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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Quoting KoritheMan:
The global models have become unenthusiastic regarding the potential for subtropical development off the southeast coast that was previously noted. This is the second day now, which totals up to between 4 and 8 separate runs depending on the model. Unless things change, Andrea must wait another day.

Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.


Tropical/subtropical development just never made any sense to me with the type of pattern that is forecast. Low pressure everywhere = difficult time consolidating one entity into a circulation robust enough to support tropical/subtropical cyclogenesis, especially when the lowest pressures are over land.
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Quoting DFWdad:
I like the project, sounds very interesting. Industrial soot is good for no one.

"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"

I did the math, because honestly the number sounded like a lot, and I do not remember anyone saying our sea levels have risen already. In fact, I seem to remember, that with tides and such, it is a hard thing to determine.

That's .49 inches in 20 years, when you figure 20% of 3.1mm per year for 20 years. .

"The vast ice sheet on the island holds enough water to raise global sea levels by twenty feet were it all to melt",

What exactly would it take for all of it to melt? Seriously, I want to know. How many years of no additional snow, and no winter temperatures?

I see these "what if's", and they seem to be boldly written to grab your attention. But I am a literal person, and I would like to know what it take for this seemingly worse-case scenario.



Roughly, two meters of melt over all of Greenland gives a 1 cm rise in sealevel world-wide.

The amount of white ice the sun melts on a clear day isn't that much, even less considering cold temperatures; picture how little snow melts during a cold winter day.

What really melts snow is being dirty and warm humid air. This is what is drastically changing in Greenland. As the world warms, the flow of warm air and pollutants will increase the melt.

If you figure a 100 day melt season on average, melting 2 cm of ice per day is a 1 cm rise world wide per year. That is what the current calculations are in order to get 1 meter in 100 years.
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2012/2013 Winter Analysis

The melting season is about to shift one gear higher, and so I thought it'd be useful to have a comprehensive look at this past winter (just like we did last year). As we saw in this recent PIOMAS update, it seems that this year's conditions for ice formation were better over on the Siberian side of the Arctic.

The Beaufort Sea had relatively little multi-year ice flowing in which should make the pack weaker there, as evidenced by the large cracking event of February and March. The image on the top right shows a map of the ice pack, where this year's thickness is compared to last year's (red = thicker, blue = thinner).

I want to look further into this by comparing the 2012/2013 winter with those of previous record years, such as 2006/2007, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012. Click on the images if you want a larger version.

...
The shape of the old ice pack looks similar to that of last year, except that there's no barrier of transported multi-year ice in the Beaufort Sea. That means there's no buffer zone on the Pacific side of the Arctic to slow down melt towards the end of the melting season, as happened in 2010 and 2011. This probably has to do with the fact that the barrier got annihilated during last year's record melting season.


http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2013/04/20122013-w inter-analysis.html
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The global models have become unenthusiastic regarding the potential for subtropical development off the southeast coast that was previously noted. This is the second day now, which totals up to between 4 and 8 separate runs depending on the model. Unless things change, Andrea must wait another day.

Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.
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92P
It's getting "that" look.

Loop
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Quoting Civicane49:


#1223 been bright, sunny, hot in Centex today, tonight's and tomorrow's fcst Clear, warm, as I watch that converged cell coming straight for us!
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1226. Levi32
Quoting TomTaylor:
I wonder which is more accurate.

What about Atlantic activity itself? Healthier convective/wave activity over Africa due to a strong monsoon over India is one thing but I'm yet to be convinced this also correlates with greater activity in the Atlantic basin itself. Usually greater activity in one basin means less in the others.


African waves are the single greatest source of incipient disturbances that become tropical cyclones in the Atlantic. More robust waves always increases the chance of more TCs forming in the Atlantic relative to the environmental conditions in the Atlantic basin, which may be favorable or unfavorable.

If you mean the monsoon's affect on the environmental conditions in the Atlantic, then that could use further research, though I have noticed a tendency for the Indian and Atlantic basins to be coupled as the opposite convective signal to the Pacific, though that usually only happens when the ENSO is in a high amplitude state (Nino or Nina). If it's not, then perhaps things get more complicated than that.
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1225. Levi32
Quoting AussieStorm:
Btw,,, off topic from the main blog.
Anyone in Seattle here and/or a Seahawks Fan?

Please make welcome my good friend Jesse Williams.


Go 'Hawks!
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Quoting Levi32:
Interesting. The Caribbean has supposedly changed a lot in just one week.

April 20th:



April 27th:



CFSR reanalysis has much lower values than AOML:

I wonder which is more accurate.

Quoting Levi32:
The Indian monsoon circulation will begin to stir soon. The CFS says it will be stronger than normal in mid-late May. There is research that suggests that the health of the Indian monsoon and African easterly waves are related.

What about Atlantic activity itself? Healthier convective/wave activity over Africa due to a strong monsoon over India is one thing but I'm yet to be convinced this also correlates with greater activity in the Atlantic basin itself. Usually greater activity in one basin means less in the others.
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1222. bappit
It is all fun and games. Right.
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18 days left until the start of the East Pacific hurricane season.



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Quoting bappit:
The seriousness of this situation undercuts whatever defense one might make for people making frivolous posts on this blog to ridicule the science that explains what is happening.

True,,,, This IS happening now, This IS due to Global Warming. I am ashamed my govt isn't doing enough to help these people. Yet we have had about 700 boats land on Christmas Island full of illegal refugees fleeing there countries and our govt isn't doing enough to stop them. The people suffereing from the direct effects of Global Warming are in my opinion more important than people spending $$$$$$ to come here illegally. If they have $$$$$$ why jump on a rickety old fishing boat?
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Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
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1217. bappit
The seriousness of this situation undercuts whatever defense one might give for people making frivolous posts to ridicule the science that explains what is happening.
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Quoting JohnLonergan:


I don't know if tis is the same one that Bappit posted , but here is a link to a story in the Guardian:

Australia urged to formally recognise climate change refugee status
Hope it helps.

That looks like the one. I have forwarded it to the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister.

I also found this scary video on Youtube showing the fight Kirabati is losing against sea level rise.



From:
Kiribati: A Nation Going Under
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Quoting bappit:

Indeed the same. I got the article from JLonergan's post.


Gotta + you for that.
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 3452
1214. bappit
Quoting JohnLonergan:


I don't know if tis is the same one that Bappit posted , but here is a link to a story in the Guardian:

Australia urged to formally recognise climate change refugee status
Hope it helps.

Indeed the same. I got the article from JLonergan's post.

The important point is that this is not happening just to people living on atolls in the Pacific. It is happening globally though living on an atoll would certainly make someone more keenly aware of their circumstances.
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Quoting AussieStorm:


Can you post a link to that article, I will forward it onto the Federal foreign affairs minister and see if I get a response.


I don't know if tis is the same one that Bappit posted , but here is a link to a story in the Guardian:

Australia urged to formally recognise climate change refugee status
Hope it helps.
Member Since: June 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 3452
Quoting Levi32:


You're right I'm freezing, but Florida looks seasonable?

P.S. Can you spot the snow pack in North Dakota?



The weather here in Central FL has been pretty pleasant the past few days, the days have not been hot and are downright comfortable in the shade with a nice breeze (and I do NOT like hot weather at all). I am hoping for a wet summer again this year as all the wildlife thrives and it keeps the temperatures down.

To Naga 5000, I agree about lightning, it is the only type of (not extremely rare) weather around here that scares me. I will stand outside in tropical storm force winds (or higher) and get soaked but frequent cloud to ground lightning sends me indoors real quickly.
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Btw,,, off topic from the main blog.
Anyone in Seattle here and/or a Seahawks Fan?

Please make welcome my good friend Jesse Williams.
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The approaching cold front from the northwest of Hawaii is forecast to stall around Kauai by tomorrow, bringing an increase in showers to that island. Afterwards, the front will fall apart and normal trade wind weather will return by Wednesday.

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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


he is right..!

Mag. 2.8


3 km (2 miles) SE (125*) from Marina del Rey, CA
5 km (3 miles) NNW (342*) from El Segundo, CA
5 km (3 miles) SSW (201*) from Culver City, CA
7 km (4 miles) W (274*) from Inglewood, CA
19 km (12 miles) WSW (237*) from Los Angeles Civic Center, CA


Depth was 12km/7.5miles which is surprising it was felt being a fairly small quake. This is how I found out about the quake.

Candace Bailey @CandaceBailey5 13m
Did anyone else in LA just feel that earthquake?
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Quoting AussieStorm:
Quake felt in L.A not long ago.



Link


he is right..!

Mag. 2.8


3 km (2 miles) SE (125) from Marina del Rey, CA
5 km (3 miles) NNW (342) from El Segundo, CA
5 km (3 miles) SSW (201) from Culver City, CA
7 km (4 miles) W (274) from Inglewood, CA
19 km (12 miles) WSW (237) from Los Angeles Civic Center, CA
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting Neapolitan:
That's the geographical tropics. But the Köppen climate classification defines the tropics as a a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures above 18C (64F). By that standard, parts of South Florida--Collier, Monroe, Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties--are indeed tropical.

heat


So I am still geographically correct... Thanks
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Quake felt in L.A not long ago.



Link
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Quoting AussieStorm:


Actually, the tropics is defined as being between the equator and the north to the Tropic of Cancer(23°N) and to the south the Tropic of Capricorn(23°S). Anywhere till 35°N and to 35°S is classified as Sub-Tropical.

The furthest south on CONUS is Florida Keys is at 24°32'38.38N. of the area marked in red.

That's the geographical tropics. But the Köppen climate classification defines the tropics as a a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures above 18C (64F). By that standard, parts of South Florida--Collier, Monroe, Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties--are indeed tropical.

heat
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Quoting Civicane49:
Cold front approaching to the Hawaiian Islands:



Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Cold front approaching to the Hawaiian Islands:

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Quoting Grothar:


They lie. Even though Tallahassee is a beautiful city, you will have to travel to South Florida to experience the real tropics.


It isn't the tropics here, there is a noticeable difference even between here and Central Florida, even more south the south Florida coast.

It is semi-tropical though, it still definitely feels like Florida, but with a different twist.
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Quoting bappit:
"Kiribati: Toani Benson stands on the ruins of the store that sold him petrol for his school's generator in the mid-1990s."



"Phil Glendenning, who was in Kiribati in March, says Australia needs to formally recognise climate change refugees because there's "a big chance" that climate change in the Pacific would force large numbers of people from their homelands.

"Glendenning says Australia should prepare to cater for thousands of climate change refugees over and above the 20,000 refugees it admits from war-torn nations every year.

""These are people who are not suffering from persecution because of their beliefs, race or because they belong to a particular group. So they don't meet the Refugee Convention criteria but, nevertheless, there will be a need for people to be resettled because they have been displaced by climate change," says Glendenning. "This is a new cohort of people who are emerging, the rest of the world needs to pay attention.""


Can you post a link to that article, I will forward it onto the Federal foreign affairs minister and see if I get a response.
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Quoting Grothar:


They lie. Even though Tallahassee is a beautiful city, you will have to travel to South Florida to experience the real tropics.


Actually, the tropics is defined as being between the equator and the north to the Tropic of Cancer(23°N) and to the south the Tropic of Capricorn(23°S). Anywhere till 35°N and to 35°S is classified as Sub-Tropical.

The furthest south on CONUS is Florida Keys is at 24°32'38.38N. of the area marked in red.

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1199. bappit
"Kiribati: Toani Benson stands on the ruins of the store that sold him petrol for his school's generator in the mid-1990s."



"Phil Glendenning, who was in Kiribati in March, says Australia needs to formally recognise climate change refugees because there's "a big chance" that climate change in the Pacific would force large numbers of people from their homelands.

"Glendenning says Australia should prepare to cater for thousands of climate change refugees over and above the 20,000 refugees it admits from war-torn nations every year.

""These are people who are not suffering from persecution because of their beliefs, race or because they belong to a particular group. So they don't meet the Refugee Convention criteria but, nevertheless, there will be a need for people to be resettled because they have been displaced by climate change," says Glendenning. "This is a new cohort of people who are emerging, the rest of the world needs to pay attention.""
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Quoting stormchaser19:


I bet you that the carribean is going to be more inastable than the last year,therefore more favorable for storms intensification



well in April it caught up to the black line from being really low on March...
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Link Mitigating the impacts of drought in the Caribbean

okay, night all.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Scary if a well-developed tropical cyclone tracks over it while within a favorable atmospheric environment. Otherwise, this year will end up like the past three; a close call, but no rapid intensification into an intense hurricane over the northwestern Caribbean.

Rina is an exception.


I bet you that the caribbean is going to be more unstable than the last year,therefore more favorable for storms intensification

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Aussie

is the forecast path of the storm "nice" as well?
I have not checked yet...
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Caribbean TCHP loop:

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1193. Levi32
Interesting. The Caribbean has supposedly changed a lot in just one week.

April 20th:



April 27th:



CFSR reanalysis has much lower values than AOML:

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1192. Grothar
Quoting Levi32:


Tallahassee.

I guess I thought Floridians would be accustomed to seasonable April temperatures. 76F in Miami doesn't seem that hot even to me.


They lie. Even though Tallahassee is a beautiful city, you will have to travel to South Florida to experience the real tropics.
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Good Afternoon 92P, your coming together nicely.


Loop


Loop



Loop


Loop


Loop


Loop
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Scary if a well-developed tropical cyclone tracks over it while within a favorable atmospheric environment. Otherwise, this year will end up like the past three; a close call, but no rapid intensification into an intense hurricane over the northwestern Caribbean.

Rina is an exception.


Wilma type forming in the Western Caribbean.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14553
This tine of year it's improbable that anything tropical will form near Florida's coast. Give it a few more weeks and then conditions will improve for that sort of thing...imo
We felt finally today that spring is over and the warm weather will begin to settle in.
But as we all know, the water will warm after the air.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


That is scary for sure.

Scary if a well-developed tropical cyclone tracks over it while within a favorable atmospheric environment. Otherwise, this year will end up like the past three; a close call, but no rapid intensification into an intense hurricane over the northwestern Caribbean.

Rina is an exception.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32517
Quoting Civicane49:
This year's Caribbean TCHP in late April is higher than compared to 2012 and 2011. What I found interesting this year is that the area of very high TCHP is focusing in the western Caribbean, while the previous two years featured the high TCHP values concentrated in the central Caribbean. We could see at least one, maybe two major hurricanes, over the Caribbean later this year.



That is scary for sure.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14553
Quoting NRAamy:
Taz, you should be made a mod.

oh gosh no, there would be know one left if that happened.

Btw, Hi NRAamy, long time no see.
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Quoting NRAamy:
I'm just not used to them....this is my second Summer in SE Florida.....


I thought you lived in Ca?
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Quoting NRAamy:
I'm just not used to them....this is my second Summer in SE Florida.....


I grew up in South Florida and live in Orlando now. The only thing that scares me anymore is the lighting. Some of the summer sea breeze storms are terrifying.
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1182. Levi32
Quoting Grothar:


It's hot!!!! And I think I only live ab out 20 minutes North of Dakster. It is hot, hot, hot. BTW, if you go to FSU, what city would you be in?


Tallahassee.

I guess I thought Floridians would be accustomed to seasonable April temperatures. 76F in Miami doesn't seem that hot even to me.
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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.

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