at least 863 years, since the medieval warm period (see http://www.meltfactor.org/blog/?p=677 and http://www.meltfactor.org/blog/?p=725). The incredibly warm temperatures have been blamed on highly unusual atmospheric circulation and jet stream changes, which were also responsible for 2012's unusually wet summer weather in England. It would not be a surprise if this sort of summer began occurring more often, since temperatures on top of the Greenland Ice Sheet have been rising six times faster than the global average during the past twenty years. A May 2013 Geophysical Research Letters paper by McGrath et al., "Recent warming at Summit, Greenland: Global context and implications", concluded that by 2025, there is a 50% chance of ice sheet-wide melt events happening annually. The ice sheet reached its darkest value on record in 2012. The darkened surface was due to below average summer snow, soot particles from pollution and forest fires, and record melting. A darker ice sheet absorbs more solar energy, in a vicious cycle that raises temperatures, melts more ice, and further darkens the ice sheet. The amount of melting that was caused by soot from forest fires is important to know, since global warming is likely to increase the amount of forest fires in coming decades. However, the amount of forest fire soot landing on the Greenland Ice Sheet is almost completely unknown, which is why Dr. Box is determined to find out, via the Dark Snow Project.


Figure 2. Smoke from a fire in Labrador, Canada wafts over the Greenland ice sheet on June 17, 2012, as seen in this cross-section view of aerosol particles taken by NASA's CALIPSO satellite. Image credit: Dr. Jason Box, Ohio State University.

Greenland causing 25% of global sea level rise
In a landmark study published in November 2012 in Science, 47 researchers from 26 laboratories reported that the amount of ice being lost from Greenland and Antarctica has tripled since the 1990s, with Greenland contributing more than twice as much to global sea level rise than Antarctica. The study, "A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance", found that the two ice sheets were responsible for 20% of the global sea level rise of 3.1 mm/year during the 20-year period 1992 - 2011. The remainder of the rise was due to expansion of the water due to heating of the oceans, melting of mountain glaciers, and unsustainable pumping of ground water. Said co-author Erik Ivins of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, "The pace of ice loss from Greenland is extraordinary, with nearly a five-fold increase since the mid-1990s." As of 2011, Greenland's contribution to global sea level rise on its own had risen to 20 - 25%, according to an international research group led by the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, in an article published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters on 1 June 2012. If the current exponential ice loss trends continue for the next ten years, Greenland's contribution to sea level rise will double to 1.4 mm/yr by 2022, the researchers said. Many sea level rise researchers expect global sea level to rise by about 1 meter (3.3 feet) by 2100. During the 20th century, global sea level rise was about 0.18 meters (7 inches.)


Figure 3. Monthly smoothed (purple) and unsmoothed (blue) values of the total mass lost from the Greenland Ice Sheet (in Gigatons, Gt) from measurements by the GRACE satellites between March 2002-September 2012. An approximate equivalent global sea level rise figure is on the right axis. Note that the decline in ice mass lost from Greenland is not a straight line--it is exponential, meaning that more ice loss is lost each year than in the previous year. Image credit: 2012 Arctic Report Card.

Will Antarctica be more important than Greenland for sea level rise?
Although melting from Greenland is currently raising global sea level by about a factor of two more than Antarctica melting is, that situation may change later this century. A 2013 study by Dahl-Jensen et al. looked at a new ice core drilled from the bottom-most depths of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The core suggests that the ice in Greenland may have partially survived the warm Eemian period before the Ice Age, approximately 118,000 - 126,000 years ago, when Greenland temperatures were 5- 8°C warmer than present-day temperatures. Global sea level during the Eemian was 4 - 8 meters (13 - 26 ft) higher than the present sea level, and the scientists estimated that melting from Greenland was responsible for 2 meters (6.6 ft) of this sea level rise. This implies that Antarctica was responsible for 50 - 75% of global sea level rise during the Eemian, and thus we might expect Antarctica to take over as the dominant source of sea level rise later this century, when global temperatures may to rise to levels similar to those experienced during the Eemian.

Related posts
Greenland experiences melting over 97% of its area in mid-July (July 25, 2012)
Record warmth at the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet (July 18, 2012)
Unprecedented May heat in Greenland; update on 2011 Greenland ice melt (May, 2012)
Greenland update for 2010: record melting and a massive calving event

Dr. Jason Box's blog on Greenland and the Dark Snow Project is at http://www.meltfactor.org.

The http://www.greenlandmelting.com/ website looks like a great resource for following this year's melt progression in Greenland.


Video 1. Glaciologist Dr. Jason Box and 350.org founder Bill McKibben plug the Darksnow project in this January 2013 video by Peter Sinclair. There's some impressive footage of the record Greenland snow melt of summer 2012 sweeping away a 20-ton tractor that was attempting to repair a bridge washed out by the raging Watson River on July 11, 2012 in Kangerlussauaq, Greenland. The driver escaped unharmed.

Support the Dark Snow Project
One of Dr. Box's collaborators, photographer James Balog, who created the amazing time-lapse Greenland glacier footage in the fantastic 2012 "Chasing Ice" movie, puts it like this: "Working in Greenland these past years has left me with a profound feeling of being in the middle of a decisive historic moment--the kind of moment, at least in geologic terms, that marks the grand tidal changes of history." On that note, I encourage you all to support the Dark Snow Project. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Dark Snow Project Expedition Plan 2013
Prepare and gather science equipment including a field spectrometer, snow and ice coring device, and snow metrics kit.

Travel to Iqualuit, on Baffin Island, Nunavut from home locales in California, Ohio, Michigan, Vermont and rendezvous with Dash-6 "Twin Otter" ski-equipped airplane and flight crew.

Organize cold weather survival kit.

Ferry team from Iqualuit to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

Fly to and land at sampling sites high on the inland ice sheet.

At each site collect snow samples from a snow pit and obtain snow cores to a minimum depth of the previous year's snow surface, and record snow properties.

Transport of team and snow samples to Greenland's capital Nuuk, where the team will rest after hustling at field sites.

Return to Iqualuit, then to respective home locales to start the data analysis and reporting phase of campaign.

Jeff Masters

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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting StAugustineFL:


Largo, that was TS Beryl from last year. Nothing going on offshore Carolina's at the moment.
oh ok..many thanks
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Quoting PedleyCA:


Bette Davis Eyes
yessss.thats it, man i loved that song
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Quoting LargoFl:
hmm what was that old song "and she knows how to make a crow blush"..lol


Bette Davis Eyes
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5689
best chance for my area is thursday as the low approaches ...
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Quoting LargoFl:
wow..it looks like the coastal area's of the Carolina's are going to be in danger


Largo, that was TS Beryl from last year. Nothing going on offshore Carolina's at the moment.
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18z total surface precip run total



looks like every shifted arounf to east

more runs to come by noon sunday we should get a better handle on things

wait watch see
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Quoting clwstmchasr:


While some folks in Florida are excited about the potential of a system off the East Coast, I caution you. This type of setup could actually dry Florida even more (Dr. Masters mentions fanning fires) instead of bringing beneficial rains. It all is dependent on where (if) the low forms. Plenty of time to watch the models and look for consistency.
good point there..if i followed the gfs right..a blob(low) crosses florida then up into the gulfstream waters off the atlantic coast, my guess is..we here around tampa get the rains when it crosses florida..gee i hope this happens.
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Quoting StormTrackerScott:
WPC.
Scott if that proves true, once again Tampa etc gets left in the dust rain wise..we desperately need our west coast rainy season to kick in.
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Quoting Gearsts:
wow..it looks like the coastal area's of the Carolina's are going to be in danger
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Quoting indianrivguy:
Watching Current TV, one coal plant operating for 10 days, negates 300,000 trees for 100 years. Carbon Nation is the program.


Well, that is a scary statistic.

76.1 here.
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5689
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
This forecast upper-level low is unusually tiny...

/s

a hyper storm
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1511
Quoting JeffMasters:


It is very interesting that the models are hinting at a subtropical storm a week from now off the SE coast. I'd prefer to wait at least another day or two to see how the models evolve with this before blogging about it, though--the positioning of the storm could easily change by a few hundred miles. If it's going to be a storm with significant impacts, I've got a whole 5 days to blog about it next week. I may blog on this system on Sunday if its looking like a potential named storm or major precipitation event. The storm could bring strong winds to Florida, fanning any fires that might erupt in the drought areas.

Jeff Masters


Thanks Doc. It looks as if this system will be a benificial rain maker for FL so any wild fires would be at a minimal. April has actually been very wet for many areas across the FL Penisula.

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The choice is $19.99 a month or $185 a year.
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1511
http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/a-nig ht-of-exploration/videos/the-fragility-of-glaciers /
Quoting indianrivguy:
Chasing Ice will be on Nat Geo in 2 minutes


http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/a-n ight-of-exploration/episodes/chasing-ice/
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WPC.
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Quoting Gearsts:
You pay every month or just 1 time?

The choice is $19.99 a month or $185 a year.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31508
Quoting JeffMasters:


It is very interesting that the models are hinting at a subtropical storm a week from now off the SE coast. I'd prefer to wait at least another day or two to see how the models evolve with this before blogging about it, though--the positioning of the storm could easily change by a few hundred miles. If it's going to be a storm with significant impacts, I've got a whole 5 days to blog about it next week. I may blog on this system on Sunday if its looking like a potential named storm or major precipitation event. The storm could bring strong winds to Florida, fanning any fires that might erupt in the drought areas.

Jeff Masters
Thanks! can't wait!
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1511
I'm a bit late into the blog again but thanks anyway.
Things seem to be hoting up on the ice melt front again.
One of the points hinted on but not really covered as far as I can see, is that as the ice melts more trapped soot gets uncovered. This soot before was covered by annual snow events.
Now the annual snow events are not as great as they were and they are probably melting completely in the summers.
The inevitable HENCE must be more soot on the surface than is falling, so more dark surface, so more melt to reveal more soot ad-infinitum! Or at least until we get back to the bedrock and a lot of very muddy soot deposits of course.
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
Red River levels expected to rise to very dangerous levels in Fargo, ND unfortunately


Actually Max those levels are good, as I posted a few days ago. They're built up bought up to 38' now, are supplied for 40, but previously predicted for 42', which would have been a problem. If rain stays away, and get good melt w/ warming temps, they should be O.K.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I have a paid subscription to WeatherBell, Maue and Bastardi's website. These graphics aren't available to the public [anymore] for free, unfortunately.
You pay every month or just 1 time?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1511


The Younger Dryas is one of the most well-known examples of abrupt change. About 14,500 years ago, the Earth's climate began to shift from a cold glacial world to a warmer interglacial state. Partway through this transition, temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere suddenly returned to near-glacial conditions (Figure 6). This near-glacial period is called the Younger Dryas, named after a flower (Dryas octopetala) that grows in cold conditions and became common in Europe during this time. The end of the Younger Dryas, about 11,500 years ago, was particularly abrupt. In Greenland, temperatures rose 10° C (18° F) in a decade

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/abrupt/data4.html

Melting ice leading to a "new ice age" is probably a bit over the top. It looks like what happened last time was a temporary, largely northern hemisphere, cooling event. Not a reforming of massive ice sheets around the world.
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with luck there may be a pitcture of the 18th green of our local golf course with this post, locally we have had 6 months plus 4 days of snow on the ground.
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Quoting ScottLincoln:

The Arctic sea ice melt actually has a negligible effect on global sea levels... almost no effect at all. What you really need to be worried about is the contribution of land ice melt.


Scott,

I worded that very poorly and will edit it immediately. I'm aware that melting sea ice does not contribute to sea level rise.

I was just trying to state that all models, those predicting the decline of sea ice and those predicting sea level rise have been far too conservative.

Thanks for noting my error.
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Thing to watch out for next week with that low, in terms of if/when it emerges off the Coast of Florida or Georgia, will be if the center gets over/near the Gulf Stream for any length of time to allow any type of transition to a warm or semi-warm cored system.

Here is a Navy Gulf Stream chart from today showing the current SST's along the coast. As of today, the only region with plus 80 degrees is off the South-Central coast of Florida.....Further north off the coast of Georgia/Carolinas, it is running between 73-77 degrees. Note that the Caribbean is already boiling.

Link
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Quoting Gearsts:
Can you post the link to that?

I have a paid subscription to WeatherBell, Maue and Bastardi's website. These graphics aren't available to the public [anymore] for free, unfortunately.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31508
203. JeffMasters (Admin)
Quoting Neapolitan:
My comment wasn't for the forum in general, but was instead in direct response to someone who complained that Dr. Masters isn't speaking about tropical weather yet...


It is very interesting that the models are hinting at a subtropical storm a week from now off the SE coast. I'd prefer to wait at least another day or two to see how the models evolve with this before blogging about it, though--the positioning of the storm could easily change by a few hundred miles. If it's going to be a storm with significant impacts, I've got a whole 5 days to blog about it next week. I may blog on this system on Sunday if its looking like a potential named storm or major precipitation event. The storm could bring strong winds to Florida, fanning any fires that might erupt in the drought areas.

Jeff Masters
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The ECMWF has similar total accumulated precipitation values through 240 hours.

Can you post the link to that?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1511
Quoting OldLeatherneck:
Since the Arctic Sea ICe is declining at a much faster rate than the models predicted, I most comfortable with any prediction that says sea level rise will be limited to just 1 meter, within this century.

The Arctic sea ice melt actually has a negligible effect on global sea levels... almost no effect at all. What you really need to be worried about is the contribution of land ice melt.
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The ECMWF has similar total accumulated precipitation values through 240 hours.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31508
Atl/CPac seasons start in 35 days... Epac in 20 days...
We don't decide when they start, Nature does!
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14871
Quoting Thrawst:


Marble sized.
Quoting OldLeatherneck:


Could you provide the names of "some scientists" as well as links to any peer-reviewed studies they have published.

The cause of ice ages is defined by the University of Colorado in the following:

"What causes ice-ages?

Fluctuations in the amount of insolation (incoming solar radiation) are the most likely cause of large-scale changes in Earth's climate during the Quaternary. In other words, variations in the intensity and timing of heat from the sun are the most likely cause of the glacial/interglacial cycles. This solar variable was neatly described by the Serbian scientist, Milutin Milankovitch, in 1938. There are three major components of the Earth's orbit about the sun that contribute to changes in our climate. First, the Earth's spin on its axis is wobbly, much like a spinning top that starts to wobble after it slows down. This wobble amounts to a variation of up to 23.5 degrees to either side of the axis. The amount of tilt in the Earth's rotation affects the amount of sunlight striking the different parts of the globe. The greater the tilt, the stronger the difference in seasons (i.e., more tilt equals sharper differences between summer and winter temperatures). The range of motion in the tilt (from left-of-center to right-of-center and back again) takes place over a period of 41,000 years. As a result of a wobble in the Earth's spin, the position of the Earth on its elliptical path changes, relative to the time of year. This phenomenon is called the precession of equinoxes. The cycle of equinox precession takes 23,000 years to complete. In the growth of continental ice sheets, summer temperatures are probably more important than winter."


Full Article Here!

Science can be a wonderful thing if you take the time to understand it!!
try this link........Link
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Link

Hardly scientific, but I did a crude 2nd order polynomial, best fit, in Excel of the graph shown in Dr. Masters post. Assuming the same rate of melting shown in the 10+ years of data shown this is what future melting, in relation to sea level rise would look like. Again, I do not claim this to be scientific in any sense. Just a little something to make my math classes seem useful at the moment.
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Quoting LargoFl:
what people are forgetting, is all this ice melt..is Fresh water...deleting the Salinity of the atlantic...some scientists say That loss of Salinity was one of the causes of the last Ice age..


That's just a hypothesis, though a fairly good one. Fact is, there's nothing like the ice there was at the end of the last ice age today.

The hypothesis suggests that the melting of ice, particularly in N. America, as the world warmed at the end of the last ice age, caused an influx of fresh water into the north Atlantic which reduced salinity and stopped the North Atlantic Drift. The NAD depends on its dense, salty water sinking off eastern Greenland for its existence.

This induced a reversal back into ice age conditions which lasted for around a thousand years. This period is known as the 'Younger Dryas'.

There's no doubt this reversal took place, despite the fact that the Milankovitch astrophysical cycles on their own should have perpetuated the warming trend. It just goes to show how complex the climate system is, with all its positive and negative feedbacks.

I very much doubt that all the computer models we have today would have predicted the Younger Dryas. The moral is 'expect the unexpected'.
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Quoting LargoFl:
what people are forgetting, is all this ice melt..is Fresh water...deleting the Salinity of the atlantic...some scientists say That loss of Salinity was one of the causes of the last Ice age..


Could you provide the names of "some scientists" as well as links to any peer-reviewed studies they have published.

The cause of ice ages is defined by the University of Colorado in the following:

"What causes ice-ages?

Fluctuations in the amount of insolation (incoming solar radiation) are the most likely cause of large-scale changes in Earth's climate during the Quaternary. In other words, variations in the intensity and timing of heat from the sun are the most likely cause of the glacial/interglacial cycles. This solar variable was neatly described by the Serbian scientist, Milutin Milankovitch, in 1938. There are three major components of the Earth's orbit about the sun that contribute to changes in our climate. First, the Earth's spin on its axis is wobbly, much like a spinning top that starts to wobble after it slows down. This wobble amounts to a variation of up to 23.5 degrees to either side of the axis. The amount of tilt in the Earth's rotation affects the amount of sunlight striking the different parts of the globe. The greater the tilt, the stronger the difference in seasons (i.e., more tilt equals sharper differences between summer and winter temperatures). The range of motion in the tilt (from left-of-center to right-of-center and back again) takes place over a period of 41,000 years. As a result of a wobble in the Earth's spin, the position of the Earth on its elliptical path changes, relative to the time of year. This phenomenon is called the precession of equinoxes. The cycle of equinox precession takes 23,000 years to complete. In the growth of continental ice sheets, summer temperatures are probably more important than winter."


Full Article Here!

Science can be a wonderful thing if you take the time to understand it!!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
This forecast upper-level low is unusually tiny...

/s



Marble sized.
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This forecast upper-level low is unusually tiny...

/s

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31508
Crown Weather final 2013 North Atlantic forecast=16/9/5





Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14049
Quoting Xulonn:
Snip

Interesting times ahead!!


As I recall, the Cinese saying, "May you live in interesting times" is a curse.
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take a close look at the textures you find
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14871
Quoting LargoFl:
what people are forgetting, is all this ice melt..is Fresh water...deleting the Salinity of the atlantic...some scientists say That loss of Salinity was one of the causes of the last Ice age..


Have you got a link to those statements?

Some published peer-reviewed information?
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Chasing Ice will be on Nat Geo in 2 minutes
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12z JMA





Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14569
Quoting 1900hurricane:

Looks like a gnarly MCS in the Gulf with a strong cold pool (inferred by the area of fast downward velocity immediately following the area of fast upward velocity). Maybe a derecho if it occurred over land? Funky feature for sure though.

Also, I think it's worth bringing up the the GFS actually predicted a similar type of feature to track across Texas a few weeks ago, with the same type of VV couplet and everything. It didn't verify.

Link
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as per system next week a couple of systems one
un organise system over se off shore ne fla
a second up over the appla the appla sys will prime dragging in unorganized system over se to form a deep low over ohio river valley

as always maybe we wait see further runs


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Quoting russm1:


Thanks good tip!

Having read it I will be curious as to the study's findings in regards to forest fires and soot. It would seem to me that it should have been a huge problem in the past when man didn't have the firefighting capabilities we do now. Relatively speaking, not that long ago, once a fire started it couldn't be stopped until it burned itself out for whatever reason whereas today we can often get a large fire under control quickly thereby greatly reducing the amount of soot released into the air vs. 100 years ago.


You might want to read up on how the heating/melting/drying of Siberia is resulting in enormous fires. There's no firefighting capability in place to deal with that.

We're even seeing "permafrost" fires in Alaska.

100 years ago there were most likely large fires as well. But you do need to add up all the various inputs including increase greenhouse gas levels and human-produced soot.

The fires of history were not enough to offset the gradual planetary cooling we've seen over the last few thousand years. Now things are different.
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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.