5th warmest winter on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:17 PM GMT on March 10, 2006

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The winter of 2005-2006 (December, January and February) was the 5th warmest on record in the U.S., according to the National Climatic Data Center. February temperatures were near average for the U.S., with no states much warmer or much cooler than their long-term means. February 2006 was the 45th warmest on record since 1895. However, the record warm January over most of the U.S. helped push the temperatures for the winter as a whole sharply upwards. The global numbers are not tabulated yet, but it is likely that the winter will rank in the top 15 warmest winters globally, since December was the 9th warmest December on record, and January was the 13th warmest. The very cold temperatures seen in Asia during January 2006, plus the emergence of La Ni�a, will keep the global winter from setting any records for warmth.


Figure 1. Global temperatures in January 2006 were the 13th warmest on record, and the warmest on record in the U.S. Note the cool blue dots along the Equator off the Pacific coast of Central America, indicating the presence of La Ni�a cooling of the ocean surface. It is unprecedented in the historical record for a La Ni�a of this intensity to develop so early in the year.

Precipitation for the winter of 2005-2006
Precipitation was much below average in February for much of the U.S., making this February 2006 the 9th driest on record. December-February precipitation was near normal for the U.S. as a whole, but portions of the south-central U.S. and southwest U.S. suffered acute drought conditions. However, the Southwest is poised to receive its biggest storm of the season Saturday, when a half-inch of rain is expected in Phoenix, bringing its amazing string of 143 straight days without rain to an end. Up to foot of snow is expected in the mountains near Phoenix. Not much precipitation is likely for the upcoming months, though, as the persistent La Ni�a pattern should act to keep the jet stream and major storm systems well north of the Southwest.



Figure 2. Precipitation for the winter of 2005-2006 averaged near normal for the country, with the very dry conditions in the south-central and southwest U.S. being balanced by heavy precipitation in the northwestern U.S.

Tropical outlook for March
The oceans in the Northern Hemisphere are near their yearly minima in temperature this week. In the Atlantic, only the Caribbean is above the minimum 26 C threshold for hurricane formation. Wind shear remains high over the entire Atlantic, and is forecast to remain high for at least the next ten days. I'm not anticipating any off-season tropical development in the Atlantic this March. As the sun crosses the Equator on Spring Equinox (March 20), the oceans will slowly begin to heat up again.

Hottest temperature ever recorded
OK, so this isn't meteorology, but yesterday scientists at Sandia National Laboratories announced they had produced a superheated gas with the hottest temperature ever recorded--3.6 billion degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 billion degrees Centigrade. The Sun checks in at a mere 15 million degrees Centigrade.

Jeff Masters

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54. ForecasterColby
11:22 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Heck, it's not even poisonous. Hydrogen will end up reacting to form water quite quickly, and Helium is totally inert and will drift out of the atmosphere.
53. ForecasterColby
11:04 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Here's how fusion works:

H1 + H1 (Joe average Hydrogen) -> H2 (Deuterium)
H2 + H1 -> He3 (Helium-3, rare but not radioactive)
He3 + He3 -> He4 + 2 H-1 + TONS of energy

Even if everything in the reaction were as radioactive as Plutonium, we'd still not really need to worry. Amounts used are absolutely miniscule, on the order of a few pounds, to provide more energy than a nuclear plant. This is big stuff.
52. Califonia
11:00 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Fission vs. Fusion

In a conventional nuclear reactor (fission), you have radioactive materials generating heat.

If the heat gets too great, everything starts to melt, the nuclear materials all run together, and you can no longer slow down the process.

It can just melt right into the ground and keep going. Radioactive materials are released into the environment.


With fusion you are working with non-radioactive atoms and/or molecules. They also generate heat, but unlike fission, if anything goes wrong, the process stops immediately.

Even if stuff "gets out", it's not radioactive, so there is no concern about health or the environment.
50. ForecasterColby
10:33 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
The GFS had shown that to cutoff and develop in the BOC a few days ago, but I don't think it's anything. It's barely even a trough ATM.

Sayhuh - Fusion doesn't use radioactive materials at any stage.
47. sayhuh
9:31 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Seems the radiation output could be concerning if not contained correctly?
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46. ForecasterColby
10:04 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
If you were following my fantasy storms, get back in there. I updated them 2 days ago, and no one has updated their forecasts.
45. ForecasterColby
10:00 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Got lows?

44. ForecasterColby
9:57 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
L

O

L

Cyclone, you're just an endless source of amusement - on par with Category 7: The end of the world. Your basic lack of physics, especially that of Conservation of Energy is really lacking here. Where do you think they get the energy from? The heat produced by the reaction.
42. ForecasterColby
9:47 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Yeah, Fusion is pretty much completely safe. Insane though the energy involved is, as soon as the reaction got out of control, it would shut itself down.
41. Fshhead
8:55 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
A little off topic here but, did u guys hear about NASA probe finding "possible" water on one of Saturns moons???

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/main/index.html
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40. Geoman
8:30 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Sidenote on Fahrenheit vs Celsius--the Fahrenheit scale was actually the predecestor of the absolute scale (be it Kelvin or Rankine) since zero degrees F was defined as the lowest possible temperature achievable in a lab--in the 1720s, this was a mixture of ice and salt. Though the 100 degree point was supposed to be human body temperature (he must have had a slight fever), the scale was eventually recalibrated (like Celsius) around the freezing point of pure water (32 F) and the boiling point of water at standard sea level pressure (212 F). Though it is true that most of the world uses Celsius, it (and its related Kelvin scale) are actually less accurate than Fahrenheit--1 degree Celsius is equal to 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Why not go Rankine, which has the ease of Kelvin (no negative temperatures, since both O K and O R are at absolute zero) and the smaller Fahrenheit degree, elimnating those pesky decimals which have caused may errors in the past. :)
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39. Fshhead
8:52 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
I had heard a couple of years ago about something like this. They said they were going to reproduce the energy of the sun.....
Not sure if this was what they were talking about. LOL, I would have loved to see the looks on the scientists face while this happened.
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38. Fshhead
8:50 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Cali.... like I said very good find. I hope this is the answer that was right under our noses that I referred to before!!!!!!!!
This "could" be the biggest discovery to mankind!!!!!!
Man.... sure hope so
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37. Califonia
8:45 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Posted By: Fshhead at 8:39 PM GMT on March 10, 2006.

I am just wondering about the hazards of it!!!!!!
If that plasma got out of hand or got through the magnetic field...... It could not be good.


No need to worry - it could not sustain any reaction if it escaped containment.

This is not at all like nuclear fission.
36. Fshhead
8:37 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
I am just wondering about the hazards of it!!!!!!
If that plasma got out of hand or got through the magnetic field...... It could not be good.
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35. Fshhead
8:27 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Wooohooooo... Cali I hope they are on to something here!!!!
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34. ForecasterColby
8:26 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
California, I did a little more looking on the subject. Google News for "Sandia National Laboratories"
33. Califonia
7:34 PM GMT on March 10, 2006

...Open Your Eyes, Gals and Guys...

The "Sandia National Laboratories" experiment posted by Cyclonebuster above is potentially the biggest story of the century.

If it turns out that the energy created is significantly greater than the energy input, and that energy can be harnessed to produce electricity, it could:

1. Solve the world's energy problems
2. Remove dependency on the middle east oil supplies
3. Stop the CO2 emissions for those concerned with global warming.

We won't know until they have done more research, but I will be following the story with EXTREME INTEREST.
32. ForecasterColby
8:09 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Bd, C just makes more sense. Learn to use it, it's the scale of the rest of the world and will probably catch on here eventually. Farenheit is arbitrary, at least Celcius has defined boundaries (0C = water freezes, 100C = water boils). Kelvin makes the most sense, but adding 273 to everything is a bit annoying.
31. bdkennedy1
8:02 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Ummmm, can we use Fahrenheit please? This is the United States, not Europe.
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29. ForecasterColby
7:48 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
By sun being 30% dimmer, I meant on earth.
28. Skyepony (Mod)
7:36 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Yeah, the sun is 30% dimmer

The sun isn't dimmer, the excess clouds from particles & what not prevent it's sunshine frome reaching the ground as well as prevent radiational cooling.

The Sky, those 3 days after 9/11 was pretty well documented, that yeilded all sorts of alarming info as to the contrail's affect.
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27. Skyepony (Mod)
7:11 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Thanks for elaberating on the hot winter, I had wondered where the earth average would end up on the record after the winter season.

The global dimming~ had run across some of this on the why we make contrails searce. One claiming it was to dim the sunlight to curb global warming with some respected scientists saying it would only excellerate it. Glad more answers are being found in the global warming area.

This was interesting~ NASA finds stronger storms change heat & rainfail world wide~ some highlights of the article~

Studies have shown that over the last 40 years, a warming climate has been accompanied by fewer rain- and snow-producing storms in mid-latitudes around the world, but the storms that are happening are a little stronger with more precipitation. A new analysis of global satellite data suggests that these storm changes are affecting strongly the Earth's water cycle and air temperatures and creating contrasting cooling and warming effects in the atmosphere.

Fewer and stronger storms in the mid-latitudes affect the radiation field, that is, the solar energy being absorbed and the heat radiation emitted by the Earth. There are two things happening with storms and energy. The first is that sunlight is reflected back into space from the tops of the clouds, creating a cooling effect at the Earth's surface. Conversely, clouds also act to trap heat radiation and prevent it from escaping into space, creating a warming on the Earth's atmosphere.

A 1998 study of precipitation data for the continental U.S., showed an increase in more extreme rainfall and snowfall events over the previous 70 to 90 years. Further, climate model studies that Tselioudis and others performed in the last few years indicate that additional levels of carbon dioxide will lead to fewer but more potent storms as has been the case in the last 50 years.

In the present study, when a storm change prediction by a leading climate model was examined, the radiation effects of stronger storms were found to be greater than those produced by the related decrease in the number of storms. Fewer storms mean less cloud cover to reflect sunlight and that adds heat to the Earth. However, more intense storms tend to produce thicker clouds which cool the atmosphere. Tselioudis and Rossow looked at both of those factors, and calculated that the cooling effect is larger than the warming in all months except June, July and August, when the two effects cancel each other.


I found this interesting since it named out CO2 causing these more intense storms (with NASA as the source) as well as the larger storms have a greater cooling affect most of the year.
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26. desertdisaster
7:30 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
The diiming is there even if it is hard to notice !

In the days immediately after 9/11 the entire United States commercial airfleet was grounded for three days & the sky had never been so blue since decades...

Dr Travis believed that aircraft vapour trails were themselves a significant contributor to solar dimming, and he found that their three day absence alone resulted in a massive jump in the daily temperature range the difference between the highest daytime temperature and the lowest night time temperature.

This important climatic variable increased by more than one degree Celsius over the three days of the grounding.
The unforeseen climatic effects of 9/11 suggest that if we remove other causes of dimming, the impact on global temperatures could be huge.

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25. ForecasterColby
7:18 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
*rolls eyes massively*

Yeah, the sun is 30% dimmer. Right. I'd think that maybe, just maybe, those who have been alive for that whole period would have noticed a third of the sunlight gone.
24. desertdisaster
7:04 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Arisona is one place of many that will suffer...

Scientists have been studying solar measurements for decades
We are all seeing rather less of the Sun, according to scientists who have been looking at five decades of sunlight measurements.
They have reached the disturbing conclusion that the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth's surface has been gradually falling.

Paradoxically, the decline in sunlight may mean that global warming is a far greater threat to society than previously thought.


The effect was first spotted by Gerry Stanhill, an English scientist working in Israel.

Cloud changes

Comparing Israeli sunlight records from the 1950s with current ones, Dr Stanhill was astonished to find a large fall in solar radiation.

"There was a staggering 22% drop in the sunlight, and that really amazed me." Intrigued, he searched records from all around the world, and found the same story almost everywhere he looked.

Sunlight was falling by 10% over the USA, nearly 30% in parts of the former Soviet Union, and even by 16% in parts of the British Isles.

Although the effect varied greatly from place to place, overall the decline amounted to one to two per cent globally every decade between the 1950s and the 1990s.

Dr Stanhill called it "global dimming", but his research, published in 2001, met a sceptical response from other scientists.

It was only recently, when his conclusions were confirmed by Australian scientists using a completely different method to estimate solar radiation, that climate scientists at last woke up to the reality of global dimming.

My main concern is global dimming is also having a detrimental impact on the Asian monsoon ... We are talking about billions of people

Burning coal, oil and wood, whether in cars, power stations or cooking fires, produces not only invisible carbon dioxide - the principal greenhouse gas responsible for global warming - but also tiny airborne particles of soot, ash, sulphur compounds and other pollutants.

This visible air pollution reflects sunlight back into space, preventing it reaching the surface. But the pollution also changes the optical properties of clouds.

Because the particles seed the formation of water droplets, polluted clouds contain a larger number of droplets than unpolluted clouds.

Recent research shows that this makes them more reflective than they would otherwise be, again reflecting the Sun's rays back into space.

Scientists are now worried that dimming, by shielding the oceans from the full power of the Sun, may be disrupting the pattern of the world's rainfall.

There are suggestions that dimming was behind the droughts in sub-Saharan Africa which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the 1970s and 80s.

There are disturbing hints the same thing may be happening today in Asia, home to half the world's population.

"My main concern is global dimming is also having a detrimental impact on the Asian monsoon," says Professor Veerhabhadran Ramanathan, professor of climate and atmospheric sciences at the University of California, San Diego. "We are talking about billions of people."

Alarming energy

But perhaps the most alarming aspect of global dimming is that it may have led scientists to underestimate the true power of the greenhouse effect.

They know how much extra energy is being trapped in the Earth's atmosphere by the extra carbon dioxide we have placed there.

What has been surprising is that this extra energy has so far resulted in a temperature rise of just 0.6 degree Celsius.

This has led many scientists to conclude that the present-day climate is less sensitive to the effects of carbon dioxide than it was, say, during the ice age, when a similar rise in CO2 led to a temperature rise of six degrees Celsius.

But it now appears the warming from greenhouse gases has been offset by a strong cooling effect from dimming - in effect two of our pollutants have been cancelling each other out.

This means that the climate may in fact be more sensitive to the greenhouse effect than previously thought.

If so, then this is bad news, according to Dr Peter Cox, one of the world's leading climate modellers.

As things stand, CO2 levels are projected to rise strongly over coming decades, whereas there are encouraging signs that particle pollution is at last being brought under control.

"We're going to be in a situation unless we act where the cooling pollutant is dropping off while the warming pollutant is going up.

"That means we'll get reducing cooling and increased heating at the same time and that's a problem for us," says Dr Cox.

Even the most pessimistic forecasts of global warming may now have to be drastically revised upwards.

That means a temperature rise of 10 degrees Celsius by 2100 could be on the cards, giving the UK a climate like that of North Africa, and rendering many parts of the world uninhabitable.

That is unless we act urgently to curb our emissions of greenhouse gases.
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23. globalize
6:55 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Without questioning the benefits of science in the least, don't certain questions appear in the mind about such experiments?
Earth is sixteen quadrilion years old..ride a light beam to the next galaxy and everybody's old when you return...the earth's oil reserves are a bunch of dead dinosaurs.
Somebody heated a gas to over a hundred times the temp of the Sun, and the room stayed at 72 I guess..
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22. ForecasterColby
5:34 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
It's clean, it's easily contained, and it's harnessable. The problem is, to create the extreme conditions for fusion requires an absurd amount of energy to produce here on Earth. In the sun, gravity does the work. If they got more out than in, that's one of the biggest steps in mankind's history.
20. HurricaneMyles
5:17 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Ok, must be the different era's that we were educated in then. I've never been told fusion isn't possible. Hell, it's the cleanest, most efficient form of energy we can find. If we could control fusion to such an extent that we could harnesss it for energy, all our power problems would be solved. Along with no more greenhouse gases, pollution, or highly radio-active material caused by todays power generators.
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17. Tabby
12:15 PM EST on March 10, 2006
All that negative plasma, just like in "ghostbusters". I should have guessed - didn't they use magnetic chambers to contain the ghosties? Isn't the universe amazing!!
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15. Tabby
12:14 PM EST on March 10, 2006
Wow!
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14. HurricaneMyles
5:11 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Tabby,

It's not in stored in a container. It's bound my very strong magnetic waves. Since very hot material turns into plasma, which is very negative I believe, you can use strong magnets to keep it where you want it. Since plasma will melt anything it comes in contact with, you cant use any material we know of to keep it bound.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
12. HurricaneMyles
5:08 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
If they knew in theory fusion can be achieved, as it is always happening in the sun, how is it a myth?

Cold fusion would be better classified as a myth, as it has almost no scientific backing, yet for a while people were all over the bandwagon thinking it would power the future.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
11. Tabby
12:00 PM EST on March 10, 2006
What kind of container do they put a 2 billion degree superheated gas in?
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10. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
9:06 AM PST on March 10, 2006
i going to see big time t-storms today come see my blog for more i hop they do a sever t-storm watch for ca today
8. HurricaneMyles
4:55 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Correction -

"However, they are not sure they caused fusion;"
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
7. HurricaneMyles
4:50 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
From an Article I found on the 2 billion temp created.

"the Z machine was releasing more energy than was originally put in, something that usually occurs only in nuclear reactions."

So buster, its not a myth to create more energy then you put in, it happens in the Sun 24/7. It's fusion my friend. However, they are sure they caused fusion; I wouldnt be surprised if they did.

Also, some may ask if they were doing the same fusion as the sun, why was it so much hotter. The reason is that the sun fuses hydrogen, the smallest atom known. The scientist there werent using hydrogen, they were using metal wires with much heavier atoms in them. When heavy atoms fuse they release many time more energy then light atoms like hydrogen.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
6. globalize
4:47 PM GMT on March 10, 2006
Temperaturewise didn't northern Europe pretty much have a normal Winter, with perhaps more precipitation than usual? Western Europe's Winter was actually quite mild.
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About JeffMasters

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